Can Reading FC avoid the drop?

September 4, 2012 6:00 pm

Most pundits have anticipated just a one season return to the premier league for Reading FC. One of those pundits is the much-loathed,  semi-professional dancer, Robbie Savage who has been invading our TV screens far too much recently.  Why the BBC have given him so much exposure is beyond me considering he has about as much knowledge as a Ginsters steak slice.
Back to the main business of Reading FC, who will have to prove the bookmakers wrong if they are to stay in the promised land- WilliamHill have made them clear favourites for relegation offering even odds on that bet. Remember though, Reading shamed the bookmakers last season with their surprising rise to the peak of the championship, so who says they can’t do it again? Here are a few reasons why the Berkshire Club might surpass all expectations:


Brian Mcdermott- The Uncle Fester lookalike has certainly got the tactical orientation to feel right at home in the premier league. He runs a solid defensive unit playing two deep-set midfielders that will look to break up the play and mobilise the counter attacking strengths of the wingers. In a tough league such as the prem, this mentality is ideal especially for a team that will, more often than not, enter a fixture as the underdogs. Some of these strategic choices must be credited to assistant manager, Nigel Gibbs who specializes in defensive discipline and shape. Brian Mcdermott, on the other hand, is a top quality man-manger. An attribute, no doubt, picked up during his time under the Steve Copell regime, where he was a chief scout. In fact, there are quite a few parallels in the way the two men approach the game. They are both quite humble people, focusing on building up individual relationships with their players, rather then oppressively commanding them, like for instance Alex Ferguson or Villas Boas who, on the whole, keep their distance from players.

Pavel Pogrebmyak- The 200lb Russian was the big summer signing for Reading and was no doubt coerced by fellow countryman and newly appointed chairman, Anton Zingarevich. Pleased as I was that we had made a signing with such an impeccable prem record, there is reason to be skeptical about the big man. He may have scored a goal every other game for Fulham, looking supremely at ease with the pace of the prem, but he only played 12 games for the south London club so he is a slight gamble, for me. However, he came as a free transfer so there is nothing to lose for Mcdermott. There is also a tendency to play route one football when there is such a big target man like Pogrebnyak. This tactic is probably best used as a plan B or C rather than a plan A, because it gets very predictable at this level. Nevertheless, I can see a beastly partnership in the making if Mcdermott decides to pick Jason Roberts alongside Pavel.
Mikele ‘Legs-of-Wood’ Leigertwood- May not be everyone’s conception of a ‘pivotal’ player but on his day, the dopey looking Antiguan is a real spoiler in that midfield area. Presumably, he will play alongside Jem Karacan (when he is fit) who runs himself into the ground week in week out; the combination of the two should make Reading into a very difficult team to break down. 
Adam Federici-An in-form goalkeeper is essential to any team bidding to avoid relegation and Reading have exactly that in Fedders. The superb Aussie was arguably the best keeper outside the premier league last season and we all hope he will continue in this vein of form. He has however, just fucked it up against Stoke and so I am starting to question his nerves. He will be alright! Give him a game to nestle in AYE!?
Kaspars Gorks and Alex Pearce- These two were resoundingly solid last season helping Reading keep 20 clean sheets, the best record in the league. The partnership seems set to continue despite the recent arrival of Adrian Mariappa from Watford. This was the obvious choice for Mcdermott, considering the clear positives of keeping the core of the team in tact, especially after a championship winning season. Norwich last season confirmed this as they achieved a 12th place position with much the same team as the previous season.

Ian Harte- His free-kicks are an invaluable part of Reading’s attacking outfit, as 26 goals in two seasons may testify to. He might not be bombing up and down the left wing as much as he did in his heyday for Leeds but considering Reading might well struggle for goals this season, his left-foot whippage will surely be a massive asset to his club this season.

All in all, Reading have a lot to get excited about with the astute signings of Pavel Pogrebnyak, Nathan Mclearly, Nicky Shorey, Chris Gunter and Danny Guthrie. They certainly have strength in depth, which is crucial as injuries and suspensions can easily tarnish a good season. The tendency might have been to buy big this summer considering the cash injection promised by Zingaravich but, in my view, this can upset an already thriving dressing room atmosphere. Mcdermott has therefore done well in staying patient and keeping the core of the team in place but the question is, have we got enough quality to avoid relegation? I think Reading will struggle this season. They do not have the brand of football that seems to be in place at the continental looking Swansea or Wigan. They need to battle hard and work effectively as a defensive unit if they are to achieve their long term ambitions.

Final Prediction- 16th.
%d bloggers like this: