Well, here we are again, for the fourth time this season it is match day for Reading in the Championship. Oh joy. An abject display from all involved Saturday has not done much to heighten the enthusiasm for the new campaign amongst supporters, with Reading now firmly in the relegation zone and are one of the two teams yet to pick up a point. Without meaning to sound overly negative, today and this weekend could prove pivotal and really demonstrate where the season could be headed.
Should Paul Clement motivate the team to bounce back from the start we have had, the confidence amongst supporters will rise and subsequently the mood amongst the players. Should we fail to pick up at least 1 or 2 points however – we are in real danger of getting cut off at the bottom early doors. Although Aston Vill on paper appears the more difficult of the games, I feel like today’s game could be even more of a test. A long way from home on a Tuesday night against a Blackburn side who have performed well so far without a huge backing – it could feel like a very lonely place on the pitch tonight. This is where we need to stand up and be counted and prove the ever-growing amount of doubters (including myself, sadly) wrong.
Blackburn will be a very stern test however. Managed by Tony Mowbray, they have made a very solid start upon their return to the second tier. They haven’t tasted defeat yet, picking up five points from a possible nine along with a victory in the EFL Cup. Although arguably they have not played any top teams in this division, picking up four points from their away games and a draw against a team in Millwall who I think could really be pushing for the top six this year is very respectable indeed. Under the stewardship of Mowbray, Rovers have won over 50% of their games. With a win rate of 52.7% at Blackburn, statistically Mowbray has enjoyed his best time as a manager, surprising the rate of 51.1% at Celtic. As we have seen with a number of the newly promoted sides across the EFL, Blackburn have really continued their good form from the last campaign in the early stages of this season.
As for the team, we *may* have had a slice of good fortune. Although I don’t agree with celebrating injuries, Bradley Dack is touch and go in respect to his fitness ahead of this game. Should Blackburn be without Dack, our chances of getting anything certainly will rise. Following a successful start to his career at Peterborough, Dack was an integral part of the side that were promoted last year and has enjoyed a very bright start to this season, including getting the winner against Hull before limping off with an impact injury. Another player that will not be in the Starting XI is German full back Derrick Williams. It’ll be interesting to see if we could see Dominic Samuel line up at Ewood Park, as im sure he would be hungry to prove that it was a mistake to let him go. With the experience of Peter Whittingham, Danny Graham and Charlie Mulgrew amongst others working with exciting youngsters such as Adam Armstrong, Kasey Palmer and Joe Rothwell – Blackburn look set for a decent season.
Understandably as mentioned above, I doubt we will be backed by a large travelling contingent. Kudos to each and every one who makes the trip on a weekday, but it will be important for us to take the sting and atmosphere out of the game quickly. Blackburn fans will be confident of continuing their good start – so hopefully a bright start will quell the optimism. Easier said than done, however.
Predictions time and I’m going to try not to be overly pessimistic. Bolton was the first game this year when a lot of supporters thought we’d get off and running in the league and it was our worst performance yet. With no expectations on today, that appears to be when we perform better. I’m going to put my neck on the line and go for a 1-1 draw.