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

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

The Big Man Cometh

In the grand scheme of things, I consider myself a bit of an Andy Carroll sceptic. Reading have a penchant for signing players that spend the majority of their time in the physio room, and Carroll aligns with that transfer policy to a tee. It must be said that given the lack of other options, and a short term deal that has no real risk for the club, there isn't any big downside in gambling on the Geordie. With that being said, even I was calling out for the introduction for The Big Man at half-time on Saturday. Reading had a heap of possession just outside the box in the opening forty-five but couldn't translate that into chances. Drinkwater had a tame shot saved after good work from Yiadom, but the best chance of the half fell to Puscas after a fortuitous deflection off a Forest player. The flag went up for offside but it didn't matter as the striker couldn't convert anyway. Both managers had done a fairly good job at negating the other side's strengths. Forest'

Reading 2-2 Huddersfield Town

It is frankly unbelievable that Reading managed to lose a match where they were so in control. Huddersfield didn't have a shot for the best part of forty-five minutes, and it's no real surprise that they only came back into the game after Paunovic's substitutions. It's likely that they're still managing Swift's minutes, there's no point injuring him in a game like this, and Olise was clearly struggling but to replace them with Tetek and Moore shows a depressingly defensive outlook. Sone or Camara was right there, Veljko. Reading's midfield quartet ended up too deep, and too narrow. It moved Reading to a 5-4-1, but with a quartet solely made up of central players who were clearly not completely comfortable in the role they were being asked to perform. Huddersfield had far too much time and space inside the Reading half, with all four midfielders largely looking to camp out in front of the defence. Rinomhota hands across the Huddersfield player, but that l