Skip to main content

Millwall 2-1 Reading. Stam.

29 May 2017, 17:49 - Liam Kelly hammers a penalty into the roof of the net in front of the Huddersfield end of Wembley to put Reading 3-1 up, and on the verge of the Premier League. Stam's side had been brushed off as promotion contenders for most of the year, but after a third place finish - made all the more remarkable by three successive managerial failures, and finishes of 17th and 19th in the two previous seasons - it seemed they would, like John Cena, overcome the odds once more to reach the promised land.

Of course, it wasn't to work out like that, but Stam instilled a new feeling of genuine hope that hadn't been at the Madejski since, arguably, McDermott guided the team to the Championship title half a decade prior. Just four months down the line and there are some calling for his head.
Of the team that started the final Williams and Al Habsi have left, Swift and Kermorgant injured, and Grabban's loan expired. Then Obita, an integral part of the squad last year, is set for another period on the sidelines.

I understand that, especially with Kermorgant and Mendes out - and even more so as Barrow's unavailable too, we should have brought in 'the' striker. Bodvarsson doesn't fit that for many people. Seen in many ways as another Mendes, who didn't show his ability until late on last year, he's not someone who scores goals. The Icelander's finish against Hull was certainly reminiscent of his team mate's strike away at Villa at the very least.

But this is a new look side, who aren't being given time to bed in. The same criticisms from last year - boring football, not getting the ball forward immediately - are combined with the frustration to not play a recognised central striker. Irrelevant of the fact that our best performance so far came against an, admittedly mediocre, Aston Villa team where Clement lead the line. Our main period of historical success came from getting the ball forward quickly down the wings, but this team aren't necessarily built for that. Beerens in particular isn't quick enough to break with pace but often finds himself furthest forward.

I dispute that the lack of a striker should even count against Stam. We know how this club works - Brian Tevreden controls the purse strings while Stam works along side him. And that system has worked well up to this point, with some gems brought in (Moore, Swift). Tevreden is saying that there was nobody available at a reasonable price, and knowing the current state of the transfer market, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

There are reasons to be critical. Last night I thought the team selection was okay at the start of the game - JVDB brought impetus on Saturday and made sense to come in, and McCleary struggled up front but was moved out wider where he, hypothetically, should be more comfortable. It was obvious though that McCleary just isn't clicking at the moment, and we don't have that link between phases that Danny Williams so often brought last year. When the defence have the ball the midfield are too static, often hiding behind their men, and the same with the attack when we get the ball further forward. The notable exception was Clement when he came on. The decision to keep Popa on the bench also seems harsh, especially late on when Beerens so often seems like he needs a rest and Popa's game is almost perfectly built to harass tired defences. We could be slightly more direct, but being mindlessly direct is no more helpful.

Stam, to be fair, is trying to adapt to teams sitting deeper, you can see that by tactical tweaks during the games, but he just hasn't worked it out yet. I am confident he will. People need to be patient, both during matches - passing the ball around, looking for an opening shouldn't bring boos from the stands - and toward the manager himself.

I'd love to know who the Stam out brigade would like to replace him. I suppose 'Arry is available. And they are wilfully ignoring the fact that this is a side with Stam clearly at the heart of it. Normally tearing out the heart is not the best way to resuscitate a team.

When the team click I think they've shown potential to be even better than last year, I for one would really like to get to see that.


Popular posts from this blog

Scout Report: Brentford

It almost feels superfluous to write about a Brentford team who have already been covered so extensively. Famed for their player recruitment the core of their side is a young, attack-minded group of players who seemingly love to play together. They tend to play 4-3-3, with Watkins as the main striker, and Benrahma and Mbeumo attempting to find space to either side of him. The midfield three is given stability by Christian Norgaard in the holding role, while Dasilva and Jensen are free to push on. Even goalkeeper David Raya Martin is crucial to the team's attacking intent. His quick distribution reminiscent of Marcus Hahnemann bowling out to Bobby Convey to set the winger away. That said defensively the Spaniard can occasionally be caught out, infamously allowing Ryan Tafazolli to pass the ball from the halfway line into the Brentford net. That's not the only mistake he's made this year - a missed punch condemned Brentford to a loss at Kenilworth Road, and similarly lead to

Reading FC Season Review | 2020/2021

When your season starts with your manager having to watch your opening match from the hotel because he's not been hired in time to beat the quarantine, anything above getting relegated should probably be classed as a success. And Reading exceeded surely even the most optimistic of pre-season predictions. Veljko Paunovic Veljko Paunovic almost exclusively utilised a core group of players in a 4-2-3-1, only changing things when enforced. One of the consequences of that is that Reading had more players play over 3,000 minutes than any other side (roughly three-quarters of the season). That consistency is often seen as a good thing, but in a condensed season, it surely contributed to the injury woes. It can't have helped that the manager also used the second-fewest number of players over the course of the season. His substitutions were often categorised as late (Reading's subs played just 16 minutes on average, only Norwich's played fewer) or non-existent (Reading were 19t

Starting the Year Renew

Ah, 2023. A new year. A time to take stock of what you have, and look forward to the twelve months ahead. The first thing on Paul Ince's plate is to renew Andy Carroll and Amadou Mbengue's contracts - something he's been very vocal about wanting to do. Mbengue is a difficult one. Yes, he is undoubtedly an exciting prospect but this is a club with six other senior centre backs. He'd be useful cover elsewhere, namely at right back, but Kelvin Abrefa has also showed some promise in that position in his, albeit small, cameos so far. Ince has already said his preferred back three is Yiadom, Holmes, and Sarr. Mbengue could be first-choice backup on the right side of that three, but given Yiadom is captain and played more minutes than anyone outside of Ince and Hendrick, realistically he won't get much of a look in. Likewise TMc is probably ahead of him for Sarr's spot. Shifting Moore and Dann in the summer still leaves him in the same position - and that's before