Connect with us

Reading

A look at Reading’s transfer window to date – how have the new signings fared?

Published

on

Reading

With the departures of Ali Al-Habsi and Danny Williams inflicting further misery onto Reading fans following a heart-breaking playoff final defeat on penalties to Huddersfield Town, it was clear that Jaap Stam needed to strengthen his squad if the Royals were to have a chance at replicating their 3rd place finish in the Championship this time round.

Jaap Stam has added six new faces to his side so far and all but one have had a chance to show what they can do. Reading fans have started to form opinions of their squad members and what impact they could all play as the Berkshire club chases promotion this season.

Leandro Bacuna

The former Aston Villa man is the most recent arrival at the Madejski. The Curaçao international is versatile player, who adds a good deal of depth to the Reading side. Perhaps best known as a right sided player, Bacuna has spent his playing time under Jaap Stam occupying central midfield and hasn’t looked out of place.

Verdict: It is fair to say that Bacuna’s departure from Villa Park was met with relief by some Aston Villa fans. However, if Jaap Stam can keep the expressive utility man on the straight and narrow then he could be a key player for the Royals this season.

A superb solo goal in the cup against Millwall displayed his ability to run directly and strike from long range. It was a goal that showed that Bacuna could go some of the way to replacing the recently departed Danny Williams in the heart of the Reading midfield.

Pelle Clement

The first summer signing for Reading having arrived from Ajax back in June.

Another versatile player, but the Dutchman is definitely happiest in attacking midfield. Clement has worked with Jaap Stam previously during the Reading boss’ time with Jong Ajax, so it is no surprise to see that the 21-year-old has appeared in six of Reading’s seven games so far this season.

The former Ajax man clearly possesses excellent technical ability and has shown glimpses of quality during the first month of the season. However, he has at times looked lightweight and has struggled with the physical side of the game.

Verdict: A talented technical player, who has shown a really good desire and work-rate in his young Royals career. It will take time for the Dutchman to adapt to the physical rigours of English football but there is definitely a lot of potential there, especially considering his age and Ajax pedigree.

Modou Barrow

The Gambian international has added a whole new dimension to the Royal’s attack with his pace and direct running style. Since arriving from Swansea, Barrow has played in a relatively free role and has used this to great effect, picking gaps in defences with his speed making him a real threat in attacking areas.

During his time on loan at Leeds last season, first team opportunities were severely limited. However, the former Swansea man has looked lively and has impressed Reading fans as he has appeared in all games to date, and got his just rewards when he opened his account for the campaign by poking home against Aston Villa.

Verdict: Early signs suggest that the Gambian international could be the best bit of business for Reading so far this summer. Barrow’s pace and energy in the final third adds a new dimension to the Royal’s attack and may not be long before he is a firm favourite among Reading fans.

Jón Daði Böðvarsson

The Icelandic international arrived from fellow Championship side Wolves and an unfortunate injury has limited the forward to just two appearances in a Royal’s shirt. Nonetheless, Böðvarsson showed his work-rate on his debut against Queen’s Park Rangers and was only denied by a fine save by Smithies in the Rangers net.

The Reading faithful will have to wait and see what the Icelander really can bring to Jaap Stam’s side, but will be hoping that his goal against Birmingham will be a springboard for a solid season.

Verdict: Böðvarsson may not be a goal machine if his Championship record is anything to go by, but his work-rate and size could make him into an ideal target man which would add a new focal point to the Royal’s attack.

A striker who could bring the likes of Barrow and Swift into the play in dangerous areas will prove very useful as the season progresses. However, there are still a lot of unknowns about the Icelandic forward and Jaap Stam will be very pleased to see his return given the injury crisis currently affecting Royals forwards.

Vito Mannone

The Italian arrived at the Madejski Stadium and was immediately handed the responsibility of taking over from two-time player of the season Ali Al-Habsi. The Omani international was a firm fan favourite in Berkshire, but Mannone has done little wrong between the sticks so far.

Despite only keeping one clean sheet in his first five league outings, the former Arsenal man has produced some reasonable performances in these games and was at times left exposed by some questionable defending.

Verdict: Mannone hasn’t pulled up any trees in his first few games in Berkshire, but early signs suggest that the Italian is a good replacement for the departing Ali Al-Habsi.

It is likely that the former Sunderland man will be seeing the ball at his feet while at Reading a great deal more than he has any of his other clubs. Nonetheless, if he continues to perform the way he is at the moment, this signing looks like a very good pick up for Jaap Stam.

David Edwards

An attacking minded midfielder who, like Bodvarsson, has signed from Wolves. The 31-year-old will provide some competition across the central midfield positions.

The Welshman notched 10 goals in 53 games last season for club and country, having been a regular for Wolves since his arrival in 2008. However, he has been limited to just one league appearance so far this campaign.

Verdict: An experienced head in midfield, whose knowledge from playing across many divisions and internationally will help the likes of John Swift, Liam Kelly and George Evans to no end.

This was a smart pick up from Jaap Stam, as the former Shrewsbury man will add depth to the midfield, whil his natural eye for goal and knowledge of the division could be a massive boost for Reading going forward.

It has been a fairly successful summer transfer window so far for Reading. The Royals have added depth to their squad, with four of their signings having played Premier League football in the past. Nonetheless, there is still one position that the fans would love to see added to, and that is striker.

Jaap Stam has a bit of a selection headache with last season’s top goalscorer Yann Kermorgant sidelined and only two fit first team strikers available. If a new forward was to arrive, it would leave Reading feeling pretty confident moving past the transfer window as they look to push for promotion once again.

Royals fans will be hoping that a marquee star striker signing will arrive before the end of transfer window, allowing Jaap Stam’s men to really kick on after a mixed start to the season.

Calum is a Reading fan and has been a season ticket holder for many years. He is currently studying for a degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology.

Reading

Why Jaap Stam desperately needs an upturn in form at Reading

Published

on

Jaap Stam
Photo: Reuters

When Reading fans watched on as Huddersfield Town won in the cruelest of ways at Wembley all the way back in May last year, it sparked what many fans thought would be a time of uncertainty at the club. However, as the majority of the core squad remained and many additions were made, it led to a sense of quiet optimism around the Madejski Stadium.

Jaap Stam had played down the Royal’s chances of promotion, the pundits were predicting a far less glamorous season than the last – but this wasn’t enough to dampen spirits too much. Reading fans were used to seeing their club being underestimated and told that they simply weren’t cut out to go to-to-toe with the Championship elite.

However, perhaps even the biggest of skeptics would not have anticipated that the Royals would find themselves in their current league position at such an advanced point of the season.

At the start of the campaign it felt like the additions that Jaap Stam and his director of football, Brian Tevreden, had acquired were garnering a good deal of praise from Reading fans and, with the majority of the core squad intact, there was certainly cause for optimism as the campaign got underway.

The losses of Ali Al-Habsi and Danny Williams have definitely left a mark on Reading, which is now becoming fully apparent. At times Al-Habsi was producing 2-3 world class saves per game and Danny Williams put together a brilliant season from the heart of the club’s midfield. Currently, their replacements have not done enough to fill the void left by the departed duo.

The 2016/17 campaign was an excellent time to be a Reading fan. The club had a clear philosophy and style under Jaap Stam and were agonisingly close to returning to the Premier League after a four year absence. However, there were definitely some fans that were never convinced of the Dutchman and particularly the style of play that the club employed throughout the season.

At times, the Royals struggled to create goal scoring opportunities and certainly had some defensive frailties. No side had conceded more goals entering the play-offs and the Royals also had the second worst goal difference in the top ten.

It was easy to overlook some of the issues with the team last season as the Royals stormed a fantastic third place finish. However, this time around Jaap Stam’s men have massively underperformed.

Winless runs and a poor home record have left the club in a very difficult position that you feel no fans, playing staff, or management could have foreseen the club being in.

At times, Jaap Stam’s men play at walking pace and have little-to-no adventure going forward, seemingly not knowing the next step once they enter the final third. They have been beaten for quality against the top sides in the division and beaten for desire against fellow relegation candidates.

When going behind in a game, there is no ‘Plan B’ for Jaap Stam and the side often loses shape completely as they chase the game. Frustratingly, they have only recovered three points from losing positions.

Reading have flirted with relegation a couple of times since they were relegated back to the Championship in 2013, but this season has a much more toxic feeling considering the expectation for the club to follow up on the heroics of the last campaign.

This toxic feeling has spread amongst large portions of the support and is damaging the relationship between the players, the manager and the fans. This was perhaps epitomised by the events that occurred after Reading’s uninspiring 0-0 with League Two Stevenage in the FA Cup third round at the start of January.

Club captain Paul McShane made a heat of the moment decision in refusing to thank the travelling Reading faithful after the fans made it perfectly clear how they felt the team had performed during the game, as well as in recent weeks.

It was a flashpoint that had threatened to boil over as a result of Reading fans’ growing frustrations. The Royals are winless in eight and have found the net just twice in their previous seven games. Of course, things could change very quickly with a handful of quick wins, but this is certainly a very worrying period for Jaap Stam and his side.

Obviously, there are two options that the Reading board has to choose from – sack Jaap Stam or keep the Dutchman at the helm.

The case for sacking the former Manchester United man is growing. However, with the club allegedly treading the line with Financial Fair Play, you wonder if the club has the leeway to dismiss the Dutchman.

The January transfer window is nearly at the half way point and if the board were looking to bring in a new manager, the time would have been at the start of the month. For someone new to come in now, they would have a tough time learning the squad and acquiring new players in just a two week period.

If Jaap Stam’s men fail to put in a convincing performance in their FA Cup replay against Stevenage on Tuesday, it could spell absolute disaster for Stam.

The club have invested heavily in new signings; breaking the transfer record twice in the last two seasons with the additions of Tiago Ilori and Sone Aluko – neither of whom have justified the substantial price tags that arrived with them as of yet.

Reports are also circulating that Liam Moore’s time at the club could be limited, as interest in the centre half is growing. Given the situation the club currently finds itself in, you can understand why the 24-year-old could be willing to listen to any offers that come his way.

It has become increasingly common in the Championship that clubs can be on the brink of relegation one year and chasing promotion the next; and vice-versa. Jaap Stam may be a victim of his own success and is always quick to say that the club overachieved massively throughout last season.

Lee Johnson and Bristol City are a shining example of why sticking with your manager can sometimes pay dividends, with the club forced to wait until the penultimate game of last season before securing survival – despite having loan striker Tammy Abraham firing in 26 goals.

Johnson’s men are now flying high in the Championship semi finals of the League Cup with several Premier League scalps to their name.

Nonetheless, it is clear that the Reading faithful’s patience for Jaap Stam’s approach and lack of results are wearing thin. The Dutchman desperately needs an upturn in form if he is to fight off more talk of the sack and the first challenge will be getting a convincing win against Stevenage on Tuesday night, albeit, at the second time of asking.

Continue Reading

Fulham

How Twitter reacted to Reading signing Sone Aluko from Fulham

Jake Jackman

Published

on

Aluko

Reading completed the signing of Fulham forward Sone Aluko in a deal reported to be worth around £7.5 million, according to BBC Sport. The 28-year-old has signed four-year-contract with the club and will be hoping to help fire his new club to the Premier League. He leaves Craven Cottage after only one season, in which he contributed eight goals and ten assists.

This has been a move that has been rumbling on under the radar for a number of months and Fulham have done well to bring in the fee that they have. They signed Aluko on a free transfer last summer and have made a significant profit at the hands of a Championship rival.

There will be some that think Fulham have made the wrong decision as they have strengthened a team that finished above them last season. However, it is up to the Cottagers to bring in a better replacement and become stronger, despite the departure of Aluko.

Reading have wanted to add pace and directness to their attack this summer. Aluko provides that and he is a player that is proven in this division. The Royals came very close to promotion last season and will be hoping the addition of the Nigerian international will give them the injection of quality that they need. Although some will suggest they overpaid, it won’t matter if he helps them reach the Premier League.

Jaap Stam had the following to say on the arrival of Aluko:

“With his pace and ability on the ball, he can make life difficult for every opponent we face,”

“He poses a threat going forward, he keeps the ball well, he can play as a striker or out on the wing and I am sure he will improve us as a squad.”

Here is how Twitter reacted to the news:

Reading fans were pleased with his arrival:

However, Fulham fans had a mixed response:

https://twitter.com/PiazonPassion/status/902656481560076288

Continue Reading

Fulham

Why Reading must sign Fulham’s Sone Aluko and Huddersfield’s Nahki Wells to establish themselves as promotion contenders

Jake Jackman

Published

on

Reading

The new Championship season is less than a week away and last season’s play-off final losers will be hoping for a strong start to put them into contention again. Reading surprised a lot of people to finish in the top-six, before coming a penalty shootout away from the Premier League. It can be tough to bounce back from such a crushing disappointment, but the Royals have managed to keep Jaap Stam and their eyes will firmly be on the top two positions.

It is gearing up to be another competitive season in the second tier and Reading are heading into the new campaign under the radar, as few are mentioning them as part of the promotion picture. However, that could change if they manage to pull of the double swoop of Nahki Wells and Sone Aluko.

The former has been nudged down the pecking order at Huddersfield Town and Stam has confirmed, as reported by the Reading Chronicle, that the Royals have an interest in the player. Meanwhile, Aluko has been the subject of bids from an unnamed club, say BBC Sport, and many believe that to be Reading after their interest was reported, by HITC Sport, earlier this month.

Based on their goals for (68) and goals against (64) last season, it would be easy to think that Reading’s problems lie at the back, but that isn’t the case. Their defence was strong throughout the campaign and it was a few freak results that skewed their record to look like a poor one.

It was evident during the play-offs that they were well organised, as they conceded only once across three matches. They were playing against two of the best teams in the division and they managed to keep things tight at the back. This is the foundation that they must build on for the coming campaign.

During the play-offs in particular, they struggled to create clear-cut chances. A part of the reason for that was the lack of creativity, but another was their lack of dynamism in the final third. They were often predictable and lacked a player that could cause problems with his movement.

For the majority of the campaign, Garath McCleary provided this spark, but he was injured in the final and Stam needs to ensure he has other options in the squad.

Fulham’s Sone Aluko would be a great solution to this problem. He is an intelligent player in the final third, and he often picks up pockets of space. He can beat an opposition player in the dribble, while his direct style means that he offers a huge goal threat. Last season, he contributed eight goals and ten assists.

Reading need a player like him and he would be a good fit for Stam’s style, as he is comfortable in possession – underlined by his pass success rate of 85.2%.

Reading fans have a lot of love for Yann Kermorgant as he is a hard working striker, who puts the team ahead of himself. His haul of 19 goals last season shows the quality that he possesses, but at the age of 35, he can’t be a player that the Royals rely on. That is why another striker must be signed. Nahki Wells is one of the best players available to them.

The 27-year-old is more mobile and has a yard of pace that would provide an extra dimension to the Reading squad. For an investment of £10 million, he can be considered low risk, as he has scored ten or more goals in the last three Championship seasons.

If Reading do sign the Huddersfield Town striker, they would be getting a hungry player with something to prove after being denied a Premier League opportunity by Huddersfield. Stam and the club could only benefit from that. It would also provide the manager with tactical flexibility as he could be utilised as part of a front two next to Kermorgant.

Despite finishing third last season, Reading face a difficult battle to replicate their success this year, especially as they have to recover mentally from the Wembley disappointment. They need to add some proven quality to their ranks to create some momentum heading into the season. If they managed to sign Wells and Aluko, they would certainly go some way to establishing themselves as a real force in the division.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 The Boot Room.