Tim Dellor's Royals Column: Another week, another defeat for troubling Reading
“A failure of leadership and judgement….some behaviour difficult to justify…too little thought given…failure to observe standards…some events should not have been allowed to take place, and others should not have been allowed to develop as they did”.
If Reading want to review the last few months it would take Sue Gray minimal tweaking of her recent report. Cut and paste, change a few key words, and hey presto, an accurate summary of the recent local football debacle. Reading FC is 10 Downing Street without the partying.
Another week, another defeat on the pitch, and more shambolic decision making and management off the pitch.
The four goals conceded at QPR were symptomatic of the issues this season. Dubious defending, a striker giving the ball away cheaply, and zonal marking accounted for the four goals. After the match manager Veljko Paunovic told me “between all the goals I think we played well”. That was the moment you realised he is either watching a different game, is too tired to think straight, or believes the fans are extraordinarily ignorant.
Paunovic also stated his intention to bring in a defender before the transfer window closed on Monday evening. What actually happened on Monday was the aforementioned striker who gave the ball away cheaply cleared off to Pisa until the end of the season at least. The Tuscans have enough trouble with their leaning tower – now they have an askew striker to deal with, as well.
Also on Monday “troublemaker” Liam Moore (a defender) was moved out to Stoke. In return Tom Ince (a winger) arrived at Reading. In a couple of weeks time Ince can compete with Ovie Ejaria, Junior Hoilett, Yakou Meite, Marmadi Camara, and Tom Dele Bashiru for a starting spot.
The manager was right. What they needed was a defender, but what they got was a winger. This is a team that conceded 21 goals in January – the most in a single month since 1930. They have lost five consecutive league games – the most in a row outside the top flight since 1998. Stopping the opposition scoring goals at will needs to be the first priority, and to do that defenders are top of the shopping list.
Of course, everyone will point to the transfer embargo and the EFL’s hawk-like eye on Reading’s business dealings being the reason positive activity was so limited during this last window. Ridding themselves of Liam Moore, goalkeeper Rafael, and George Puscas’ wages is a step in the right direction. Most of us had assumed that would free up the club to bring in at least one player in a priority position.
“It will be fine as long as we don’t get any more injuries” is what I keep hearing from fans. Look at the injury record so far this season. Odds, based on recent history, would suggest we absolutely should expect plenty more injuries before the end of the season.
The league table makes nerve wracking reading, with Reading hovering just two points and one place above Peterborough, who are below the dotted line. At least for the first time since New Year’s Day Reading will not lose this Saturday. They do not play until next Wednesday, at Bristol City.