Skip to main content

Luton Town 0-0 Reading

Without trying to put too fine a point on things, Reading were abysmal. When emotions are involved, things can seem much worse than they are, but 'at this stage of the season' results are more important than performances, and to barely trouble Sluga is not good enough. Olise didn't look his normal self, nor did Meite. Puscas didn't really find his rhythm either.

Pressing from the front almost rewarded the away side

As with Cardiff, I think the lack of effort is overstated (mostly). The clearest example of this is Reading's press paying dividends a couple of times in the opening forty-five. In fact, one of The Royals' biggest chances came with Puscas and Ejaria working to dispossess the home side in their own box, but Ovie's poke toward his forward partner ended up being difficult to control and saw Puscas handle before shooting wide anyway. (I think the ref gave it as handball, but the data sites have included it; even if they've included it now, it would have been ruled out because it hit his hand before scoring. I think? Does that happen in the Championship?)

Reading's two shots within the box were from Puscas

Our biggest chance also fell to The Romanian, but I think it was harder than people give credit for. A deflected shot from Rinomhota spun high and fell right onto Puscas head. It was coming at a strange angle, and he just seemed to lose his bearings a little bit. In the end, he probably had enough time to let it drop and strike, but it's a split-second decision. Should he have done better? Maybe. When that's the best chance a side has, though, maybe they need better chances.

At times Reading seemed penned into their own third, and that led to direct passes forward, that rarely found Meite or Puscas. They effectively played as a front two at points, with the other nine behind the ball. When they did work it up the field, a poor touch or pass would inevitably see the move collapse. Olise was a big culprit but, again, I think it looks worse because he uses his left foot for everything, so shifting it with the outside is seen as a bit fancy for English football anyway. Regardless, it's hard to argue he didn't look fully invested.

Another reason why it's harsh to say Reading weren't trying to win the game is just how many times they were then caught on the break pushing men forward in the second half. A more clinical side would have put us to the sword in that second period, but instead, Luton missed final passes to basically unmarked players.

Pushing players forward is not everything though. And here again we see Puscas' attribute of not being Lucas Joao caused a few issues around the edge of the box. Puscas is far more hesitant to have a pop from 18 yards, and that leads to... no shots on target until the 91st minute. You would have thought that Meite would rectify that, but he was completely anonymous. 

I think the easy targets for those that don't think the team are trying hard enough are two players who will (likely) not be at The Madejski next season. Richards and Olise seem to bear the brunt given that their future presumably lies elsewhere. Olise has had a pretty average couple of matches, but it's worth remembering how he provided impetus against Watford or unlocked the game against Derby. That's to say nothing of the rest of the season.

Earlier in the season Ovie would be predominantly attempting to interact with Richards, instead, he's forced to come inside

Richards was one of the shining lights of the opening half of the season but has dipped in people's estimations since coming back from his injury. I think, in reality, Richards has been one of the most consistent performers but Reading have shifted away from having an over-reliance on the left side with Yiadom's reintroduction to the team. That leaves Richards in situations without the same kind of support. And even though Richards may offer width down the left, it doesn't necessarily end up finding him because.. you know, Reading and switching play.

Richards was virtually ignored on the left, while all the play went down the right

In fact, with Meite, Yiadom, and Puscas that relegates Richards to effectively playing as a completely defensive full back. It is interesting that with the three of them on the pitch Paunovic has actually tended toward a system very similar to what Bowen was trying to produce, with Meite coming inside as a second striker and Yiadom being given the entire right-hand side - but that's to the detriment of getting Omar on the ball in dangerous situations.

This is all pointless, I can't wait for the sweet relief of May 9.

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