‘Where do I start?!’ – An expert view on what’s gone wrong at Reading this season ahead of Nottingham Forest clash


What has gone wrong for Reading this season?

Where do I start?! A failure to land a goalscorer? Teams now sussing Reading out? Injuries to key players? Individual errors?

It’s been a combination of all of them really which means Reading are yet to get going this season.

Performances have been below average too for the most part, with a lack of a cutting edge apparent in the majority of games.

Reading did not sign an out-and-out goalscorer in the window, but it was hoped the likes of Sone Aluko and Mo Barrow would chip in with a fair few instead, along with the likes of Garath McCleary and Roy Beerens.

It’s not materialised, however, and with Yann Kermorgant (19 goals last season) only returning from injury at the weekend, they have been lacking in front of goal.

Reading’s Garath McCleary battles Norwich City’s Christoph Zimmermann

Other injuries to key players have not helped Jaap Stam’s cause.

First choice left-back Jordan Obita is out for the season with a knee injury while a fair few of the players have picked up niggles, causing them to miss several games here and there.

Reading’s Jordan Obita

It’s meant a lack of consistency which has showed in the performances, as well as players playing out of position.

Many of the squad were there last year but are yet to hit the heights of last season so they are going to have to start hitting form soon if they want to make the top half come the end of the season.

Is it a genuine play-off hangover?

It’s hard to say how much of it is down to losing last season’s play-off final.

It was clearly a major event and one which would have taken a while to get over.

But judging by the mood in pre-season it can’t be used as an excuse for this term.

What it did do, though, is raise expectations among fans with many hoping for a similar feat this year.

The Reading players are dejected after losing a penalty shootout in last season’s play-off final against Huddersfield

To get to within a few kicks of the Premier League shows how far they were to getting there.

Stam has been keen to downplay expectations, but a top-six finish was the aim but it’s more about a top-half finish now at best this season.

One win in nine games?

It was a great win – 1-0 at Leeds – and one which reminded me of last season. Being organised, solid at the back and clinical up top.

It was hoped this would be a turning point in the season but they were quickly bought back down to earth at Sheffield United.

They played poorly at home to Bristol City and Norwich City and individual mistakes cost them at Millwall. The Boro defeat on Saturday was deserved, despite a bright start.

Jaap Stam led Reading to the play-offs final last season

Could Forest be the game to turn it around?

Reading will hope so, they were very good at home last year but have been poor so far this season.

Derby away on Saturday will be tricky so this is a real chance to get a result.

It depends how they handle the pressure, however, and if they do go a goal down, it could be a long way back, as shown on Saturday.

Who should Forest keep an eye on?

John Swift is coming back into form after injury.

He is a very skilful and creative player and likes to get forward.

Liam Moore at centre-back has been a shining light for Royals this season, he’s not afraid to put his body on the line.

Barrow and Aluko are both tricky, pacy attacking players who can cause trouble on their day.

And Kermorgant, if playing. He is good on the air, on the ball and can produce a deadly set-piece.

John Swift in action for Reading this season

What of former Reds Chris Gunter and Garath McCleary?

Gunter has been rather poor this season. He has played in all the games but has been caught out in a few which have led to goals.

He has filled in a couple of times at left-back recently but is certainly more at home on the right.

McCleary has been in and out the side due to injury but when he has played he has been awful – very ineffective.

He offered no threat going forward and whether it was down to not being fully fit I’m not sure but he’s picked up another problem so is out for the game.



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