Vito Mannone – 6
Literally had nothing to do apart from pick the ball out from his net twice. A slight exaggeration, but you would be hard pushed to recall anything else of note. Given his own personal situation of late, he did well to perform at all.
Chris(tmas) Gunter – 5
Back in his newly found home of left back. Again, he carries out the role but can’t be expected to excel in the task. A square peg that’s battered into submission until it fits.
Paul McShane – 4
As has been said before, Macca is looking way past his best whilst his counterpart continues to excel and out-perform. Even when Burton barely had a striker to contain, McShane still looks laboured as he passes only to what’s next to him.
Liam Moore – 6
Probably the only outfield player that can hold their head up high, even so he was played into trouble by van den Berg that led to Burton’s winner. Cut a distraught figure as the last player to leave the field. Was he figuratively saying a farewell to the Madejski? It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if he did leave, though imagining this team without him does not bear thinking.
Leandro Bacuna – 5
Observing Leandro from the stands, one could sense the frustration from him as he wandered trying to find some momentum in a game where there was none to find. Often found cajoling his team-mates into better including an exchange with McShane that clearly did not include seasons greetings.
Joey van den Berg – 3
Another afternoon to forget for the flailing Dutchman. Caught in possession when it was easier to launch the ball into oblivion, but once again we tried to be too clever when the brain cells aren’t there to pull it off. The effort is there, but the application is bereft.
Liam Kelly – 4
Sadly Liam is now cutting rather sad figure in central midfield. The confidence has been squeezed out where the game passes him by. The energy is there at times, but not in the frequency or as frenetic as it was. At fault also for the first goal by losing his man. However, the question does have to be asked of why he is there in the six yard box in the first place?
Dave Edwards – 6
A tidy if unspectacular performance from Dave, but that’s exactly what he gives us week in week out. If played to his strengths he could be devastating, but Stam has not worked out how to deploy him or use him well enough. That said, the same could be said of most of the squad.
Mo Barrow – 6
Scored the goal and generally was the fulcrum of everything half decent of our one dimensional attacks. Again, if used as he should he could be an absolute game changer, but without anyone else on his wavelength he struggles to rise above the mire.
Sone Aluko – 3
All over the place. Literally. What role was he supposed to be playing? Right-wing? Inside Right? Trequartista? Anywhere where the ball was? At times, he was anywhere in the opposition half and at times, even at Right-Back, when there was no need for him to be there! Even so, wherever he was none of it was with any purpose or quality. Bad management or bad application? Answers on a postcard.
Yann Kermorgant – 3
I cannot think of a performance where I have noticed Yann less. Currently he seems to being played purely on reputation gone by rather than any kind of form. When once there was a spark of expectation that he could change any game in an instant has now been replaced by a figure that looks so far off the pace.
John Swift – 6
Tried to lift the game up with some much needed energy and skill, but like Barrow, the rest of the team failed to be on the same wavelength. Possibly brought on for the wrong player in Edwards.
Jon Dadi Böðvarsson – N/A
Alas, not on the field long enough to make an impression. Again.
(Mis)-management – 3
On a day that heralded so much in being the 500th game at the Madejski, few will have felt so empty of effort and entertainment. Unfortunately, Jaap has designed a team that is so flat, benign and so disjointed that it’s hard to watch. Aside of Moore and Barrow, the rest look confused and jaded. The lack of any attacking flair, style and passion reflects in their defensive work where closing down, pressing and tackling seem surplus to requirements.
After the ‘performance’ Stam derided the players for not being able to carry out what is being required of them. If so, then why not substitute them for players that are itching to play? Why not at least try Böðvarsson rather than continually overlooked over a malfunctioning Yann? Why are Gunter and Bacuna played out of position? Why actively encourage possession football that does not barely threaten the opposition box? Why never trying Ilori over an aging McShane? Why not try a different system that has clearly been nullified and worked out consistently at home? Yet week after week, we see the same trudging, laboured and lifeless performances.
In a weekend where other managers have lost their Championship roles, one has to wonder how long Stam has left. The fans are bored, the players barely look interested and, in Stam’s eyes, can’t do what they train for week in, week out. It’s hard to find any Christmas cheer to muster. A trip to Bristol City lies ahead on Boxing Day. If this performance is anything to go by, it may be their last Christmas.
Merry Christmas. Sigh.