Reading Football Club News: August 2016
Hunt For Away Win Continues At Cardiff
26 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Reading travel to Cardiff City this weekend, with both sides looking for only their second league wins of the new campaign. It has been an indifferent start for both clubs in the Championship with Cardiff sitting in 15th in the early Championship table - a point ahead of the Royals who are 21st after four games. It's still very early days of course, but Jaap Stam's Reading could really do with at least a point to follow up on our decent point taken against Brighton in our last league game.
Reading have beaten Cardiff twice in our last 16 attempts - with the wins both coming away from home in the FA Cup and in the Championship Play-Off first leg. Excluding those fixtures, which were wins in the important games, Reading have struggled against Cardiff in recent history. Last season we lost 0-2 in Cardiff before picking up a 1-1 draw at the Madejski Stadium later in the season.
The Royals scraped through on penalties against MK Dons in midweek but appeared to seriously suffer with fitness as the game entered extra time. Luckily Stam has plenty of players to choose from as he is certain to make changed to the League Cup side. Striker Rakels will be unavailable after picking up a first half injury on Tuesday night. Al Habsi is likely to be recalled in goal to reaplce Jaakkola. Meanwhile third choice goalkeeper Bond has left to join Gillingham on loan and to pick up some vital first team action after dropping down the ranks at Reading.
Graphics supplied by KickOff.
Royals Get Brighton In League Cup
24 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Reading have been drawn away at Brighton and Hove Albion in the third round of the League Cup. The game follows last weekend's 2-2 home draw in the Championship against Brighton.
The Royals made it to the third round after victories over Plymouth Argyle in round one and last night's penalty shootout victory over MK Dons - both at the Madejski Stadium.
Brighton have scored four goals in both of their League Cup fixtures so far this season. They started with a 4-0 home win over Colchester before reaching round three with a 4-2 away victory at Oxford United last night.
- League Cup Round 1: Reading 2 Plymouth 0
- League Cup Round 2: Reading 2 MK Dons 2 (Reading win 4-3 on penalties)
Royals Scrape Past MK Dons
24 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Jordan Obita hammered home the crucial fourth spot kick to send Reading through to the third round of the EFL Cup on penalties after the Royals had made hard work of a match they should have won comfortably. Both managers used the tie as an opportunity to take a look at new and relatively inexperienced players. Jaap Stam included debutants Liam Moore, Danzell Gravenbach and Liam Kelly in his starting eleven in a team loaded with promising youngsters and recent signings. It was far from Reading's strongest team but still far superior to a similarly experimental MK Dons eleven.
For over half an hour the visitors found it hard to get out of their own half as Reading played the same system as in recent games passing the ball patiently across the back, retaining possession and looking to pass their way through and around their opponent's defence. Everything was going to plan apart from the final ball and the quality of finish. Harriot looked particularly sharp going past his man and firing in a couple of fierce shots from wide positions. Reading were forced to make a change when Rakkels sustained a nasty injury in a challenge on a Dons defender near the corner flag. Beerens came on to replace him on the left. On the other flank Harriot and Watson were combining well and getting behind the visitors defence. MK Dons were gifted the lead on thirty-five minutes when Cooper sold 'keeper Jaakola short with an unbelievably sloppy back pass. Jaakola did his best to recover the situation as Tshimanga raced through, but appeared to clip the Dons forward and miss the ball on the edge of the box. The referee's verdict was a penalty and a yellow card. (It might have been worse as there was no cover behind Jaakola.) The experienced Bowditch stepped up and confidently put the penalty in the net. Read More...
Tyler Blackett and Liam Moore Confirmed
22 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Reading have confirmed the signings of Liam Moore from Leicester City and Tyler Blackett from Manchester United as Stam strengthens his defence.
Blackett, 22, signs a three year contract with the Royals after spending last season on-loan at Celtic. After signing professional terms with United in July 2013 he went on loan to Blackpool and then Birmingham before returning to Manchester to become a regular in the first team squad in the 2014/2015 season. He immediately picked up a full 90 minutes to start the season and went on to make 12 appearances for the Red Devils that season.
Central defender Liam Moore has gone one better and has secured a four year contract to move from Leicester to the Royals. Despite making over 60 appearances for Leicester City, Moore failed to make a Premier League appearance last season as his club won the title. He was forced to settle for a single League Cup appearance before moving to Bristol City on loan. He faced the Royals in two games last season as Reading picked up six points over his loan club. Moore, 23 years old, had an extended run in the Leicester side in the 2014/2015 Premier League season and followed it up with appearances for the England Under 21 side in their European Championship campaign. He has also had loan spells at Brentford and Bradford City.
The two new additions to Jaap Stam's squad bring his total signings up to eleven as he has effectively rebuilt the team over the summer. The latest signings continue the theme of young players with bags of potential and both players already have plenty of experience at the highest level of English football.
Swift Goal As Royals Draw With Brighton
20 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
It took the Royals a mere two minutes to breach an Albion defence which had not conceded in their opening four fixtures of the season. Beerens won a free kick wide on the right and Swift whipped in an inviting cross which eluded everyone and curled inside the far post. It was just the start Reading needed following two successive away defeats last week. There may have been a few raised eyebrows when Jaap Stam opted to retain the same starting eleven form the previous two games, but his decision was vindicated with convincing performance against a strong Albion side. On the balance of play and chances created Reading could reasonably argue they deserved all three points.
Reading Face Tough Away Tests
12 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
After two straight wins to start the new season, Reading now face two big tests that will give a much better indication of how Jaap Stam's side might measure up in the Championship this season. First up, the Royals travel to Wolves this Saturday, and that's quickly followed by Wednesday night's trip to just relegated, and promotion favourties, Newcastle United. After straight forward home victories against Preston North End in the League and Plymouth in the cup it's likely to be a very different story on the road as we look to build on a postitive start to the new season. Both the games so far Reading have dominated possession throughout - it will be interesting if the passing game continues away from home against sides expecting home wins.
Saturday's opposition, Wolves, started the season with a 2-2 away draw at Rotherham, securing the point after coming back from two goals down, and playing most of the second half with ten men after Iorfa was sent off. Iorfa has already served his one match ban when his team mates secured a 2-1 League Cup win over Crawley mid-week.
Stam fielded a strong side against Plymouth in the league cup, with not as many changes as expected, and appears to already be getting a feel for what his strongest starting eleven might be. Jaakkola was handed his Reading debut in goal on Tuesday night, but will probably find Al Habsi back in goal for the trip to Wolves. Neither keeper has had much to do so far, making it difficult to stake a claim for first choice keeper. McShane looked a better option in defence than Cooper and will find himself back in the team. Up front Kermorgant started on Tuesday but failed to make his mark, leaving Rakels hoping to be back in the starting elevent. Stam has plenty of options and plenty of players hoping to be involved including Yakou Meite who came off the bench against Plymouth and will be hoping to make his second Royals appearance.
Last season we were disappointing against Wolves. At home we drew 0-0, while away we went down 0-1 after James Henry's early goal for the home side. We will be hoping for something similar to the season before, in February 2015, when we were 2-1 winners away from home thanks to goals from Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Williams.
Graphics supplied by KickOff.
Royals Get MK Dons In Next Round
11 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
After Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle in round one, Reading will play MK Dons in the second round of the League Cup. The game will take place at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday 23 August. The League One side were 3-2 away winners against Newport County in their first round game, thanks to a last minute winner, and like the Royals, have started the season with two straight wins.
Last season MK Dons were relegated from the Championship - but they managed to keep two clean sheets against the Royals while picking up four points. Reading drew 0-0 at the Madejski but lost 0-1 away from home in two poor quality games.
Recent Meetings With MK DONS
|16 January 2016||Championship||MK Dons (Away)||L: 0-1||Read report...|
|22 August 2015||Championship||MK Dons (HOME)||D: 0-0||Read report...|
Royals Cruise Into Next Round Of League Cup
10 August 2016
By Alex Bower
"I thought we played very well- especially in the first half. In the second half as well we had some good possession; I think we're playing the way the gaffer wants us to, and I think it's really starting to come off now."
- George Evans (Reading FC)
"I was pleased with the result, very happy. But with how we played... I think we could have done a lot better."
- Reading Manager Jaap Stam
"The movement from Reading was excellent. They passed the ball well; they did that on Saturday to Preston so we knew that was going to be the case. It is difficuly because of the level we are at and the level they are at."
- Plymouth Manager Derek Adams
Reading cruised into the next round of the EFL Cup with a 2-0 home win against League Two side Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday evening. Both goals came in the first-half with Joey van den Berg and Roy Beerens both scoring their first for the club.
The Royals took the lead when van den Berg headed in John Swift's free kick across goal and into the bottom corner. Beerens then made it two when he latched onto a rebound with a fierce left-footed drive.
Jaap Stam made five changes to the starting eleven following the win against Preston at the weekend. Ali Al-Habsi was replaced by Anssi Jaakkola in goal, with the latter making his Reading debut. Jake Cooper came in for Paul McShane at centre-back, with Chris Gunter subsequently taking the captain's armband. After being substituted in the last game, Jordan Obita was not risked and Tennai Watson started in his place. Yann Kermorgant was favoured up front instead of Deniss Rakels, while Callum Harriott made his full debut in place of Garath McCleary.
Reading began the game as they meant to continue, dominating possession throughout. After ten minutes, Swift had the first opportunity to have a shot after collecting the ball from a Watson throw. After turning and running towards the box, he was crowded out before he was able to take the shot.
On the sixteen minute mark, Reading were to take the lead. Harriott won the free kick on the left wing and left Swift to take it. The midfielder seems to be a great replacement for the recently departed Oliver Norwood, delivering an inch perfect cross into the box. Van den Berg was the player who rose highest to meet it and directed the ball past Vincent Dorel in the Plymouth goal with relative ease.
Despite playing with two compact lines of four, Reading continued to pass the ball around the Plymouth players with ease as they awaited the right opportunity to open up for them. Beerens picked out Harriott, but his drive was stopped by a diving Dorel. A second Reading goal was seemingly inevitable, it was just a matter of when.
Just before the half hour mark, the Royals got their second. Gunter broke down the left and cut inside before unleashing a rare right footed shot. Dorel made a nice save but was only able to push it as far as an awaiting Beerens, who fired it past a crowd of players and into the goal.
The chances kept coming for the home side, with Watson's cross being turned narrowly wide by Kermorgant and a Williams shot with the outside of the boot being blocked by Sonny Bradley.
Reading went in at half-time two goals to the good, and continued to look threatening as the second began. Possession was the name of the game once again for the Royals and they looked happy to pass the ball around the back five as often as they saw fit.
The first effort of the half fell again to Harriott, who cut in before firing at goal. Dorel, once again, did well to save to his left. Plymouth fans were soon happy to see their side have a shot, as Bradley blasted over from a corner. It was met with much sarcastic cheering from the Plymouth fans, who were clearly enjoying themselves despite the underwhelming performance from their side.
Clearly feeling confident about the Reading display, Stam chose to make a substitution just before the hour mark. An impressive Harriott was brought off and Yakou Meite was brought on in his place to make his debut. From what fans have seen of Harriott in his last two performances, he will certainly be giving McCleary a run for his money in the starting eleven.
Despite clearly being well off full fitness, Meite looked like another exciting player for the Royals. He looked pacey and was certainly not afraid to pull the trigger, forcing Dorel into another save. Other than a David Goodwillie shot being fired into the side netting, Reading looked largely untested as the second half went on.
While largely happy to pass the ball around, often at snail pace, Reading forged a few more opportunities as the game reached its close. Swift, once again proving his value early on in the season, had one effort blocked and another from distance flew over the bar. Kermorgant managed to get the ball into the net with a well taken chip, but referee Simon Hooper deemed it to be offside.
The best chance for Plymouth came in injury time, when Bradley's well hit effort ended up wide of the post. While Reading were unable to extend their lead further in the second half, it was an easy win for the home side.
Averaging at 71% possession, Stam's plan was once again used to good effect. While some may say that it was boring to watch, especially in the second half, it is clearly beneficial. While Reading will be facing much tougher opposition this season, it is nice to see the players committing to a system that is currently working for them. It will also be interesting to see how the system fares against stronger opposition who are willing to attack Reading, rather than sit back and defend for large periods of the game.
In a game against much weaker opposition, it is somewhat difficult to take much from the game. The team worked well as a unit and continued to create opportunities. I was somewhat surprised that so many first-team players all started and that Stam made only one substitution during the game. If Meite can get past the language barrier and work on his fitness over the next few weeks, then he could be a real asset for the Royals.
One player who is already proving his worth is Swift, who once again put in an impressive performance. The midfielder already seems to be running the show, along with Beerens, and they will be important players to keep fit for the duration of the season. Another player that looked at home in the first team was Watson. Despite only making a push for the starting eleven in recent games, the youngster already seems to be settling in nicely. With every game he seems to be getting more confident and playing both defensively and going forward in a very composed manner.
There have been rumours circulating recently regarding Cooper's future, with Stam opting with McShane and van den Berg at the back against Preston. If such rumours have any truth in them, then you would have to say his performance against Plymouth will not help matters. While his headed clearances are still good, his passes were well off the mark. Despite being gifted what felt like an age to pick out a pass, too often he misjudged them completely and gave away possession. In a strong Reading team, his performance was the main weak link on the night. That being said, if there was anyone who could help iron out the mistakes in his game it would be Stam.
The other, was once again the striker. This time Stam opted with Kermorgant up front but he achieved the same result. The strikers that Reading have in the system that they are employing, just do not seem to be working. Kermorgant saw as much of the ball as Rakels did at the weekend, and he increasingly dropped into midfield to try and pick up the ball. Again, they may be more effective against stronger opponents but while other members of the team are stepping up with the goals, the strikers are not impressing so far.
On Wednesday evening, Reading will find out their opponents for the next round of the competition. After Tuesday's performance, the team should be confident of progressing no matter the opposition.
Away Reporter Wanted
09 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
We are looking for an away game match reporter for the new season to continue our coverage of the Royals home and away on our report pages. If you regularly travel to away games and fancy having your reports and opinions published to a wide global audience of Reading FC fans then please get in touch! You would be paid for all reports submitted - although we can't promise much it might help with your travel expenses. If you would like to be part of the longest running Reading FC site on the web please contact us.
Reading 1 Preston 0 - Things We Learned
08 August 2016
By Alex Bower
Reading began their 2016/17 Championship season with a well-earned 1-0 win against Preston North End on Saturday. The goal came in the first half courtesy of a well worked corner routine, with John Swift applying the neat finish into the top corner. In reality the scoreline could have been even greater for Reading, with a number of chances falling their way, but a win is still a win. Here are some of the things to come out of the first of many games for Reading this season.
Eamonn Dolan Commemorated In Style
Saturday's fixture was dedicated to Eamonn Dolan and it was clear from the off how important he was to the club and the supporters. The club planned out a number of ways to commemorate him including the official opening of the Eamonn Dolan Stand, a section of the match programme dedicated to him, a collection around the ground in support of Action Bladder Cancer UK, a pre-match video compilation about his life and career on the big screen, a guard of honour formed by the current academy players and a minute's applause before kick-off.
In reality there were two sets of applause from both home and away fans, with the montage being met by an extended standing ovation and a further minute with the players. It was an emotional day for everyone involved with the club but his family and everyone who knew him could not have asked for a better memorial of a Reading FC legend. The win was just the cherry on top of the cake.
The Thais Are Getting Involved
Behind the scenes, the Thais have been very busy-Facilitating the signing of eight new players and counting so far this season. After getting a fair bit of stick over the last season, largely for the sacking of Brian McDermott, the owners are seemingly doing all they can to set up as strong a Reading team as possible for the season.
On Saturday, Tiger Thanakarnjanasuth went one step further by watching the second half of the game with the fans in Y26. While he may have got more than he bargained for with the antics going on behind him between the security and some Preston and Reading fans, it is nice to see an owner taking an interest in the fans. It is not the first time Tiger has taken such a hands on approach, having held an informal meeting last month with a selection of supporters.
Fans appreciate when they hear what is going on from the people at the top of the Reading hierarchy, so small gestures like this go a long way. Fans will have also appreciated the one-to-one conversations they had with him regarding three potential new signings- a centre-back, wing-back and a striker.
Joey van den Berg May Yet Be Trusted At Centre-Back
To put it bluntly, I was worried when the teams were announced and Joey van den Berg was playing at centre-back. After seeing him play there during training at the open day I was somewhat optimistic that he could be useful there. The game against AFC Bournemouth, however, changed my mind after he seemed to be somewhat of a liability with the temperament to potentially get himself frequently sent off.
His performance against Preston, however, showed that perhaps he could be trusted in defence. Apart from two early tackles and his poor pass to Evans which nearly resulted in a Preston goal, it was an assured performance from van den Berg. He was strong, composed and not afraid to run with the ball out of defence. The concern with the Dutchman will be when Reading play against the bigger teams in the division. Van den Berg is not afraid to go in for the tackle and against speedy strikers this could be his undoing. With the owners admitting that they are still in the market for a centre-back, it would suggest that van den Berg is only filling in for the time being. His first display there, however, was promising.
Beerens & Swift Will Be Key
It is still only early in the season, but one of the most promising partnerships already is Roy Beerens and John Swift. Both are already demonstrating the individual talent they possess and are seemingly working well together on the pitch.
Beerens had the beating of his marker on several occasions against Preston and put in a number of useful crosses throughout the game. He has the skill and pace to be a threat for Reading and subsequently will have an important role to play this season.
Swift, meanwhile, has already shown what he has to offer with his well taken goal. The midfielder was moved to the centre of midfield and provided Reading with a creative edge going forward that they have been lacking. With Swift, Williams and Evans in the centre of midfield, it would appear that Norwood is not being missed just yet.
Strikers Still A Concern
Despite winning the game, the margin will have been a concern. Too often in recent years, fans have seen Reading playing well but going onto lose games late on because they could not convert enough chances. Against Preston, the Royals had fifteen shots on goal with only five on target. Reading played with only one striker and used Deniss Rakels in that role. In the past, playing with one striker has not worked well for the Royals and on this occasion, Rakels often found it difficult to get hold of the ball.
That being said, the striker did have several good shooting opportunities fall his way but went on to either scuff them or shoot straight at the keeper. It is still only game one of the season, but it seems that Rakels is not up to speed yet despite a positive pre-season. Yann Kermorgant came on as a substitute after recently returning to training but Joseph Mendes and Dominic Samuel both remain out through injury.
It is a position that continues to worry fans, with owners admitting that they are still trying to sign another before the window shuts. The Royals could have won the game comfortably by at least a three or four goal margin, but poor finishing let them down. Hopefully standards will improve as the season goes on, with better teams possessing the ability to punish them for such lapses.
Royals Start Season With 1-0 Home Win
06 August 2016
By Alex Bower
"It was very good to watch, that's what we're aiming for. I know you probably can't do that against every team and this is only the start. There is a lot of hard work ahead and we're not there yet- and they've done very well in pre-season."- Reading FC Manager Jaap Stam
"You need confidence and a victory gives you confidence for the next few games. I think we started off well and that's a boost for us. We believe in ourselves and we have to keep on believing. This start will definitely help."- Reading FC Player Joey van den Berg
"We're disappointed but it's a lesson to learn. We knew Reading were going to play high-risk football and if it comes off, it's all well and good. But when we did our job, we got into some good areas."- Preston North End Manager Simon Grayson
Jaap Stam and his Reading side got the new 2016/17 Championship season off to an ideal start on Saturday afternoon. Midfielder John Swift scored on his debut for the club- having signed from Chelsea during the transfer window- and handed Reading a 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium.
Following the departure of Oliver Norwood only a matter of days before the start of the season, Stam's first team choice became all the more interesting. Predictably Ali Al-Habsi started in goal, with Chris Gunter and Jordan Obita as full-backs. Somewhat surprisingly, partnering Paul McShane at centre-back was Joey van den Berg- Who after his chaotic performance against AFC Bournemouth could have been moved forward to cover Norwood's position. Instead George Evans, Danny Williams and John Swift filled the three central midfield positions, with Roy Beerens making his debut out wide with Garath McCleary. Deniss Rakels was subsequently asked to play up top as the sole striker.
After an emotional and perfectly delivered tribute to Eamonn Dolan before kick-off, the game started with Reading on top from the off. Preston's tactic of sitting deep was also immediately clear. McCleary presented the Royals with their first opportunity of the game after just five minutes but his drilled cross could not be turned in by Obita. Throughout the first half, Preston were well off the pace and often could only watch as Reading tried to pass the ball around their two compact lines of four. The away side thought they had the upper hand when Jermaine Beckford applied the finish from close range but the play was pulled back for a Joe Garner handball.
Season Kicks-Off With Preston Visit
04 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Reading kick-off the new 2016/2017 season with a home fixture against Preston North End this weekend. After a very busy summer, the Royals will take to the pitch with a very different side under a very different management team. Jaap Stam will lead Reading out for a competitive fixture for the first time as he begins his senior managerial career at the Madejski Stadium. The first team squad will certainly feature a much changed set of names, and it seems certain that some of the summer's arrivals will make their competitive debuts.
With Stam admitting that he remains unsure what his best team is likely to be, the starting eleven is likely to be difficult to predict. After the Dutch influx of players and management, Reading fans will be expecting a much changed style of football this season. It will be interesting to see how they will adapt to life in the English Championship, and how successful we will be this season. Opinion on how we will fare is widely split again this season, but there is a sense of realism after a couple of disappointing seasons.
Stam is keen to set expectations, and urged all involved to be patient: "If you look at the league, there are teams in there who will make it hard to be in the top ten. You can't expect us to end up in the top six." Mid-table would be more than acceptable in Stam's first season - if he is given that long. With the Thai owners obviously continual high expectations, we will all be hoping that Stam can steady the ship to prevent another mass exodus of players and management that would set us back another season or two.
It remains hugely disappointing that former manager Brian McDermott was treated so badly on his return to the club, but stability is more important than ever this season, and everyone will be behind Stam. Saturday's game takes on extra importance as it is followed with a really tough start to the new campaign that includes trips to Wolves and Newcastle. Points will be needed on Saturday or we could find ourselves starting the season at the foot of the table with an instant uphill battle required.
Preston finished the season in 11th place last season, six places above the Royals, and will also be hoping for better things this season. However, no-one finished the season as badly as Reading as we stumbled over the finishing line with just a single point from our last seven games. Apart from the first few months of the season, the whole thing was a write off, whoever was in charge. Hopefully the dramatic changes can finally change the downwards trend at the club and inject some much needed excitement.
Graphics supplied by KickOff.
Norwood Completes Brighton Move
04 August 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Oliver Norwood has confirmed his move to Championship side Brighton. Norwood joins Brighton after a successful European Championships with Northern Ireland, and leaves Reading after two decent seasons with us. Norwood signed from Huddersfield in the summer of 2014 and went on to make 92 appearances for the Royals scoring 5 goals. He has signed a three year contract with his new club, and Brighton are rumoured to have paid out 1.5 million for a player who had one year left on his contract with Reading.
It's a disappointment to lose Norwood, who on his day was a match winner with his balls into the area. It seems an odd move for the player as well - the move could be described as "sideways" at the very best. Following on from others released or sold, Norwood is another player moving on who has been a big part of the club in recent seasons. It's all change at Reading Football Club.