Skip to main content

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 still far from his best, but there were signs early on that he was improving and looking more comfortable in the system. Those disappeared on Saturday. 0 key passes, 0 successful dribbles, and dispossessed twice. A lot of that could be attributed to not having the enterprising Yiadom down his flank to provide width; I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed but Aluko has a tendency to cut inside.

Clement clearly does not trust Swift or Kelly in the midfield, but the duo of Bacuna and Meyler sat so unbelievably deep throughout much of the game that we ceded almost all of the midfield to Wednesday. That may have worked against a Villa team who were pressing, and had much more of the ball anyway but it meant that we had no out ball. When Barry Bannan is running the game there is a clear issue. And it's not just an issue defensively; with Meite or Bodvarsson up front there's the option to go straight to the strikers, but the moment the big man disappears from the centre of the pitch all of a sudden there's no out ball because nobody's filling the gaping void between defence and attack.

The goals are schoolboy defending. For the first Aluko fails to track his man's run, which gives Penney several days to pick a pass to one of three, unmarked Sheffield Wednesday players on the edge of the box. Mannone's slightly too far over in the goal, and makes the finish even easier. On the replay you can see Meyler slowly jogging back to help out, with Bacuna not even in shot.


Somehow the second is even worse. Seconds after the restart Bannan sells Meyler up the river with The World's Most Obvious Feint before he manages to slide it through three Reading players to Reach. A nice first touch lays it off to Lucas Joao to pick his spot from 25 yards. Little Mannone could do that time. It's embarrassing to watch, I'm not sure how it must feel to play for that side.

And it's not like those were Wednesday's only two chances. Every time they came forward they looked like carving us open. Far too often they were able to open up space with a couple of easy passes. Mannone made a solid stop in the second half just to keep us in the game at 2-0. It was an odd way to set up the team from the start - having the high press from the front two while then having two rigid banks of four that was crying out to be played through.

The trio of changes in the second half helped change our fortunes a little, but it must be said that the goal came from Bacuna picking out a completely unmarked Liam Moore. The only shining light was Josh Sims, who did win the corner in the first place with his deflected shot. Kelly looked a little better than he has done in previous weeks as well, attempting some decent balls and pressing higher than either of the starting central midfielders. Meanwhile McNulty, the other change, just needs a run of games. He's impressed somewhat with his quick passing which he never really got a chance to showcase, and a tame shot - in his one chance to shift the ball - wasted his only real opportunity to contribute.

The main issue that I found from the game is that not one player in the team looked as if they fully grasped their role. I've heard a lot in the last few days about the set up in the club, or relating issues back to Stam's tenure, or how the recruitment into the club hasn't been as good as it should be, but to me it seems simple. The tactics employed on Saturday were wrong. He's had five months, and all summer to imprint his style on the team and Paul Clement is failing to do it.

Don't get me wrong, I would love for him to succeed. What I saw against Derby and Forest was promising. It could be an exciting brand of counter attacking football, but he's not delivering so far, and the decisions here just add fuel to the idea that he may not be good enough.

Comments

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