Season Preview - Reading
After narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier League last season, Reading are hoping to move on quickly from the disappointment.
We spoke to members on Reading forum Royals Rendezvous about their feelings about the upcoming season.
"I'd say that most Reading fans are hoping that we’re able to move on quickly from the disappointment of the play-off final defeat last season. I think we overachieved last season and we’ve lost a couple of key players – Danny Williams (to Huddersfield) and Ali Al-Habsi (to Saudi champions Al-Hilal)."
"Ali will be particularly missed, having won us more points than any other player. Progress is slowly being made in the transfer market – with Pelle Clement (an attacking midfielder from Ajax) and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (a striker from Wolves) joining the club and more expected to follow."
"Another striker has to be a priority though. Last season we depended too heavily on Yann Kermorgant, who will miss the start of the season and is in his final year before retirement. Notably the club has taken no first team striker on the pre-season tour of the Netherlands, with players injured or exiting the club. On a positive note, sixteen year-old Danny Loader scored four in a friendly against QPR and could be pushing to be involved in the first team this season."
"Overall, I think we need to be more creative up top; last season we consistently had over 60% of possession, but failed to do much with it. With this being the second season under Jaap Stam and with changes in personnel, we can hopefully add more purpose to our passing and be more inventive in attacking areas. The new pitch at the Madejski Stadium will help with that."
"On top of this, we need to improve defensively. Last season we were on the end of some hammerings, losing seven by three or more goals. Progress was being made towards the end of last season, following a shift to a 5-3-2 from an attacking 4-5-1. Early indications suggest that we’ll be starting the season with the more defensive set up this term."
"Right now, I’d say that a mid-table finish would be a good result, but add a good goalkeeper and a goalscorer and we could realistically start looking towards a play-off finish again."
When speaking about which players will be key, a couple of names came to mind.
"As mentioned above, we were dependent on Yann Kermorgant’s goals last season and we may be again this season. Yann scored more than the next two highest scorers put together and will no doubt be banging in the goals again."
"Elsewhere, players such as John Swift and Liam Kelly will look to continue their fantastic first seasons in the centre of midfield. Swift was part of the England U21 side that reached the semi-finals of the Euros in the summer, while Kelly came through the club’s academy. Tiago Ilori will hope to form a solid partnership with Liam Moore and Paul McShane at the back, following his move in January."
Finally, speaking about which fixtures Reading fans are looking forwards to, "there aren’t really any standout fixtures for Reading fans this season, with a large amount of the league being in north of Birmingham."
"That being said, the opening two games against QPR (away) and Fulham (home) will give an interesting start to the season against two London sides and will be eagerly awaited by fans."