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Reading 2-2 Stoke City

Stoke should have won.

Bearing in mind that Reading do not often come back from losing positions salvaging a point against a team recently relegated, regardless of their initial run of form, can only be seen as positive. Especially when their midfield is so strong, and ours so susceptible to being overrun.

It's with the midfield that it's probably best to start. Bacuna given the captain's armband looked assured, and Rinomhota is going from strength to strength. It was the latter's bursting run into the box and cross that set up McNulty for his first Reading goal. The cross may have taken a deflection, but he really did deserve the luck. Swift again looked out of place, he seemed to drift around in the game without doing an awful lot. He had an almost spectacular turn on the edge of the Stoke box, and a nice shot just wide but both felt like they were in the first fifteen minutes. I'm not sure he understands the role that Clement is asking him to play.

In fact the w…

Reading 1-2 Norwich City

When stepping into the Madejski on Wednesday night I was, while not optimistic, confident that we'd see an improvement for the last home game against Sheffield Wednesday. What I got, however, was a horrible re-run.



You would have thought that all the discussion before the game would have been about not giving Teemu Pukki, the striker who has contributed to five goals in eight games, any room to add to his tally. Less than fifteen minutes Moore steps up for a challenge in midfield, which he manages to win, but the ball breaks loose to Todd Cantwell who has all the time in the world to pick out the striker. Yiadom had come across to cover for Moore, but dropped too deep which played the Finn onside and allowed him to curve the ball around Walker.

Maybe Ilori should have tracked the run, or actually attempt to make a tackle when he got close enough; or potentially Gunter could have made more of an effort to get back. Maybe one of the midfield three could have sat in the hole and save…

Reading 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Doom and gloom.

Let's start at the team sheet. Blackett dropped and Bodvarsson injured, with Gunter and Meite coming in for the pair. I cannot get my head around the change at the back. Blackett has been regarded as one of the positives this season, and few believed that Gunter should be allowed to walk back into the team after the performances of our only viable natural left back and Yiadom.

Not only had Blackett been playing well, but Gunter does not fit in Clement's system. From everything we've seen so far full backs need to be able to get forward, provide impetus, and put a good ball in. I'm not one of those who have something against Gunter - I think he's a good footballer who provides more defensive stability than most in his position, hence why he's perfect for Wales - but he does not tick the boxes for Reading right now.

Another of the season's wannabe-redemption stories looked much worse on Saturday because of the change behind him. Sone Aluko is …

Blackburn 2-2 Reading

Jesus.

Look - I would have taken a battling 2-2 before the game. I would have taken any point before the game to lift off us level points with Q.P.R.. But to give away two penalties to throw the game away is unforgivable.

As always recently, it could have been worse. Blackburn squandered numerous chances in the first half to punish defensive lapses. Instead hitting the bar on one occasion, and almost cushioning the ball back to Mannone on another.

At the other end things started, for once, brightly. Three goals in three Championship starts for the Iceman, capitalising on a loose ball behind the defence to finish well for his first before he followed up on Meite's cross for goal two. Worth mentioning that Tyler Blackett - who's been quietly going about his business so far this season - put in a very good cross for the second.

In the second half Blackburn switched to match us up and, as we have often seen under Clement, Reading lacked an out ball. Baldock seems to have struggled…

Reading 0-1 Bolton

There is a chance that when the season ends, and Bolton have been promoted, that this result won't look so bad. However, given that we are only four games since they narrowly avoided relegation, and in that time their players have been on strike I'm going to count it as A Bad Loss.

With no fit wingers it was always going to be a challenge to guess the side. John Swift ended up on the left wing, with Meite being fit enough to take part on the opposite flank. Presumably the thinking was that against two big centre backs the pace and skill of Baldock and McNulty should have trumped Bodvarsson.

Clement likes his wing players to drift inside and contribute in the centre of the pitch too, which I presume was why he felt comfortable putting Swift out wide, but the problem was that he was dragged into the middle too easily. You need to pull them out wide so that you can then exploit the space in the middle - space that never materialises when all your attacks go through one area go be…

Reading 2-0 Birmingham

The Carabao Cup became a squad competition a fair while ago, so it was refreshing to see Reading field such a strong team. All the starting changes - Bacuna, Swift, Moore, and McNulty - could hardly be said to weaken the team. Conversely Gary Monk could clearly more, deciding to mix his team up and leave key players on the bench.

Birmingham were never going to have as much of the ball as the two sides we've already played this season - which meant that Reading didn't have to press as high, and we ended up controlling the ball for the opening 25 minutes. Bacuna continuously overhit his attempts to play the ball in behind, but McNulty managed to play a sumptuous ball for Meite to drive home from 18 yards past last season's Sunderland 'favourite' Lee Camp. I think the goalie should have done something to put pressure on 21, rather than staying on his six-yard line and letting him pick his spot.

When Barrow went off midway through the first half it seemed to disru…

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Reading

Starting with two ties against promotion chasing sides was never going to be the ideal way to kick off the season, but once again Reading largely held their own in a tight encounter - only to be edged out late on.

Again, The Royals probably had the better of the early exchanges in a somewhat surprising, not-seen in yonks 4-4-2 formation. Firm twitter favourite Yakou Meite finally getting a start on the right wing, while Sam 'The Saviour' Baldock played off Bodvarsson. The set-up worked much like against Derby, with a high press harrying Forest who never really settled. The only real issue was that the ball kept bouncing off our Icelandic giant.

Both wingers seemed to have the freedom to drift inside, and linked up in the middle of the pitch for Reading's best chance of the game - Barrow sliding in Meite, who was put under pressure as he shot and didn't manage to get any real power. Similar in style to Bodvarsson's miss last week, although this was in an even better…

Reading 1-2 Derby

All day I was dreaming of stopping Frank Lampard's Derby from getting off to a winning start, but alas it wasn't to be.

We started off surprisingly well - pressing Derby high and winning the ball back from their defence multiple times before racing through on goal. Had Bodvarsson managed to find Swift when he was through it would have been harder to miss; or when Barrow put in the best ball I've seen him produce Swift was, again, within a whisker of getting on the end of it.

Even Aluko had his moments; seemingly given a little bit more freedom to cut inside. With the impressive Andy Yiadom overlapping we still had the width on that side that potentially would have been lost had Gunter been in the side.

The other new addition to start, David Meyler, really showed what we'd been missing last season. Someone who, calmly, breaks play up and lays it off. As much as I loved JVDB his persistent fouling always put us on the back foot. I saw someone from Hull saying he had a k…

Reading 1-0 QPR

Paul Clement's first game in charge saw Reading's first win in 10 games. However the performance still left something to be desired.

 Sone Aluko finally seems to be showing why Reading shelled out for him. He was instrumental in the last home game against Leeds, and he can add a terrific long range strike to his haul. Leeds doubled up on Aluko, but QPR had no such worries which seems like an error. He managed to turn Bidwell easily before cutting inside and hitting The Top Corner™.

At the other end there were real problems - and it was luck more than skill that QPR didn't manage to capitalise. Mannone - who was obviously the hero at the end - looked poor for the majority. Weak punches and flapping at the ball made the decision to drop Jaakkola seem harsh. He also managed to slip up and almost present a goal to QPR - although he can hardly be blamed for the surface.

Ilori and Blackett also had heart-in-mouth moments. Ilori basically passed a cross straight to Wszolek, who pi…

Ch-Ch-Changes

The decision to sack Stam seems obvious, in many ways. Our terrible run is well documented, and you only have to look at the table to understand that we haven't been good enough this season. There is, however, a lingering doubt in my mind about whether it was the correct decision.

You only have to look at the players to know that the Dutchman was almost universally loved and admired. As I mentioned back in September - Stam was the heart of this team. Players who wouldn't have had a second look at Reading suddenly found themselves donning blue and white hoops. I'm certain that defensive additions wanted to learn from a world class centre-back, and the motivations for the Dutch contingent seem obvious.

I would love to be wrong, but I can see this causing a further dip in form where the players have lost morale. Yes they 'should be professional', but sometimes life isn't that simple. A change of management can be tumultuous in any occupation.

The style wasn't …