News and Views

Clarke Seeks Further Redemption At Forest

27 November 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading will be looking to follow up their nervous victory over Bolton Wanderers last weekend with more points at they travel to Nottingham Forest tomorrow for their Championship fixture. It had been a traumatic time for Reading on and off the pitch, and the 2-1 win over Bolton was barely enough to settle things down. The Royals were on the back of five games without a win that had seen them drop from 2nd to 8th in the table before Steve Clarke looked set to join Fulham. Clarke was practically already named as Fulham boss until his move broke down after he failed to negotiate the deal he wanted to take him to London. Presumably Fulham couldn't stump up enough cash and Clarke was forced to return to Reading with his tail between his legs and continue in charge of the Royals.

The result was a very subdued Madjeski Stadium and a very average performance by Reading. We probably came across Bolton at just the right time with Wanderers seriously struggling at the wrong end of the table with just one win to their name all season. If we'd come up against decent opposition it would have been a defeat and post-match discussion about what a shame it was that Clarke didn't complete his move. Clarke still has it all to do to win back Reading fans. Those fans still expect promotion this season after such big changes in the summer and Clarke's backing from our Thai owners.

Nottingham Forest are another team in the wrong half of the table but have already picked up six more points than Bolton and should provide a much tougher test. They were beaten by a resurgent Brentford last weekend but were 1-0 home winners over Derby before that. That was preceeded with eight games without a win as their reasonable form left them. Reading will probably need to improve to get anything at Forest but it remains a good opportunity for Clarke to continue his redemption.

Clarke sent Stacey out on loan to Barnet, and Novakovich out to Cheltenham this week, in a clear indication that he has no big plans to introduce any fringe players into the squad. With a number of players out on loan, who might have hoped to feature in the first team this season, it's clear that Clarke is sticking to his plan with his choice of players. Clarke usually can't resist tinkering with the side, but with no new injury concerns, and players yet to complete their full returns from injury, we're likely to see a similar line-up to last weekend this time around.

Last season was a total write off for Reading in games involved against Nottingham Forest. In August 2014 Reading sunk to 19th place in a very early Championship table with a 0-4 thrashing away from home. The reverse tie wasn't any better either. In February Reading were again heading the wrong direction, down the league, and three second half goals from the visitors were enough to send Reading fans out of the Madejski Stadium early after a 0-3 defeat.

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