I’m sure I will not be the only Reading fan who was at the Swansea game incredibly disappointed with what I saw, not for the first time this season. We looked like we’re lacking a lot of things already and things will get worse before they get better.
The most painfully obvious observation I could comment on is our lack of a striker. Personally, I’m getting more and more frustrated with hearing Jaap come out with comments suggesting that we were priced out of any potential moves for any striker during the transfer window. I’ve got a few comments on that:
1) DON’T GET RID OF PLAYERS BEFORE THEY ARE REPLACED
I remember tweeting after Dom Samuel departed that it was far too early for him to be leaving. Not that I thought he’d set the league alight this year, but for the simple fact that if you have two senior strikers in your squad and you sell one before bringing in any replacements – prices are going to increase. Now, I do not have a business background in the slightest – but surely that’s not a difficult thing to understand? If you’re going to complain at vastly inflated prices – perhaps don’t contribute to that yourself.
2) WE CANT RELY ON KERMOGANT (I think)
For some reason, a lot of fans have suggested that as soon as Yann returns from injury we’ll automatically start scoring again. I’m not saying that Yann won’t play like he did last year, but I think expectations may need to be lowered. For a start, being out that long with no pre-season means realistically Yann will need a month or so to get back to full fitness. That’s not taking into account the fact he is in his mid-30s and this time period could be a lot longer. Whose to say Yann will be able to get anywhere near the level he was last year? If he isn’t, where will we be come January when prices for forwards will have risen even more in conjunction with the severity of our issues. Reliance on Kermogant is definitely a dangerous game. We’ve all seen how injuries have hampered McCleary’s form – let’s not forget that Yann is a good few years older. I hope I’m wrong and I could well be wrong in which case I’d happily eat my own words – but I am worried.
3) LOOK DOWN THE LEAGUE’S OR INTO EUROPE
It amazes me that if the prices were as shockingly inflated as the owners and Stam will have us believe, why did we not look elsewhere? Take Josh Morris at Scunthorpe for example. He had a very bright season in League One last year, helping his side reach the playoffs. Would Scunthorpe really have turned down a bid of £3m let’s say? For a man who’s been scoring frequently in the division below and who looks ready to make the step up, personally, I am amazed to not see us go for a player like him. Where did we get Adam Le Fondre from again? Or take a look at Leeds. Saiz and Roofe have scored 11 between them this year. Did they come from this division? Nope. It seems however unless it’s from Holland, Jaap and Brian are struggling to source talent outside of the Championship/Premiership.
The next major issue I’d like to address is the lack of a plan B. We all know what Jaap did last year having implemented a style of football that although may have initially been divisive, it worked very well. This year, however, it is clearly not. Teams sit back, make it impossible to break them down and lead to us having to resort to crossing the ball when predictably given the lack of goalscorers in the squad we have no man on the end of it. Then what? When that doesn’t work – do we switch it up? Nope. Last night we did not change our style once, we were playing negative, conservative passes around the back after going behind which made Swansea’s job a lot easier to hold out against us. Take the home game against Bristol City. There was a 10-minute spell at the beginning of the second half where the tempo and the intensity were high, and what happened? We carved out chances, the fans got behind the side and everyone with a blue and white allegiance in the ground got a lift. There was never even a remote indication that this could happen yesterday. Incredibly frustrating, but I’m afraid to say incredibly predictable. Jaap is a fantastic coach, but his lack of flexibility is concerning me more and more with the fact that more and more sides are showing they’ve figured out how to stop us.
Do the players deserve a lot of criticism? Well, I don’t think so. Sure Bodvardsson has hardly hit the ground running but he has the pressure of being the only forward in the squad on his shoulders at a new club. Whether he is good enough or not, the fact is if you pin all your hopes on one man, it’s not surprising he may struggle to regain form if things go pear-shaped. Okay, we’ve been a little fragile defensively but again – the pressure on the defenders will be immense given the fact they know should we go behind the chances of us making a comeback are lower than ever at the moment since Jaap took over.
The owners have shown they’re willing to spend. The players are trying to relay the instructions of Jaap, which at the moment isn’t working. A lot of hard work is needed to rectify this on the training ground to start picking up points with the squad we have. Unless we change things around however, I think we’re going to struggle to do so.