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September

September was not a particularly good month for Reading Football Club. Two points from fifteen see us (quote, unquote) languishing toward the wrong end of the Championship. Poor football has exacerbated the fans' annoyance, but are things really as bad as they seem?

Played five, drawn two, lost three. It sounds bad, but when you consider the goal difference over those five matches is only -3 (or the same as our loss away to Brentford last year) it's clear that we're much closer than our points haul makes out. We're not shipping goals in blow out losses like last season.

Instead all our problems are at the other end. Four goals in the same period is a serious issue, and thus we come to the start of our bad run - game one, Bristol City at home. Now this, unequivocally, was a game that we should have won. Bodvarsson allowed the critics in with a fairly substandard performance that allowed ex-Swindon centre back Aden Flint to win it late on. Bristol went into the international break in fourth place, and we out matched them for the majority of the game.

I admit I wasn't there for Brentford away, and Bodvarsson continued his downward spiral by being brought off at half time. Stam, though, has to be given some credit. The home side, at least in terms of stats, were running away with the game in the first half, but by all accounts The Royals were much better in the second period after Stam changed the approach.

It was difficult to find positives in the Hull game, but the game was saved by Bodvarsson's heroics and he recouped some good will. The change to be more direct seemed to work, even if it was Hull allowed us back into the game.

I don't think anybody who went to Millwall thought we should have lost. Again, not a good game of football but when you go in front with fifteen minutes left you should see it out. Two George Saville goals changed that, but Reading again had some nice periods of play. McCleary on the right seeming to work better than his central role the previous weekend. The dismissal from the referee of a late challenge on the goalscorer Edwards seemed laughable, and denied the chance to salvage a point.

Finally Norwich. A tremendous free kick, and a complete lapse in concentration from the defense overshadowed what was a much better opening forty-five minutes. The team looked lively, and up for it as they came back pretty much immediately from going a goal down.

Really, there were three games where we played poorly in the middle, three that we were unlucky not to take more from anyway, and still no extra points because of that.

Now, ifs and buts mean nothing. It is, famously, a 'results business'. That said I think we're not as far away as some suggest. If Stam over the international break - and this is admittedly a big if - has found a way to add goals to the team then we're in a very strong position.

Obviously, that is much easier said than done, but I think it's clear that in many ways it's not the striker where the problem lies per se, but the ability to get balls into dangerous areas. Something that we were much better at last season, and will be better at again this season. In fact, Bacuna in many ways was the shining light of the team against Norwich, and his drive set off many of the more dangerous attacks. I don't think it's any coincidence that in the second half he was less involved, and we went off the boil as a result.



So, with Bacuna returning, and other players poised to take their part after injury, hopefully now is the time to start our resurgence. It will be tough, and I don't think getting no points from Leeds or Sheffield would necessarily be the end of the world - and certainly not a situation to rebel further, but we starting to need a return in home games against Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest after that.

Look on the bright side, there's only forty days until our first fixture against Bolton.

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