Tim Dellor's Royals Watching: Reading face more issues after another tough defeat
The most memorable element of Reading’s defeat at Millwall was the absence of manager Veljko Paunovic. He was stuck at home with a positive Covid result. Unfortunately this is the only positive result he has had in the last month. Four consecutive defeats, all of which have come about in a remarkably similar manner, leaves Reading nervously floundering in the bottom half of the table.
Cast your mind back to school days, when the supply teacher walked into the classroom at the start of the day. The pressure disappeared and the party started. Marco Mitrovic, Veljko Paunovic’s assistant manager was playing the role of supply teacher, but sadly the pupils most likely to create the party atmosphere had stayed at home with a sicknote from their Mum.
Paunovic watched the game from home, self-isolating. As an under-pressure manager with lots of energy and a love of matchdays this must have been tortuous. Through the wonders of zoom he was still able to run a meeting with his team at the hotel pre-match, and even popped up on a speaker at half time in the dressing room with his thoughts.
There was an irony in the manager missing the game. So many of his players now miss games he has reached the point of refusing to talk about injuries. Pushed on likely return dates for his dozen injured players Paunovic completely batted away any speculation, telling me all I need to know was lots of players are out injured. I knew that, anyway.
They lose a player every game. Danny Drinkwater and Andy Yiadom were both unavailable for Millwall. Liam Moore looks highly unlikely to feature in the game on Saturday at St Andrew’s, having finished the night at The Den playing on one leg.
It’s getting boring, but quite simply Reading’s eleven is exhausted. All the goals conceded in the last four games have come in the second halves. Without any impact subs available players are running themselves into the ground. They have only nine fit outfield players available. Take this the right way, but it is such a shame the only senior player on the bench is a goalkeeper of Rafael’s calibre. If it was a striker or midfielder of that quality the problems would not be so grave.
Yiadom, like his manager, was self-isolating. To sum up, there is Covid in the camp, a dozen senior players are out injured, the manager is not able to work with the players, the team has lost four games in a row, the EFL is about to clobber the club with a nine point deduction for over-spending, and attendances have plummeted this season. Reading fans have enjoyed better times.
Most of the issues will ease if the club can get several senior players back fit after the international break, on November 20. The over-worked medical department have never been so busy. In the meantime it is about damage limitation.