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4-4-2 or No?

A busy transfer window for Reading saw huge change at the usually consistent club. Stalwarts Pearce, Federici, and Karacan all left, with almost a dozen new faces coming in. Hector's surprise move to Chelsea on deadline day sealed what had been a frantic few months.

So the next question, ahead of tonight's game against Ipswich, is, 'what's the best way to line up our new squad'?

The obvious answer to that would be the good, old-fashioned 4-4-2. Sá has shown himself to hold up the ball excellently, and can bring new(er) boy Vydra into the attack. We've already seen the former's heading of the ball to be a threat, while the latter is ferocious in the box with his feet. Combined with the creativity of McCleary and Hurtado down both wings, there's sure to be goals.

Williams can continue his role as the aggressor, picked over Quinn for his dribbling from deep, and shooting from distance. They're similar players, but Williams' ability to pick the team up with a driving run is a crucial part of Reading's game plan. Norwood, so far, has managed to find form, and his defensive contribution is off the charts compared to that of his midfield team mates. Obviously his impressive passing can only be a bonus while playing in the deeper role, and will hopefully be able to set up attacks; irrelevant of the situation.

The back four effectively picks itself, with some question marks over whether Ferdinand or Hector should partner McShane at the back. Personally, Ferdinand's experience and calm head wins out over the occasionally rash Hector. We've been solid at the back so far this season, and Hector's mix up with Al-Habsi at Portsmouth only adds to the questions over whether his selection would be the correct one. He also seems to lose his head slightly after making a mistake, and often attempts to force the game where he has no right doing so. I would not be surprised, however, if the loan agreement requires him to play, and in that case Ferdinand will find himself back on the bench, harshly. Bond, although not convincing, is still first choice in my mind, especially with such a good defence protecting him.

Obviously the line-up leaves out Blackman, who has been involved in 3 of our 5 goals so far this season, but overall it's a risk worth taking. Vydra only played the full game eleven times last season, so no doubt Nick would still get a look in.

It wouldn't be hard to play the more modern 4-2-3-1 with the same line-up, with Vydra dropping back in to a AMC role, or possibly Álex Fernández coming in to the starting XI.

Reading - Football tactics and formations

I also think there's a possibility of playing a 3-5-2, although whether the comparisons to Swindon would be worth it is another issue entirely. While McShane and Ferdinand have been solid at the back, and I have no doubt that Hector would be solid with such cover beside him, it does leave us more open at the back. Obita and Gunter have played well, and provide a much needed injection of pace. McCleary and Hurtado would also need to track back more in order to cover the wings, and that's a big ask for two players who haven't been fully fit although the energy of both Quinn and Williams would be a bonus. It's definitely a 'we'll score more than you' formation, and that's exciting but not necessarily intelligent.

Reading - Football tactics and formations

On the tenth anniversary of our ascension to the top division, and a smashing of the points record, with the same formation, surely 4-4-2 is the way to go?


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