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Replacing Charlie Adam

As I've said in my post about the transfer window, I'd be looking to bring in a replacement for Charlie Adam this month. That would allow whoever came in to learn from Adam over the course of the next six months - or longer, if his contract is extended - and give us cover in a position where we're light.

So the most important question: How does Charlie Adam fit into this Reading side?

It's actually a difficult question to answer. His cameo against Birmingham late on set the tone for his first few appearances. A lot of pinpoint long balls, playing almost as a quarter-back. His role slightly changed against Preston and Fulham, presumably where we were expecting to see less of the ball. Then against Forest he was in the ten role, where he was trying to unlock the defence, but not necessarily playing Hollywood balls. The one constant is he is always trying to progress the ball.

Obviously he's also a danger at set pieces, but we have so many in the squad that are decent with the dead ball that I've not prioritised that.

It's surprisingly hard to find teams that play in a similar way to Reading. Most nowadays are focused on playing out from the back, or going via the wings. There's very few that have someone spraying passes all over the pitch, or at least very few that are also viable options.

Anyhow, here's a few that may fit. Huge caveat that judging true potential based on YouTube highlights is quite difficult.

Louis Reed

Peterborough United | 22

He's traditionally sat deeper than Adam, normally shielding the back four, but has a great long ball and always seems composed in possession. Due to that deeper role his defensive stats are pretty high - he sits fourth for successful tackles in League One, and top of tackles attempted. That may make him a better replacement for Pelé, but there's no reason that I've seen why he couldn't adapt.

In his current role when he has time he's looking to put it into the channel for one of Mo Eisa or Ivan Toney. When pressured he attempts to shift the ball quickly, usually to one of the full backs. It's rare that he's caught in possession.

Ryan Wintle

Crewe Alexandra | 22

It may be a significant step-up from League Two, but Wintle has shown himself to be integral at that level. He has the same desire to go forward that Adam shows, when he gets the ball he's looking to start attacks, and has one of the best passing success rates in the league - even if these clips may not show that!

He's not afraid to run with the ball, although seems to save it for when there's no obvious pass, and another that's not losing the ball often. He can deputise at centre back, but even then looks to instigate. He's already made 100 appearances for Crewe, which he joined after being spotted playing non-league.

Scott Fraser

Burton Albion | 24

It's more than likely that Adam's forward role is only temporary (read: just for the Forest game) but if it weren't we could bring in someone like Scott Fraser. Hardly a niche pick, the Burton player leads the league in assists this season; something that could set him up nicely to double as Swift's back-up.

He's not as Skilful as Swift, but his decision making always seems to be second-to-none. He'll often run beyond the striker on the left hand side of the box and pick out a player for them to finish. His contract expires in the summer, and sounds like there's already clubs at our level circling.

And he doesn't even steal goals from his teammates. What a guy.

Liam Kelly

Oxford United (on loan from Feyenoord) | 24

Once upon a time a Reading academy grad broke through with a wand of a right foot. Alongside others he helped lead the team to Wembley, where they fell at the final hurdle. After that he started to fall off the pace. The manager he trusted moved on, and he never reached those heights again. That said he has many of the same attributes that Charlie Adam. Progressive passing, accurate long balls, decent free-kicks.

It's still difficult to understand what happened to see his form decline so sharply, but it was hardly isolated to him. I'm not really suggesting that we should bring him back, more the idea that if he hadn't left to begin with he'd be a great choice in that role.


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