Reading 3 Barnsley 0 Player Ratings

Well that was better! I saw/heard a lot of grumbling the excitement factor not being there and how we didn’t go for the throat in the 2nd half but I think that is nonsense. We were on the front foot most of the game and put a poor Barnsley side to the sword. At the moment we need a run of wins and I will take them however we can get them. Scoring 3 at home is something I will take every day of the week and I think the team and Stam should be commended on the performance and win.

Vito Mannone – 7

Was a spectator for most of the game but when he was called upon he did everything right. He is going through a lot personally at the moment with his mother being ill in Italy and it must take a lot for him to still be here with us giving 100%. Bravo Vito.

Leandro Bacuna – 7

Largely untested defensively but what he had to do he did well. Going forward he is so assured and confident on the ball. He can also drift into the base of midfield to sure us up there too. Had a couple of nice touches and showed attacking intent throughout.

Paul McShane – 6

Again he wasn’t tested massively throughout the game but did what he had to and gave that typical Paul McShane performance. He gets brownie points too for telling a moron in the Eamonn Dolan stand to “shut the f**k up” near the end of the first half. Something we have all wanted to say to a lot of the people in the stand. Well done Paul!

Liam Moore – 8

Liam Moore is the best centre back in the league. Enough said.

Chris Gunter – 6

He looks much better for us on the left than the right and I think is really winning people over. Like his fellow defenders he was largely untested but he did play a couple of loose passes that could have resulted in a Barnsley chance.

Joey Van Den Berg – 7

I have never been Joey’s biggest fan, I think the Championship is too quick for him in general but luckily for him and us we played Barnsley last night. I will give him a lot of credit, he was excellent in spells and of course scored a belting goal! It’s amazing what happens sometimes when you shoot from distance eh? I want to see Joey give this kind of display against an Aston Villa or Wolves though. Those are the sorts of games where he goes missing and looks out of his depth.

Dave Edwards – 6

Steady Dave opened the scoring and looked comfortable throughout the game. Apart from the goal I don’t remember him doing a great deal in the game. I like his energy and drive though, it is much needed in our midfield.

Liam Kelly – 6

Still waiting for the Liam Kelly of last season to appear. He played a couple of nice passes in the match and set up Edwards goal (I think, I’m miles away) but as with Edwards, I can’t remember him doing much else of note. He didn’t have to to be fair.

Sone Aluko – 5

I am still yet to discover what Aluko’s main purpose is in the team and to be honest I am not sure he knows either. He drifts around the pitch trying to get involved in the play and sometimes he can show us that flash of skill and pace we were expecting to see on a regular basis. He seems to be able to do the hard bit right in beating his man but he then follows that up with a poor finish or pass. Frustrating because I think he is a very talented player.

Mo Barrow – 9 Man Of The Match

Mo Barrow set the tone for me. He started most of our attacks off with a flashy bit of skill or some lightning pace and terrified the Barnsley full backs all night. I think it could have been a different game without him in the team last night for sure. He’s in really good form at the moment and long may it continue! One minor criticism is his final ball which is often frustrating but at least he is getting in the positions and being positve!

Yann Kermorgant – 4

I feel really bad giving Yann a rating of 4 because it isn’t his fault. Lets be honest here, the guy should not be starting games, he just isn’t fit. It must be so frustrating for him to not be able to perform to the high level he did last season. Has he had his day now or will he rise like a phoenix from the flames?

In terms of the game itself he really wasn’t in it at all.

Subs –

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson – 8

Arguably his best performance in a Reading shirt for me. Looks fired up and hungry from the second he came on and took his goal very well. Has to start on Saturday!

Adi Popa – 6

The lesser spotted Adi Popa came on midway through the 2nd half which was slightly unexpected. Had some nice touches and his shot led to Dadi’s goal.

Tiago Illori – 5

Not enough time to do anything of note, did nothing wrong though.

Jaap Stam manager rating – 8

Jaap played an unchanged team which worked for us last night on the whole. Only thing I would have done any differently is start Bodvarsson but it’s a minor grumble. He timed his subs very well and has clearly changed his approach when it comes to getting the ball in the box quicker. Needs to keep an unbeaten run together now and build on this 3-0 win.

Via @NathStPaulBAWF

Advertisements

The importance of John Swift

It’s fair to say, Jaap Stam has never been described as ‘gung-ho’ in his tactics. He prefers control over flair, the safe pass over the Hollywood ball. It’s what made Reading so successful at home last season; if you have the ball for 60 percent of the match, then that’s 60 percent of the match that the opposition cannot score in. Furthermore, for the majority of that time, Reading would have the ball at least 40 yards from their goal, meaning counter attacks tend to start from deep and so will have a lesser chance of a goal. Now, clearly, these tactics aren’t faultless: players will misplace passes, take bad touches and mistakes will happen. Yet, the evidence is in the 3rd place finish, this tactic of controlling the play is effective in the Championship.

However, the problem with playing the safe pass lies in the diminishing attacking threat. By often choosing to keep possession instead of taking on a defender or playing a risky pass, Reading aren’t going to create chances at will. With respect to Dave Edwards and Liam Kelly, they’re both more comfortable sitting in a deeper role in midfield. This is where John Swift plays such a vital role. At his best he possesses the confidence and ability to turn on the ball and play the killer pass, much like he did in Sheffield last month and for Aluko’s goal at Derby. When he was injured Reading looked very poor in attack, with the home game to Hull the nadir of that. This is because without Swift, the wingers often have to drop deeper to get the ball, so receive the ball in less threatening positions. Sone Aluko and Modou Barrow are very effective players when given the ball in good positions: facing the goal and an isolated defender. They aren’t so effective when having to play centrally and deeper, with countless defenders barring their way to goal. Aluko had to play more centrally in games against Hull and Sheffield United and it’s no coincidence that Reading struggled to create any attacking rhythm in those games.

Reading have scored 13 goals in the 10 games where John Swift has featured compared to 7 goals in the 7 games he hasn’t featured. They’ve also collected points at a rate of 1.2 per game when he has started compared to just 1 point per game when he doesn’t start. Furthermore, the average league position of the opponents faced when Swift plays over 20 minutes varies dramatically from 7.9 versus 15.6 when he doesn’t play. Hence, as the stats say, Reading score more goals and win more points when Swift plays, despite them playing significantly harder opponents when he does play in comparison to when he was injured.

Moreover, Swift has the goal threat to boot. Only two players managed more goal contributions last season. Those players; Yann Kermorgant and Garath Mccleary, scored a combined 28 goals last season, but have played very little minutes this season. Liam Kelly is still Reading’s top scorer, despite having no goals since the 16th of September. Liam Moore is the joint second top scorer with 3 goals, despite being a centre back. Reading are in serious need of a forward to gain some form in front of goal, yet until that happens, Swift’s goals from midfield could be invaluable.

Not to mention, John Swift is just an exciting player to watch. With the way he glides around the pitch and skips past players with ease, fans get excited. He’s the guy that can ‘make things happen’ in a Reading team failing to recreate last season’s success. It is no coincidence that Reading’s best performances this season have come when Swift has been at his best.

@calumtheGAM

Reading 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Player Ratings

Vito Mannone 6

I’m not sure he’ll have an easier game in his career; the stats say Sheffield Wednesday had a solitary, unmemorable shot on target. Best wishes to him and his family after his mother’s poor health this week.

Leandro Bacuna 6

One of the day’s best attackers, despite playing as a full back. He was let down by his decision making in the second half having got into promising positions in and around the box. Bacuna remains a very solid full back yet his attacking abilities seem wasted there when Reading desperately need creativity against these defensive sides.

Paul Mcshane 5

Did little wrong defensively and recycled the ball well, as he always does. He seems reluctant to attempt the decisive pass, which unfortunately means a lot of possession without penetration. Mcshane also managed to make a hash of an early half chance from a corner.

Liam Moore 6

Handled Wednesday’s direct balls up to Joao with relative ease. His long-range passing was effective, finding the advancing Bacuna multiple times. As with Mcshane, Moore didn’t do much wrong, he just wasn’t tested by a Wednesday side more intent on containing than attacking.

Chris Gunter 7

Another solid display from Gunter who has been in good form as of late. Always an overlap option on that left hand side, putting in multiple testing crosses in the first half. Perhaps limited by the fact that he was often forced onto his left foot when on the overlap, but that’s through no fault of his own.

Joey Van Den Berg 7

Just about my man of the match. It’s his job to shield the defence and keep the ball moving through the midfield and you couldn’t fault him on that. Gets bonus points for avoiding a booking via his signature clumsy fouls.

Liam Kelly 5

Looks a long way away from Swift, having inherited his position in the team for the time being. Too sloppy in possession when he wasn’t trying the defence splitting pass but that’s hopefully just rustiness after being out of the team for a while. On a positive note, between him and Aluko, Reading seem to be able to trouble defences from corners.

Dave Edwards 5

The idea seems to be for him to join Kermorgant in the box when the ball’s out wide, increasing the options from the crosses. But it really didn’t work on Saturday and Edwards didn’t do a whole lot bar his usual high intensity pressing.

Sone Aluko 6

He’s made himself undroppable, largely because I can’t see Reading creating much without him involved. Again had the most shots of any player, particularly coming close with a right footed strike in the second period. Frustrating as he wasted two presentable opportunities in the first half with his less favoured right foot.

Modou Barrow 6

Always a danger with the electric pace at his disposal but let down by his final ball time and time again. He made a hash of Reading’s best chance as he just couldn’t sort his feet out quickly enough.

Yann Kermorgant 5

We saw glimpses of his link up play although he’s clearly not back to his best yet. Reading need him back to his best as soon as possible otherwise these defences are going to keep holding firm.

Substitutes

Pelle Clement 6

He’s got style and he’s starting to add substance. Unfortunately, his goal bound drive wiped out Sone Aluko instead of his goal duck. Put forward a decent argument to start in the midfield as Swift’s replacement.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson 6

Lively link up play when he came on as he set up a great chance for Barrow. However, he then proceeded to overhit a simple through ball when Beerens was in space much to the ire of the crowd.

Roy Beerens 5

Only on long enough to hit the first man from a cross.

Jaap Stam 6

The clean sheet was exactly what the doctor ordered, yet he just can’t find the cure to this ailing attack. Anything but a win on Tuesday might spell the end of any lingering play off hopes for this season.

@calumtheGAM

Reading 0-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers Player Ratings

Vito Mannone – 6

Oddly, wasn’t really tested that much considering how much power Wolves had going forward. Left on his backside for Wolves’ excellent first and ruefully exposed by the AWOL defence for the second. Otherwise, Vito being Vito.

Chris Gunter – 6

Did relatively well considering he’s ahead in the pecking order over two other players who could also play left-back. Playing off his wrong foot, he still puts in the same effort regardless of flank. Looked so much more comfortable when moved over to the right. That said, if he is to gain more confidence, he really does need to return to right back on a more regular basis.

Leandro Bacuna – 5

The one where Leandro ‘phoned it in’ for the first time in a Royals shirt. Looked quite disinterested at right back and even more so at left back. I can sympathise in way as his best position is in the middle – ironically where we really needed him today. This one is on Stam, I’m afraid.

Paul McShane – 5

A more energetic performance from the Irishman, but often left chasing pace as the attacks kept coming. When you’re outshone by a midfielder masquerading as a centre back, you can’t help but feel that time is catching up with Macca a tad. Still reliable, but doubts creep in.

Liam Moore – 7

In the week where Liam has courted attention North of the Border in an attempt to lure him into retire early as a professional footballer, Moore did his very best to quell the marauding forwards of the opposition. Did well moving further forward in the second half especially to inject some life into midfield.

Tiago Ilori – 5

Strangely, but somewhat boldly removed by Stam around the half hour mark. Didn’t appear to do an awful lot wrong yet was pulled from the fray. Maybe he was still suffering from his head injury yet this seemed to be not the case from Stam’s post match interview.

Joey van den Berg – 7

A few weeks ago, I disparaged Joey for a woeful performance but today I can gladly say that he stepped up where others failed to do so. One of the few to try and match Wolves’ power and physique with any kind of success. Actually performed better as a centre-half than in midfield. Bizarre!

John Swift – 7

John just about edges it for Man of The Match of The Hooped Variety. Inventive, bold, tireless and often at the core of our best moves. Unlucky in the very first minute to hit the post which could have changed the game completely. Often at the core of everything that was good about our performance. Viva Le Swift.

Mo Barrow – 6

A decent showing from Mo without ever really doing anything stellar. Is he still not quite at full speed? I’m not certain. At times he looks like he cannot run another step, but then lurches forward on a lung busting run. Often outgunned against the huge behemoths at the back for Wolves – something Stam often fails to acknowledge exists.

Roy Beerens – 4

According to the manager being able to run for 90 plus minutes and able to put in a shift is good enough for a Championship footballer. We just have to forego any quality or threat of any kind. Bullied by Boly in the first half, Roy failed to inspire any faith in the decision to start him in every fixture, whilst others wonder why on earth they are dropped. We all know the answer (it rhymes with Flap). (I’m being polite).

Yann Kermorgant – 6

A whole lot of effort with little to work with. Excellent defensive work, as ever, but never had a clear chance at the business end. Obviously, still finding his fitness again but glimpses of the Yann we know and love were there to see.

 

Substitutes

Dave Edwards – 6

Inexplicably dropped in a game where he should have started against his former employers. Once again he must be shaking his head at how he is in the team one day, performs well, then dropped for the next game. Baffling.

Sone Aluko – 6

Brought on to replace Kermorgant, but did not play up front – that was the gift bestowed on the giant that is Beerens. Yeah, go figure. A few nice touches here and there, but found it difficult to be at the centre of many moves.

Jon Dadi Böðvarsson – N/A

Had little time to be involved, truth be told.

 

Manager  – 5

The stat that was doing the rounds before kick-off was that we have failed to submit the same side in 21 fixtures this season. A lot of the decisions appear to be so haphazard that it’s a wonder if they are called in via Ouija board. Why play one player out of position when three could do? Sure, let’s play a right back at left back, a right back out of position and a central midfield with more holes than a red light district.

It is no wonder we were totally out-powered by a rampant Wolves outfit that were well worth their position in the table. Yes, we had our chances, some should have been taken – but so many times Stam instructs players to possess the football with their back to the goal for pointless (backward) passes in and around midfield instead of playing with invention and drive to trouble the opposition – a preserve only John Swift could lay claim to.

It seemed that because Aluko couldn’t play 90 minutes, then Edwards couldn’t start, Richards was surplus to requirements (despite a very decent debut), Bacuna was bored to death and Gunter kept out two other natural left-backs. It’s wonder if some of the XI’s are just a toss of a coin whilst holding a rabbits foot and looking into a mug of tea for inspiration. We need more stability instead of relying on miracles to find consistency as chopping and changing so drastically for little effect is wearing thin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P. Finny.

 

Reading 3 Nottingham Forest 1 Player Ratings

Mannone 8

Hardly touched the ball in the first half as we were so much in control. Different story in the second half, decent early save straight after the restart preserved the lead and then made multiple stops when a goal looked more likely. His kicking and overall distribution was excellent as always. I think he needed that performance to convince a few fans as Al Habsi was such a popular figure.

Gunter 7

How is Chris a better left back than right back ? Makes no logical sense. He even had a decent early shot from outside the box. Can’t think of any mistakes and covered well for Barrow who still looks a bit unfit. Deserves some praise for playing multiple positions this season and never complaining. Model pro.

Moore 7

Captain courageous got back out on the pitch despite cracking his head open on Saturday. Nice to see him doing a couple of runs into the oppositions half instead of taking the easy pass, set the tone for us being more aggressive in attacking. Won all the big headers and tackles including a couple of last ditch ones in the first half as we over played in our own half. POTS by some distance.

McShane 7

After looking so uncomfortable at RWB on Saturday it was a relief to see him back at centre back last night. Much better showing and stopped a Forest player being through on goal with a sliding tackle mid way through the first half. Solid, but that lack of pace is starting to concern me.

Bacuna 8

Another player who played his best game for the club. His run and final pass for the first goal was exactly the kind of thing we’ve been desperate to see. Fast, incisive and calm with the assist.Also put in a lovely cross for Smith who possibly should have scored and had a powerful strike at goal just before HT. Every time he got the ball his first thought was forwards instead of sideways, could be a big player going forward. Only possible error was being caught of position for the Forest chance early in the second half.

Van Der Berg 6

Can’t remember him doing much wrong in his 45 minutes. Subbed due to a head injury.

Swift 8 MOTM

This was the Swift of early last season before his injury. Ran the whole match with his range of passing, close control and goals. His pass to release Bacuna for the second goal was Gylfiesque, inch perfect. All the flicks and tricks were back and you could see the confidence flooding back. Masterclass.

Edwards 7

Quietly Dave put in a good display. Kept it nice and simple and the team moving in the right direction. Did a lot of ugly chasing and closing down.

Barrow 7

That pass for the second goal was worth his weeks wage alone. I didn’t know he was possible of finding such a delicate touch. Still looks a bit unfit but that will improve with more game time. Must start against Derby.

Aluko 7

I think that’s the best he’s played since signing. Held the ball for Bacuna to set up the first goal and had several decent runs in the match. He has got very quick feet in tight spaces, hopefully we will see more of this now he’s regained some confidence. Was it an own goal ? I don’t think it was, but i doubt he’s bothered.

Smith 7

It’s clear Sam will always give 100 % for the team. The fact he played on after getting injured in the 5th minute is a sign of a good character. Maybe should have scored in the first half but lets not be too harsh on him. Hope he’s fit for Derby.

SUBS:

Clement 7 (45)

Lots of running and closing down from Pelle. Could have done better with a chance to play Barrow through on goal but looked hesitant at the wrong moment.

Kermorgrant 6 (60)

Got a bit more time on the pitch than Saturday and that will only help him. Looked a bit rusty as you would expect after so long out. One good moment was his clever run for the second goal, left more space for Swift as the defenders were attracted to him. Might start this Saturday if Smith is out with his injury.

Paul Mann