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

Calum Pettitt

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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.

Championship

Reading should target ambitious Fernando Llorente and Paul Clement reunion

The Spanish striker worked with the Reading manager at Swansea City.

Mathew Coull

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It is looking fairly likely that Fernando Llorente will be on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur this summer. The Spaniard, who joined from Swansea City in the summer, has not lived up to the billing of being Harry Kane’s back-up option and it seems he could be on his way.

Llorente has settled nicely into life in the UK however, after a brilliant two-season stint at Swansea City preceding his disappointing Tottenham spell.

One team that should make an ambitious move to keep Llorente in the area is Championship side Reading.

(Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

The Royals were in the Championship play-off final last season under the guidance of Jaap Stam. However, this season has been a struggle. It cost Stam his job and the new manager is Paul Clement. The 46-year-old has won two and drawn one of his five games in charge so far, which has helped them stay clear of the drop-zone so far.

If Reading do stay up, they must address their main problem area, which is scoring goals. The Berkshire club did not do enough to replace the injured Yann Kermogant, who scored 19 goals last season and they have been made to pay.

Llorente, who has 24 caps for the Spanish national team, would certainly bring them that.

But how could Reading lure a former Spain star to the Madejski Stadium?

Firstly, he would not have to up roots considering the location being so close to London.

Then there is the main reason Reading would be an ideal place for him … the manager.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Clement was the man who got the best out Llorente when the manager at Swansea City. Under his guidance, Llorente scored nine goals in 17 games and helped Swansea survive the drop. It included a run of four goals in his final five games for the club.

Reading would love to have Llorente and, at 33-years-old and out of form, Spurs would struggle to fetch a big fee for the player.

The best move for them would be to send him out on loan, which would suit Reading. If they could negotiate some sort of wage-share then Llorente suddenly enters their price range.

It is a long shot, but if Reading stay up something drastic needs to change if they are to get back to promotion hunting. Bringing in Clement’s former star striker would be a start.

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Reading

USA international Andrija Novakovich deserves a call-back to Reading

The 21-year-old has been in fine scoring form over in Holland.

Max Cohen

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Photo: Getty Images

Reading supporters will be forgiven for blank stares when one mentions the name Andrija Novakovich to them. After all, the young American striker has only made two appearances for the Royals.

Nonetheless, Novakovich was rewarded with his first appearance for the United States National Team on Tuesday night, due to his prolific form on-loan in Holland.

The 21-year-old striker deserves a call-back to the Reading first team at the end of the season, as he could provide an answer to their scoring woes.

Novakovich was signed in June 2014, as an 18-year-old US under 20 international, but struggled to find opportunities in Berkshire.

An unsuccessful loan spell to Cheltenham Town followed in 2015/16, until the striker finally found joy at Dutch second-division side Telstar.

The American has netted an incredible 18 goals in 29 appearances this season for Telstar, a remarkable goal tally for a player of his age.

Novakovich stands at an intimidating 6 feet 4 four inches, yet has a deft finishing touch and intelligent skills; a skill set that makes the forward a handful for oppositions defences.

After spells in the Reading academy set-up, next season may finally prove the perfect time for Novakovich to break through into the Royals’ first XI.

The Royals are currently mired in 20th in the Championship, sport the division’s ninth worst scoring record, and recently parted ways with manager Jaap Staam.

This summer will surely lead to a clearing out of the squad, providing opportunities for young talents like Novakovich to emerge.

After his fruitful spell in Holland, the striker should be ready to make the transition to the Football League, and present Reading with a much-needed attacking boost.

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Championship

Jaap Stam dismissal could be too little too late for Reading

Jaap Stam was dismissed by the Royals earlier this week.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Reading were one penalty shootout away from the Premier League at the end of last season and it was hoped that they would go one step better to clinch promotion during this campaign.

However, it has been a disastrous season for the Royals and they currently find themselves three points above the relegation zone with eight matches to go.

Jaap Stam had retained faith from the board for his overachievement during his first year as manager, but with their position looking more and more precarious, it became untenable.

The club announced his dismissal on Wednesday in an online statement that featured the following:

“Jaap has not wavered in the time, effort and sheer determination he has put in to try to steer the team away from the position we find ourselves in. However, after careful consideration, the decision has been made that a change is now necessary.”

The Dutchman can’t complain that he wasn’t given a fair chance.

There are only eight matches remaining in the season and it has become obvious that he was no longer the right man for the job.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

It was inconceivable at the start of the campaign that Reading would be battling relegation. They were a team with promotion ambitions, but 2018 has been terrible for them.

The Royals have won only one Championship match during this calendar year.

A number of draws have kept the club stuttering along, but now they are only three points above the bottom three, a decision had to be made.

Stam will look back at his time with Reading as a positive one.

He managed to surprise a lot of pundits by taking them to third position in his first season and was unlucky not to be promoted, but there are a lot of people still scratching their head at how the Royals managed to finish as high as they did.

The likes of Fulham, Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday were all seen as better teams, but something clicked for Reading and it is difficult to explain what.

Mark Taylor made an observation on Twitter using expected goals. Stam’s team massively overachieved based on that metric, which projected them as finishing 19th.

This season, the model projects them in 17th. In short, this decline in league position was predictable.

Although there are problems with expected goals, it does provide a good explanation for Reading’s decline this season.

Their results have simply returned to the mean and they are now getting the points to match their performance level.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It isn’t that they have got worse under Stam’s management, but rather that last season was the outlier.

If Reading, as a club, want to be competing for promotion, Stam wasn’t the right manager to deliver that. The underlying numbers throughout his tenure highlight that.

His side scored 112 goals and conceded 121 in the Championship during the Dutchman’s time as manager.

That isn’t a record that suggests he is good enough to lead the club back to the Premier League.

The time for dissecting Stam’s tenure and his failures isn’t now. Reading must concentrate on making the right appointment to secure their place in the Championship.

It would be a huge blow if they were to fall to the third tier for the first time since the 2001/2 season.

With only eight matches left, there is little room for error for any incoming manager. The club must hope that this decision wasn’t too little too late.

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