Reading Football Club News: February 2022

Royals Hold Out For Another Win

22 February 2022
By Hob Nob Anyone?

On Saturday Paul Ince joked that Reading had 'played like Barcelona' in the first half at Deepdale. Last night, after a first half performance which was more akin to Barnsley than Barca, Lucas Joao set Reading on course for a crucial home win with a goal which would not have looked out of place at the Camp Nou. With City defenders closing in on him just outside the box, Joao made room for a strike on goal and curled the ball just inside the upright as Etheridge came off his line. It was in every respect an outstanding finish. Awareness, touch, composure and laser like accuracy, it had the lot. Six minutes later, Reading increased their lead. Tom Ince slipped a perfectly weighted pass through City's defence to put Yiadom clean through on goal. His progress was ended abruptly by a clumsy challenge earning Hernandez a yellow card and crucially, a penalty for Reading. Swift composed himself before lashing the spot kick into the roof of the net.

There was little evidence of new manger 'bounce' in the first half of Paul Ince's first game in charge. In fact Reading looked unusually uncomfortable in possession and lacking a cutting edge in attack. Hein and Etheridge had little to do before half time. Ince squandered the best chance just before the interval when he swung his weaker right foot at Hoilett's excellent ball to the far post sending the ball high and wide. A composed side footed-strike would probably have given his Dad the start he desired. However he more than made up for his profligacy with a dogged and committed performance and his part in the second goal.

Pauno Goes Out With A Win - Ince Takes Charge

19 February 2022
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading FC have confirmed the departure of manager Veljko Paunovic, shortly after he guided his team to a vital 3-2 away victory at Preston this afternoon. Pauno signs off from a mixed time at Reading with four points from six games that gives his side hope in the battle against relegation. The club made it clear the decision was made before today's win by issuing an announcement shortly after full time that also confirmed Paul Ince is taking over on a temporary basis.

History will see Pauno as a manager that made a hugely positive start as manager after arriving in the summer of 2020. His side raced to the top of the Championship table as they started the season with 7 wins from 8 games. Over the season the Royals faded before eventually finishing just outside the play-offs. The 2021/2022 season has seen Reading plagued with difficulties including a transfer embargo, a points deduction and major injury issues. It would have been a difficult time for any manager but Paunovic lost the faith of the supporters after a run of 8 straight defeats as players began to return from injury.

Paul Ince feels a strange appointment and arrives with his son at the club on loan. Ince was last in management eight years ago at Blackpool after spending less than a year at the club, winning just 12 games out of 42. His time at Blackpool also included a five match stadium ban due to violent conduct. Academy Manager, and Reading legend Michael Gilkes will assist Ince and the duo will lead the first time while the club search for a permanent manager.

The official club statement wishes Paunovic well thanks him for his "commitment and dedication to our club... also his professionalism throughout what have been undeniably challenging circumstances this season.". That statement feels genuine enough with Paunovic clearly a very decent guy who struggled this season. It was a shame it turned personal towards the end and Paunovic also deserves further credit for leading Reading to a win in his final match when he must have known he was set to depart. Hopefully all Reading fans wish his very well with his next managerial appointment.

Peterborough Away - A Defeat Means Relegation

16 February 2022
By Hob Nob Anyone?

If there was ever a "six pointer" it's tonight's Championship visit to Peterborough United. Reading must avoid a ninth consecutive defeat in all competitions to keep hopes of avoiding relegation alive. A defeat tonight would see Reading drop into the bottom three, behind Peterborough who would move a point clear of the Royals with a game in hand.

Although there is plenty of the season remaining, it is no exageration to say that if Reading lose tonight they will be likely relegated at the end of this season. Given our current form, and the chaos surrounding the club, a defeat tonight will feel like we have finally thrown in the towel on Championship football. Unfortunately it is difficult to see a Reading win coming and Peterborough are firm favourites for victory in the match that is being screened live on Sky Sports this evening.

Reading were entertaining on Saturday in front of over 22,000 fans at the Madejski Stadium, despite eventually being reduced to 10 men and losing 2-3 to Coventry City. The defeat was enough to cause a handful of fans to spill on the pitch at full time. Since then rumours have continued to circulate that Paunovic is set to be sacked, but he remains in charge for tonight's game knowing that a win is essential to prevent a large escalation of what, so far, has been very small scale protests.

Hoilett's red card was a set-back on Saturday but there was at least one positive with the return of a strong and fast looking Yakou Meite. Hopefully Meite is ready for a bigger impact tonight along with Joao up front.

Earlier this season Reading were 3-1 home winners against Peterborough. John Swift scored Reading's first and Dele-Bashiru scored twice as Reading moved up to 15th in the table. Back then Peterborough were 23rd in the table after seven games and they have spent most of the season in the bottom three. Reading are obviously bottom of the form table, but Peterborough are the second worst team in the form table. It should be an interesting night for the two teams that are, on current form, the worst two teams in the Championship.

Big Crowd, Decent Entertainment But More Disappointment

12 February 2022
By Hob Nob Anyone?

A crowd of over 20,000 fans turned up at the Select Car Leasing Stadium for the first time since under that name, to celebrate the 150 years of football at Reading FC. The atmosphere inside the ground was a throwback to more successful times for the club. Unfortunately, in spite of a spirited performance, The Royals party was ruined by Coventry City and some unfortunate twists in a game from which Reading deserved at least a point. A disappointing and frustrating day was capped by unpleasant scenes at the final whistle as a handful of disgruntled Reading fans invaded the pitch to vent their feeling towards manager Veljko Paunovic. Many Reading fans will be feeling upset, frustrated and angry about their teams abysmal current run of seven consecutive defeats but invading the pitch will not be helping the player's morale, especially those who cared enough to take a lap of the pitch to thank the fans for their support.

150 Year Celebration Game Unlikely To Be A Party

11 February 2022
By Hob Nob Anyone?

It's all been kicking off ahead of the visit of Coventry City this Saturday afternoon. The game is the rearranged 150th birthday celebration game, however it doesn't feel much like a celebration with Reading now looking set for relegation to League One. Positivity is hard to be found within the club and it's supporters with the club locked into a downward spiral. Ahead of the match there is set to a protest of sorts before kick-off although it remains to be seen how many will take part with a real feel of apathy hanging over the club. It's a shame that this match can't be used to get behind the team and celebrate our long history, but the lack of positivity is understandable.

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic looks set to be targeted at the game, with the owners remaining insistant on retaining his services. His contract is due to expire at the end of the season and the club seem set to honour that contract to avoid a substantial pay-off with the club in financial difficulties. Paunovic has had a very difficult job this season with an insane number of injuries, a points deduction, and restrictions in the transfer market but it is hard now to look past a run of seven straight defeats. With Paunovic remaining in his job attention has also turned to the club owners who are trying to deflect away from the current situation with an "open letter" and now an offer to randomly give up to 20 home supporters one thousand pounds just for turning up on Saturday. It is an unusual gesture to try and win support.

The open letter appears desperate to try and avoid any kind of protest: "We are in a fight and we need to fight together. To do that, we need you... And win, lose or draw, all we ask is that you get behind the team and give us the best chance of success on Saturday and for the remaining 16 games that follow!" Of course it is difficult to provide that kind of support when the club are sleep walking into League One.

The game itself feels like another where we will struggle to pick up any points, although Reading are now favourites to lose every game home or away. Coventry are thoroughly mid-table for both form and overall position, although a win at Reading would be handy in keeping them in with a good shout of the play-offs. Reading are of course on the brink of the bottom three and a massive 10 points behind 20th placed Cardiff City.

Previous Meetings With Coventry City

21 August 2021 Coventry (Away) Championship L: 1-2 Report...
19 January 2021 Coventry (HOME) Championship W: 3-0 Report...
30 October 2020 Coventry (Away) Championship L: 2-3 Report...
11 February 2012 Coventry (HOME) Championship W: 2-0 Report...
24 September 2011 Coventry (Away) Championship D: 1-1 Report...
30 April 2011 Coventry (Away) Championship D: 0-0 Report...
11 December 2010 Coventry (HOME) Championship D: 0-0 Report...
05 April 2010 Coventry (HOME) Championship W: 3-0 Report...
31 October 2009 Coventry (Away) Championship W: 3-1 Report...
04 April 2009 Coventry (Away) Championship D: 0-0 Report...
01 December 2008 Coventry (HOME) Championship W: 3-1 Report...
14 January 2006 Coventry (HOME) Championship W: 2-0 Report...
10 September 2005 Coventry (Away) Championship D: 1-1 Report...
19 February 2005 Coventry (HOME) Championship L: 1-2 Report...
30 October 2004 Coventry (Away) Championship L: 2-3 Report...
27 March 2004 Coventry (Away) Division 1 W: 2-1 Report...
20 September 2003 Coventry (HOME) Division 1 L: 1-2 Report...
26 December 2002 Coventry (Away) Division 1 L: 0-2 Report...
17 August 2002 Coventry (HOME) Division 1 L: 1-2 Report...

How are Reading’s squad looking after the January transfer window?

10 February 2022
By Hob Nob Anyone?

There are two transfer windows in the English football leagues which give clubs the opportunity to add players to their squad and release others. It's always an exciting period in the footballing calendar as fans see who management can secure that will strengthen their side and hopefully culminate in better results.

The current transfer system was introduced in 2002- before that teams could transfer freely right up until the end of March. Nowadays, English clubs have a pre-season window which runs from June 9 to August 31 and a mid-season window running from January 1 to January 31. The January transfer window can herald a change of fortune for clubs that have been underperforming in the first half of the season- a club, few would argue, like Reading FC.

The transfer periods can have a marked impact on a team's performance and odds for betting on matches will reflect this. A star signing that slots into the team's system can improve the odds at betting sites, for example, of a team avoiding relegation.

Reading's performance so far

Reading have had a testing start to the 2021-22 season and currently teeter on the brink of the relegation zone after 29 games played. 22nd position Peterborough United trail the Royals by only two points and also have a game in hand. To add to the tension, Cardiff City who are one place above are a full ten points clear- so Reading are truly engaged in a battle to avoid becoming a League One side next season.

The problems the club are facing are not solely a result of the performance on the pitch. Reading were handed a six point deduction for being found in breach of financial regulations caused by overspending. They may also have to endure a further six-point penalty next season.

Being faced with these hardships, you might think it would be difficult to attract new talent to the club, struggling to tread water but the January window did see some movement in both directions.

Signings and departures in the January transfer window

Keeper Rafael Cabral's contract was terminated on January 17 by mutual consent as the Brazilian returned to Cruzeiro in his motherland after nine years in Europe. Teenage goalkeeper Karl Hein arrived from Arsenal to fill the spot as number two behind Luke Southwood, and midfielder Tom Ince joined the Royals from Stoke City. Both come to the club on loan until the end of their 21-22 campaign.

Reading defender Luke Moore made a departure from the club to swap places with Ince at rivals Stoke. The news was announced after the transfer deadline but the paperwork was completed in time.

Andy Carroll's two-month contract with the club came to a close as West Brom snapped him up before the January 31 deadline. While Carroll wasn't prolific at the club his absence has already been felt, especially in the final thirds of important fixtures.

Striker George Puscas was announced to be heading to Italian side Pisa for the remainder of the season. It is likely not many will be sad to see the back of the largely underwhelming Romanian Forward who joined Reading for a record transfer of €8 million euros plus €2 million in bonuses from Inter Milan. Puscas has managed to score only 20 goals from his 91 appearances.

However, coach Veljko Paunovi? has been adopting a two up front system and losing a striker of any sort leaves the squad imbalanced up front. A lot of fans believe there was simply not enough transfer business conducted during the mid-season window at a crucial time for the club.

In line with FIFA regulations, free agents can be signed by a club at any time of the year- even outside transfer windows- if they were already released by their previous club before the deadline. Hope hangs on to the possibility that Reading can acquire some free agents in the coming months now that the club's amended wage bill will allow for it.

The remainder of the season

So how does the remaining season see Reading fare? Thankfully Derby's run of blistering form seems to have petered out, since the Rams looked like they would drive clear of the relegation zone following an agonising 21-point deduction. They've won only one of their last five fixtures but are still steadily accruing points.

The last five games for Paunovi?'s side have not done anything to encourage fans, failing to pick up a single point from any of them, including throwing away some leads held right up to stoppage time. Reading have upcoming matches against several mid table sides where they will look to salvage what they can but the six pointer as it stands is the February 16 tie against Peterborough United where only three points will do.

Relegation would bring uncertainty in spades for the future of the club. Funding from the owner would hang in the balance and the support of the Category 1 academy, that the first team relies heavily upon, would be open to speculation. Moods at the MadStad are still subdued and weary as the rot shows no signs of subsiding.

Ince In, Moore And Puscas Out

01 February 2022
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading secured the loan signing of forward player Tom Ince from Stoke City on transfer deadline day, who joins the Royals until the end of the season. Meanwhile out of favour Liam Moore, goes in the opposite direction to Stoke and will be unlikely to feature for Reading again. The day also saw George Puscas join Italian Serie B team Pisa on loan for the rest of the season. With Puscas out on loan and Andy Carroll joining West Bromwich Albion in January after his short term contract with Reading, the Royals were in desperate need for a striker. Ince can play either up front or out wide and will join a side desperate for goals to save them from what is looking likely to be a drop into League One at the end of this season.

Ince has scored five goals for Stoke so far this season but has seen his season mixed between first team starts and time spent on the bench. Thirty year old Ince comes to Reading hoping to go straight into the starting eleven. Stoke paid a massive ten million pounds for Ince in 2018 and he has had mixed success. Last season Ince was restricted to 14 appearances over the season, half on loan at Luton Town, without a goal. In the 2019/2020 season Ince clocked up 40 appearances and scored 3 times. Reading will be hoping Lucas Joao can stay fit and find new support from Ince.