Reading Football Club News: August 2017

First League Win As Royals Beat Villa

16 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The Royals chalked up their first Championship victory of the season against an expensively assembled experienced and talented Villa side with a dominant performance which was not reflected in the scoreline. Reading scored twice in the space of six minutes early in the second half and looked to be cruising comfortably to a deserved win until the visitors pulled a goal back four minutes from time through Houirihane. It was an anxious final few minutes for the home fans but anything other than a Reading victory would have been a travesty.
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Reading And Villa Look For First League Win

15 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The Royals face Aston Villa at the Madejski Stadium tonight in a fixture that features two sides off to a slow start in the Championship. Both sides have picked up just a single league point from two fixtures and will be looking for a first league win of the new season. Aston Villa kicked-off with a 1-1 home draw against Hull before a 0-3 away defeat against Cardiff City at the weekend. Reading really should have picked up three points against Fulham on Saturday after leading against a Fulham side that played nearly the entire game with 10 men.

Liam Kelly's goal wasn't enough to defeat Fulham and Reading will need to have much more urgency and willingness to get into the opposition box if they are going to defeat Villa. Liam Kelly has scored all three of Reading's goals so far this season and with question marks over our performances so far this season will surely be first on the teamsheet tonight.

Another name certain to be one of the main talking points this evening is former Villa player Leandro Bacuna who signed for Reading two days ago. Bacuna will be elligible to play tonight. Unless the clubs have reached some kind of agreement, he could find himself making his Reading debut against the side he played for on the opening day of the season.

With little changed on on the injury list from the weekend, there are unlikely to be big changes to Jaap Stam's squad this evening. Hopefully Jaap has some ideas of how to convert possession into goals this evening or the slow start may continue.

Prior to last April's 3-1 away win against Villa, when Mendes scored two goals and Grabban grabbed the other from the penalty spot, we had lost six consecutive games against them. One of those defeats was last season's 1-2 reverse at the Madejski Stadium when Kermorgant's equaliser wasn't enough for a point when Villa won with a last minute penalty. Following the Fulham game three days ago, that kind of defeat would be hard to take this evening. Improvement is definately required this evening.

Recent Meetings With ASTON VILLA

DATE COMPETITION OPPOSITION SCORE REPORT
15 April 2017 Championship Aston Villa (Away) W: 3-1 Read report...
18 October 2016 Championship Aston Villa (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
09 March 2013 Premier League Aston Villa (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
27 November 2012 Premier League Aston Villa (Away) L: 0-1 Read report...
07 March 2010 FA Cup Aston Villa (HOME) L: 2-4 Read report...
24 February 2008 Premiership Aston Villa (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
12 January 2008 Premiership Aston Villa (Away) L: 1-3 Read report...
10 February 2007 Premiership Aston Villa (HOME) W: 2-0 Read report...
23 August 2006 Premiership Aston Villa (Away) L: 1-2 Read report...

Leandro Bacuna Signs From Aston Villa

13 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Leandro Bacuna has completed his move to Reading from Aston Villa, signing a four new contract with the Royals. The midfielder completes his transfer just days ahead of Villa's visit to the Madejski Stadium for their Tuesday night Championship clash. Bacuna played the first 70 minutes of Villa's opening fixture against Hull City but hasn't appeared since after transfer talk gathered pace.

Bacuna began his career with Dutch side FC Groningen, where he made over 100 appearances before a three million pound move to Aston Villa in the summer of 2013. After four years with Villa he made 131 appearances, scoring 8 goals. He was a regular for Villa during three Premier League seasons before their relegation to the Championship and is still just 25 years old.

Bacuna, primarily a midfielder, is a versitile player who could step into the side in midfield, defence or on the wing. He has previously played at right back and maybe used as cover for Chris Gunter. Bacuna appears well known to Reading boss Jaap Stam: "Leandro is a player that we have been following for a while - he has played Premier League football and brings quality to us. He is the type of player who can play in several positions in the team - in midfield, at the back, or even sometimes as a winger. He is a player with the right mentality and who wants to go forward; these are the types of players that we want to have."

Reading's Summer Signings:

  • Leandro Bacuna (Aston Villa)
  • Modou Barrow (Swansea)
  • Vito Mannone (Sunderland)
  • Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Wolves)
  • Pelle Clement (Ajax)

Royals Fail To Beat Ten Man Fulham - Things We Learned

13 August 2017
By Alex Bower

Reading faced their first home test of the 2017/18 season on Saturday as they took on Fulham. The Royals were subjected to an away defeat against QPR last weekend and would have wanted to come away from their opening home league fixture with all three points.

Only 39 seconds into the game, Tomas Kalas saw red for Fulham for a tackle on Modou Barrow. It took Reading over an hour to make the breakthrough, with Liam Kelly scoring his third goal in two games. An error from Joey van den Berg was all that was required for Fulham to get back into the game, with Lucas Piazon slotting the ball past Vito Mannone. Here are some of the things to come out of the game.

Scared To Shoot?
The seemingly never-ending striker discussion reared its ugly head once more as Reading dominated the game and failed to make a breakthrough on more than one occasion. Sound familiar? The Royals, in general, are pretty good at maintaining possession. Unfortunately, they are still struggling in the final third. Despite having several members of the squad who are capable of running at defences, Reading often insisted upon passing it amongst themselves until a gap opened up in the Fulham ranks. The only issue was that the gaps were almost non-existent.

Injuries to Yann Kermorgant, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Garath McCleary and co were already concerns and subsequently it was left to Joseph Mendes to lead the line. The Frenchman was pretty good when it came to holding the ball up but when it came to his end product, let's just say his acrobatic finishing leaves much to be desired. Liam Kelly's goal demonstrated what he is capable of, but many of his teammates often seemed scared in front of goal - in particular John Swift. When the opportunity to shoot presented itself, many preferred to pass on the baton rather than go for glory.

While a striker continues to be the required addition, it is time for the midfielders to also start shouldering the blame when it comes to a lack of action in front of goal.

Barrow - One To Watch
One of the players that particularly stood out was Modou Barrow. The new signing brought in from Swansea looked pacey, threatening going forwards and a hard worker without the ball. When Fulham countered, it was often Barrow sprinting back to help out in defence. His final delivery was at times lacking but the early signs were definitely promising. It will be interesting to see what system Jaap Stam will play once the likes of Garath McCleary and Roy Beerens are fit again. The good thing is that when they are, Reading will have options. If Barrow's performance on Saturday is anything to go on, there may also be competition in the ranks. Competition is good.

Super Mannone
Another that impressed me was Vito Mannone. Despite having little to do for the majority of the game, his decisive catches, confidence with the ball at his feet and fingertip save from an Oliver Norwood strike were standout moments. Unfortunately the back pass from Joey van den Berg and the last ditch tackle from Chris Gunter left him in a tough one-on-one with Piazon for the goal. While the departure of Ali Al-Habsi was not ideal, his replacement already seems have the potential to be as good if not better for the Royals. His moment of miscommunication with Paul McShane shows, however, that there is still plenty of things for him to work on.

Transfer Targets
With Leandro Bacuna set to join sooner rather than later and Jaap Stam's comments about their search for a striker, it is clear Reading are still very much active in the transfer market.

When your main goalscorer from last season is injured, as is your new striker, the fans are inevitably going to continue piling on the pressure when it comes to transfers. Joseph Mendes did a pretty good job against Fulham considering how deep they set themselves up, but the number of crosses that were headed out by the Fulham defence showed what Reading seem to be missing at the moment.

Saturday's game also showed that Reading also seem to still have a Danny Williams shaped hole in midfield. At times the American lost his head but he was a box-to-box midfielder that was not afraid to pressure opponents and run at defences (albeit with his head down too many times). The signing of Pelle Clement and the return of Stephen Quinn means that Reading have more options in midfield, but I hope that Stam is looking for more than just a striker in the current window.

Fortress Madejski
Last season it was Reading's home form that aided their push for promotion. Despite dropping two points against Fulham, the Royals went thirteen games unbeaten at the Madejski on Saturday. That is their longest unbeaten home run in over eleven years.

If Reading are to push for promotion once more, maintaining their home form will be an important aim for the season.

Aston Villa Up Next
After picking up just one point from six, Reading's attention now turns to Aston Villa on Tuesday. Villa have also only earned one point so far, having lost to Cardiff City at the weekend.

It will be another tough test for the Royals, but one that they are capable of winning. Reading will have to be more positive going forwards, however, and use the pace that the likes of Modou Barrow and Adrian Popa possess in order to make the breakthrough. Going three games without a win, especially when two of them are at home, will not be the ideal way to start a season many will hope ends in promotion.

Modou Barrow Confirmed As Fourth Summer Signing

03 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading have completed the signing of Swansea winger Modou Barrow for 1.5 million pounds. Barrow, who is Reading's fourth signing of the summer, spent three seasons with the Premier League side after joining them from FK Ostersunds in Sweden for the same value.

His debut for Swansea, in November 2014, was a memorable 2-1 home victory against Arsenal. The Gunners were a goal up with 67 minutes on the click when Barrow came off the bench. Swansea went on to score two late goals to claim the victory.

The Royals have been rumoured to be chasing the player for some time and had to go back with an increased bid after initial offers were rejected.

Barrow spent most of his Swansea career on the bench and had 21 starts for the club with a further 34 appearances as a substitute. His last start for the Swans was back in December 2016 - a 0-3 defeat at Middlesbrough. He scored two goals during his time at Swansea and also had loan spells at Nottingham Forest, Blackburn and, most recently at Leeds United. After losing his place in the Swansea team he headed out on loan at the turn of the year and made five appearances for Leeds.

Reading Head To QPR As New Season Starts

03 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The new Championship season kicks off this weeekend with Reading travelling to QPR for their first game of the new campaign. QPR finished just two points away from relegation last season and will be hoping for a dramatic improvement this season. With financial difficulties and fines hanging over them due to past excessive spending, it has also been a quiet pre-season for QPR. A few players have departed the club with midfielder Josh Scowen joining from Barnsley on a free transfer. The club recently extended the contract of former Reading loan player Jamie Mackie who will hope to feature more consistently this season.

Although Reading and QPR finished at opposite ends of the table, the Royals were only able to collect a point from the two Championship fixtures last season. A 1-1 draw, with the now-departed Danny Williams scoring for the Royals, in October was followed up by a very disappointing 0-1 home defeat in January. A draw appears to be the favourite prediction and wouldn't be a bad return on day one of the new season.

Jaap Stam's choice of starting eleven will be interesting to see. One player who is certain to get his competitive debut is goalkeeper Vito Mannone who signed from Sunderland to replace the departing Ali Al Habsi. Outfield the team is unlikely to be dramatically different to how we finished the last campaign. With injuries up front there is a chance of one of the academy graduates getting a competitive debut, even if only from the bench. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson took a knock in a pre-season friendly but may appear, however Kermorgant is still recovering from injury. Moore and Swift, who both signed new extended contract this week, will start in defence and midfield and find the team built around them. Paul McShane is ruled out as he completes his suspension, while Pelle Clement will be hoping for his Reading debut after joining from Ajax in the summer.

Despite the lack of incoming transfer activity at Reading, fan expectation is certainly much higher than last season. This time a year ago a popular prediction was a mid-table season. The Royals went on to surprise everyone with a third place finish and end up just a few penalty kicks away from promotion back to the Premier League. History has seen Reading follow up play-off disappointment with automatic promotion the following season, and maybe that has driven people to predict promotion in the 2017/2018 season.

A Hob Nob Anyone poll has nearly half of voters predicting promotion either automatically or through the play-offs, although the most popular category is a 7th to 12th placed finish. It's hard to see past another season of Reading "just missing out", whether that means a mid-table finish or more play-off disappointment. Automatic promotion is surely too big an ask with several teams spending big in the Championship and expecting to finish in the top two.

Four Cans Of Carabao For Moore

02 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading have rewarded central defender Liam Moore for his fantastic defensive performances last season with a new four year deal to stay at the club. Moore's contract extension follows on from John Swift who signed a five year contract earlier this week. The club are keen to secure key players on extended contracts after a pre-season that has seen limited success in the transfer market.

Both Moore and Swift are clearly, and rightly, seen as key players in future seasons, and so the club have tied them down on long deals. Manager Jaap Stam spoke highly of Moore as he put pen to paper: "As a club, we want to make progress and you need to keep players like Liam within your squad and build your team around those players. So I'm delighted he's signed a new deal"

After Swift's five cans of Carabao for his contract pictures, Moore had to make do with just the four, but will be obviously pleased to get a better deal when he already had three years left on his contract at Reading. The new deal will see him either remain a Reading player until the summer of 2021 or leave the club for a decent transfer fee.

Moore has only been a Reading player for a season so has done well to so quickly be seen as such a vital member of the squad. His first season after arriving from Premier League side Leicester City saw him play in the vast majority of fixtures and he already has 47 appearances and a league goal from his Reading career to date.

Royals Try To Hang On To Swift

01 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

John Swift has signed a massive five year contract with Reading FC as the club look to either keep hold of the player long term or at least cash in should he move on in the future. There has been huge hype surrounding John Swift as he has played through the England youth ranks and attracted plenty of media interest. He has already played 13 times for the England Under 21 side and remains a big player for the future. Swift, with 42 appearances for Reading and 9 goals so far, had an amazing start to last season, and although his form dipped, he should be set to be a key player for the Royals this term.

Before signing his new contract he, Swift scored from the spot during Reading's 2-3 friendly defeat against Dutch top tier side Vitesse on Saturday. The Royals found themselves three goals down before Swift and Adrian Popa scored to make the scoreline respectable. Although the result may well be meaningless it was a disappointing match for Reading with van den Berg and new signing Bodvarsson both picking up injuries. The good news was all three news signings featured in the match with Vito Mannone in goal and Pelle Clement and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson picking up some game time. With Kermorgant recovering from injury and Bodvarsson joining him on that list, attention will pass to youngsters Sam Smith and Danny Loader who are hoping to get involved with the first team this season. With the injuries mounting, and a lack of new signings, they have a real opportunity to make the switch from the Academy ranks.

Meanwhile, as Jaap Stam still hopes to bring more players through the door in August, the squad has shrunk further. Jake Cooper confirmed his move to Millwall after a loan spell there last season. Cooper's move is permanent, but fellow defender Rob Dickie leaves the club on loan as he joins Lincoln City until January 2018.

Stam's squad for the new season still appears to be work in progress as rumours have come and done with limited incoming activity. Time is running short as the new season kick-offs this weekend with a trip to QPR.

Players In So Far:

  • Vito Mannone (Sunderland)
  • Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Wolves)
  • Pelle Clement (Ajax)

Players Out So Far:

  • Jake Cooper (Millwall)
  • Dominic Samuel (Blackburn Rovers)
  • Ali Al Habsi (Al-Hilal)
  • Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town)
  • Niall Keown (Partick Thistle)
  • Zak Jules (Shrewsbury Town)
  • Jack Stacey (Luton Town)
  • Tariqe Fosu (Charlton Athletic)
  • Craig Tanner (Motherwell)
  • Sean Long (Lincoln City)
  • Dominic Hyam (Coventry City)
  • Aaron Kuhl (Out of contract)
  • Stuart Moore (Out of contract)
  • Harrison Bennett (Out of contract)
  • Joe Tupper (Out of contract)
  • Terence Vancooten (Out of contract)
  • Jack Denton (Out of contract)
  • Harry Cardwell (Out of contract)

Players Out On Loan So Far:

  • Rob Dickie (loan to Lincoln City)
  • Danzell Gravenberch (loan to KSV Roeselare)
  • Andrija Novakovich (loan to Telstar)
  • Jonathan Bond (loan to Peterborough)
  • Deniss Rakels (loan to Lech Poznan)