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This is the Worst Season of Football Since 2014/15 a.k.a. It's the Hope that Kills You

I think the worst bit about a final minute loss to 'boro is the absolute inevitability of the situation. Vydra misses a chance to put Reading into the lead, Williams loses his head, and Reading concede an absolutely shambolic goal that almost makes last season's Brentford debacle look like competent defending.

You only have to look at the reverse fixture to see how far Reading have fallen - a commanding 2-0 victory that cemented third place in the table. That fixture was the last before the first international break, which arguably proved the turning point in this season. Reading then scraped past Charlton before surrendering a two goal advantage in four minutes away at Craven Cottage and from there it's been a truly dire six months. Before that game Reading had won 6 games, and sat second in the table, in the subsequent 30 games there have been only seven more wins. How did it go so wrong?

Despite how it felt in September most pre-season signings have proved to be catrostrophic failures. Orlando Sá is no longer at the club, and Paolo Hurtado returned to Portugal on loan. Jonathon Bond and Ali Al-Habsi have both tried their best to give the other a chance in goal. The loanees have faired no better. Álex hasn't been able to get into the team, Piazon has contributed towards five league goals in twenty two starts, which sounds reasonable until you consider the last was Bolton at home in November after charging down a poor clearance. Matej Vydra has cost the club more points than he's won, and his goal against Forest was also his first goal or assist in the league since the last game against Forest. Whoscored ranks him the worst of any regular player (the players below him don't have as many starts combined as he does).

There was one shining light this year, Nick Blackman. The kid who finally came good. The signs have legitimately been there since he signed, but for some reason he was scapegoated and never given a real chance until this year. Then bam! Contributing more goals before the first international break than Vydra has in the entire season. He dried up after the Fulham debacle, as did the whole team, and a lot of that was down to his move back to the wing where he was nowhere near as potent. He was offloaded in January, unfortunately when there was still a chance to kick on. Still, perhaps he didn't want to be here - who could blame him considering the abuse he got from some of the fans - or perhaps the offer was too good to turn down.

Then there's the decision to phase out loan players which leads to the resurgence of the Williams/Norwood partnership which does not work. I am, frankly, tired of Danny Williams existence at Reading - especially after tonight's scrap with the captain. I won't be unhappy if he's offloaded over summer. He's not passionate, he's hotheaded. He's an absolute liability half the time, and his shots from outside the box do not work at all. Two goals in 79 shots from outside the penalty area (and that's including a fairly simple slot past the keeper against Bolton). Yes, his other goal is in the running for goal of the season but the law of averages always comes good at some stage.

With Williams pushing forward, and playing as a Regista (I've been playing a lot of Football Manager lately), that leaves Norwood to sit in a Half Back role. A player who makes more key passes per game than anybody else in the team is relegated to sitting in front of the back four. I understand that Tshibola isn't fit, and we need to get ready to life without Hector, but then play a five at the back and let Norwood roam until his heart's content.

I think I'd be playing a 5-2-2-1 (or at least that's what my brother tells me it's called). Obita and Gunter can push forward; Cooper can play with the ball at his feet; and Norwood can push up a bit, dropping into the hole when necessary. We manage to get all of Norwood, John, and McCleary on the pitch at once so we'd potentially have some sort of creativity in the side. Quinn would hopefully provide the hustle and bustle in midfield, while Kermorgant can hold up the ball and lay it off to the wingers/an onrushing Norwood to pick out the top corner for sixty-five yards.

I'm done with this season, I've been done with this season for weeks. This is how I felt about last season. That is precisely what I'm worried about. I do think calling for McDermott's head is premature, it must be difficult to motivate a team when half the team won't be here come August. Last time he managed to make an immediate impact because Siggy carried the team for months, this will be a slower rebuild, but I'm confident he'll get there. Let's remember, he's the guy that brought in Nick Blackman to begin with and we all know what a bargain that turned out to be.


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