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Showing posts from October, 2020

The Banter Era

This is a piece I wrote before the start of the season, when I wasn't expecting quite the start we've had. I was reminiscing about the good moments we've had - in amongst the years of not so great performance. I saw a discussion on twitter recently about the start of Reading’s banter era. By now I put us roughly six years and four months in - with the start being Reading fans infamously storming the pitch believing the team to have made the play-offs when, in fact, Brighton’s ninety-second minute winner at Nottingham Forest had pipped us to the post. Some could argue it started earlier; The Russian multi-millionaire that had no money, drawing to an eight-man Yeovil side, Royston Drenthe. 2013/14 was particularly rife with moments that any masochist could enjoy. Since then only one manager has lasted a year in the job, Yakubu has donned the blue and white hoops in an FA Cup Semi Final, we’ve been asset stripped by one set of owners who also released the World’s greatest foot

Blackburn 2-4 Reading

IT'S NEVER GOING TO END. THIS WAS MEANT TO BE A REAL TEST. WE PASSED IT WITH FLYING COLOURS. Reading set-up as they finished the previous game - in a 4-3-3 mirroring Blackburn (or, probably more accurately, a 4-4-2 diamond). Whether that was to match up Blackburn, or because we looked more comfortable after switching on Saturday, who knows? When Blackburn had the ball at the back Olise pushed forward to form a front three, with the midfield trio picking up their counterparts. Which made it hard for the home team to progress the ball, and forced them to play wide. A lot to break down. Olise never catches Rankin-Costello, while Gallagher's run keeps Richards narrow. Meaning the RB has plenty of space to pick out the run of Armstrong across Morrison, and between the central defenders. Normally Laurent spots that kind of danger quicker, and could have slotted between the CBs - but that's being very picky. Which, to be fair, is where Blackburn scored two almost identical goals f

Reading 3-0 Rotherham

For the second match running Reading made hard work of a newly promoted side, but ultimately deserved the three points. 1 in 2 of Semedo's passes went astray Paunovic's decision to give Semedo his full debut in the attacking midfield slot ended up looking like a mistake. Nothing would stick to the loanee, and his passing was astonishingly poor - almost scuppering the move leading to the opening goal by passing straight to Rotherham, before Ovie managed to win the ball back. How it's meant to work - Laurent shades to the left so he can cover Richards (and helpfully also tracks the man coming into his space) That lead to a change in formation, to a 4-1-4-1. Rinomhota partnered Semedo, and left Laurent to sit between the lines. The issue is that fundamentally changed how well the screen in front of the defence works. With Rinomhota and Laurent they're able to cover wider because they're not expected to be perfectly central. That allowed Rotherham the ability to exploit

Reading 1-0 Wycombe

There are a couple of ways to read the match. Reading registered fewer shots than at any other point so far this season - and there were already concerns about the frequency of our attempts. On the flip side, we were again clinical, Lucas Joao coming to the rescue to take the only chance we needed. And what some podcast hosts may be missing is that there is clear room for improvement. One of our main playmakers is out injured, and Tom Holmes has been filling in at right-back. Tomás Esteves and Alfa Semedo have both looked promising in their cameos, and the Ovie Ejaria express appears to be kicking into life. With a good touch Meite is clean through on goal, or can play through Joao - but his first touch takes him straight into the Wycombe defender. The Royals also got themselves into good positions but didn't always capitalise to the fullest extent. Yakou Meite should have scored from a rather exquisite Ejaria cross at the end of the first half, and Liam Moore ballooned a free head

Middlesbrough 0-0 Reading

Reading once again kept the opposition at bay, but this time they couldn't find a way through at the other end. Reading were dominant defensively. Winning all four headers in their own box, and blocking four shots. Morrison and Moore dominated in the air, neutralising most of Middlesbrough's more dangerous positions. Unsurprisingly, they were mainly under pressure courtesy of set pieces (and Jonny Howson). Rafael tipped over a deflected Howson shot (set up from a throw-in, it counts), and pulled off the same save from the resulting corner after Morro diverted it toward his own goal. As the ball is delivered, one #Boro player drops, and the deeper players move up to form a solid ring of pitch control. This effectively ensures that they have the best chance to win the second ball, they recycle possession and get another FK by the flag (from which they 'score') — Another Football Analyst (@Analytics1871) October 18, 2020 The second half brought

Reading 1-0 Watford

Okay, I did say that if we managed to get a result from this match I'd start to get excited. And here we are, 3 points later. Watford had the better of the early going, playing dangerous balls in from their left-hand side. Switches in play caught Tom Holmes narrow, or Meite failed to track the run of the second player. If I were an opposition manager I'd be looking to switch the play almost every time - either with a player undercutting Richards (who goes wide early to attempt to close down that ball), or overlapping Holmes (who stays narrow). Most of Holmes passing was safe balls inside, rather than attempting to be incisive Reading's right side of defence was fairly dysfunctional getting the ball forward. Holmes and Morrison don't trust themselves to play forwards, and deferred to others. That is, of course, other than Holmes' assist for the goal. It was noticeable that it was his only pass from the middle of the pitch - tending to stick to wider areas. Much like

Cardiff City 0-2 Reading

Three wins out of three. You literally cannot ask for more in terms of results. Reading's passing combinations are largely down the left hand side Early on it was clear that Reading were looking to play through the full-backs again. They start high and are the first choice for Rafael or the centre backs. That works down the left side, where Richards is unbelievably good at wriggling between players and is backed up by Ejaria and Olise, but on the right things tend to be more difficult. Meite is more disconnected from the FB to begin with, and Araruna can't beat a player in the same way. Cardiff shut off passes into midfield, instead Morrison goes long to Meite - a tactic employed a fair amount over the afternoon. Meite's natural game is to try runs in behind the LB. As a whole Reading did struggle to play out from the back, as against Barnsley. Six goals so far this season - four from set-pieces, one from a long ball over the defensive line, and one catching the opposition