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Reading 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Doom and gloom.

Let's start at the team sheet. Blackett dropped and Bodvarsson injured, with Gunter and Meite coming in for the pair. I cannot get my head around the change at the back. Blackett has been regarded as one of the positives this season, and few believed that Gunter should be allowed to walk back into the team after the performances of our only viable natural left back and Yiadom.

Not only had Blackett been playing well, but Gunter does not fit in Clement's system. From everything we've seen so far full backs need to be able to get forward, provide impetus, and put a good ball in. I'm not one of those who have something against Gunter - I think he's a good footballer who provides more defensive stability than most in his position, hence why he's perfect for Wales - but he does not tick the boxes for Reading right now.

Another of the season's wannabe-redemption stories looked much worse on Saturday because of the change behind him. Sone Aluko is still far from his best, but there were signs early on that he was improving and looking more comfortable in the system. Those disappeared on Saturday. 0 key passes, 0 successful dribbles, and dispossessed twice. A lot of that could be attributed to not having the enterprising Yiadom down his flank to provide width; I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed but Aluko has a tendency to cut inside.

Clement clearly does not trust Swift or Kelly in the midfield, but the duo of Bacuna and Meyler sat so unbelievably deep throughout much of the game that we ceded almost all of the midfield to Wednesday. That may have worked against a Villa team who were pressing, and had much more of the ball anyway but it meant that we had no out ball. When Barry Bannan is running the game there is a clear issue. And it's not just an issue defensively; with Meite or Bodvarsson up front there's the option to go straight to the strikers, but the moment the big man disappears from the centre of the pitch all of a sudden there's no out ball because nobody's filling the gaping void between defence and attack.

The goals are schoolboy defending. For the first Aluko fails to track his man's run, which gives Penney several days to pick a pass to one of three, unmarked Sheffield Wednesday players on the edge of the box. Mannone's slightly too far over in the goal, and makes the finish even easier. On the replay you can see Meyler slowly jogging back to help out, with Bacuna not even in shot.


Somehow the second is even worse. Seconds after the restart Bannan sells Meyler up the river with The World's Most Obvious Feint before he manages to slide it through three Reading players to Reach. A nice first touch lays it off to Lucas Joao to pick his spot from 25 yards. Little Mannone could do that time. It's embarrassing to watch, I'm not sure how it must feel to play for that side.

And it's not like those were Wednesday's only two chances. Every time they came forward they looked like carving us open. Far too often they were able to open up space with a couple of easy passes. Mannone made a solid stop in the second half just to keep us in the game at 2-0. It was an odd way to set up the team from the start - having the high press from the front two while then having two rigid banks of four that was crying out to be played through.

The trio of changes in the second half helped change our fortunes a little, but it must be said that the goal came from Bacuna picking out a completely unmarked Liam Moore. The only shining light was Josh Sims, who did win the corner in the first place with his deflected shot. Kelly looked a little better than he has done in previous weeks as well, attempting some decent balls and pressing higher than either of the starting central midfielders. Meanwhile McNulty, the other change, just needs a run of games. He's impressed somewhat with his quick passing which he never really got a chance to showcase, and a tame shot - in his one chance to shift the ball - wasted his only real opportunity to contribute.

The main issue that I found from the game is that not one player in the team looked as if they fully grasped their role. I've heard a lot in the last few days about the set up in the club, or relating issues back to Stam's tenure, or how the recruitment into the club hasn't been as good as it should be, but to me it seems simple. The tactics employed on Saturday were wrong. He's had five months, and all summer to imprint his style on the team and Paul Clement is failing to do it.

Don't get me wrong, I would love for him to succeed. What I saw against Derby and Forest was promising. It could be an exciting brand of counter attacking football, but he's not delivering so far, and the decisions here just add fuel to the idea that he may not be good enough.

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