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How will Reading’s transfer window impact the rest of the season?

Two January arrivals at Reading could prove enough to lift the spirits among Jaap Stam’s side and provide a springboard for the rest of the season, writes Calum Pettitt.

Calum Pettitt

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Reading
Photo: Reuters

When Reading entered January it was fair to say that there was a great deal of pressure of Jaap Stam and his scouting team to deliver some big changes to the playing staff.

It has been a difficult season so far for the Royals and they have found themselves in the lower reaches of the Championship table.

The Reading faithful were looking to January as an opportunity to put right some of the issues surrounding the club, but with limited funds and an increasingly frustrated set of fans; Jaap Stam has no choice but to deliver.

The Dutchman has managed to add two new faces to the club in what was by and large a quiet transfer window for the Royals. However, Reading have signed what on paper look like pretty solid acquisitions.

The first to arrive was Tommy Elphick from Aston Villa. The former Bournemouth man looked calm and comfortable during his debut in the desperately needed midweek victory over Burton Albion and adds experience to what at times this season has looked like a ropey defence.

Reading have at fielded a slightly makeshift back line at times this season and will be pleased to have acquired a player that can operate on the left, the right, or in the centre.

The second and final player Reading added was a name the fans had been crying out for. Indeed, Chris Martin arrived from fellow Championship side Derby County, with a reputation for scoring goals and plenty of them.

The Scot has experienced some difficulties in the final third this term, but has a proven track record in the second tier and could prove to be the focal point that Reading have been looking for since the decline in the form of Yann Kermorgant.

However, with a maximum of 16 games available to Martin to turn around his own form, it remains to be seen whether that will be enough for the former Fulham man to make a serious impact in Berkshire.

The two main departures of the transfer window were Roy Beerens and Adi Popa, who left for Vitesse Arnhem and Al-Taawoun, respectively.

Beerens, brought into the team by Stam, was a regular in the Royals line-up. However, some quiet performances had left question marks over the the midfielder’s commitment to the club.

There is no doubt that the one time Dutch international is a talented player and was a consistent performer in the promotion push of last season, but often struggled with the physical side of the game.

Popa has departed on loan, but his Royal’s future seems to be in doubt. The Romanian international was never really given an extended run in the first team. Perhaps not as technically gifted as some of his colleagues, the winger possesses an excellent work rate and often looked bright and lively in his infrequent appearances under Jaap Stam.

The Romanian’s move to Saudi Arabia has frustrated some Reading fans, who feel that, with the likes of Sone Aluko and Garath McClearly struggling for form, the decision to reduce the club’s wide options, and not bring in any replacements, could add to the Berkshire side’s woes.

One player that Reading fans will be delighted to not see departing the club is Liam Moore. There was rumoured to be a great deal of interest in the imposing centre half and Jaap Stam will be delighted to have kept hold of the former Leicester man.

If Reading are to turn around their form, Moore will be crucial. He was a key man in the promotion charge last season and always plays with a great deal of passion and commitment, which has endeared him to the club faithful.

It is fair to say that Reading have not enjoyed the best of seasons. The win against Burton was massive. It was a long overdue result and many were calling for Jaap Stam to leave the club.

However, the club are now operating within a tight financial situation and it is thought that the cost of sacking Stam and hiring a replacement could be beyond them at this time, which leaves the Reading faithful with little option but to back the Dutchman and his current team.

Sometimes in football, supporters are quick to demand a complete overhaul of the team and management when a club is going through a rough couple of seasons. However, this is often not the best possible solution.

If Stam was going to be moved on, it would have happened earlier in the campaign and it is fair to say that Reading do still have a talented squad full of Premier League experience and current internationals.

While the club have only added two new players to the fold, this may just be enough to lift the spirits around the club.

If they can deliver a victory against Millwall on the weekend, it could be a springboard for the rest of 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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