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Thatcher’s going away party

Rory Fitzgerald

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The recent Reading


Last season Reading won the Championship with 89 pts, ahead of Southampton in 2nd (88pts) and West Ham in 3rd (86pts) who got promoted via the Play-Offs. This season they are bottom of the league and 14pts behind both West Ham and Southampton.


Brian McDermott's style was seen as quite direct. Earlier in the season, shortly after his move, Danny Guthrie took to Twitter with his frustrations "...I'm trying to fit into the direct style of play the manager wants and I pass too much at the minute which is my best asset. I understand what the manager wants but stopping habits like going and getting the ball from the back 4 is difficult. I will adapt to what is asked of me, the most important thing is the team". Combined with the playing squad that wasn't sufficiently added to following promotion and apart from the start of the season, there has only been one 2-week period that they were out of the bottom 3. Following a run of 5 successive defeats, McDermott was sacked and replaced with Nigel Adkins, someone that is seen to play a more progressive brand of football which has even been recognised by the Reading fans as they went head-to-head with Adkins Southampton team for the Championship last season.



Rodgers @ Reading


On joining Liverpool, Rodgers said "That six months at Reading over the course of a nearly 20-year period coaching and managing has been great learning for me. Hopefully that will be the defining moment of my career. I probably became more clinical after that. I went in there looking to change things too quickly. I went in thinking "right, the club want a new vision, a new philosophy" and I felt if I stripped it down quickly and let it build then that would be okay. But what I realised after that was you are still in the business of winning. You talk about football, creativity and invention, but you have to win games - as simple as that. That was something very important to me on reflection when I came away from Reading.'


Reading are currently captained by Jobi McAnuff, someone well known to Brendan Rodgers. McAnuff played with Rodgers when they were at Watford and when Rodgers left to move to Reading he went back to Watford and signed McAnuff. As for Hal Robson-Kanu, he was let go by Arsenal at 15 because '...he wasn't strong enough or fast enough'. According to Robson-Kanu, he says "Brendan Rodgers was the academy manager at Reading and he liked what he has seen of me. He told me I would progress through the ranks and become a first team player and I liked what he had to say. A few other clubs came in for me but I stuck with Reading and haven't looked back'.



The current Reading


It's difficult to know what to expect from Reading. Nigel Adkins has been in charge for 2 games - away at Arsenal that they lost 4-1 and home to Southampton that they also lost 0-2. In those games, Adkins changed his keeper, his center back, tried Kelly at right back then left back, changed his defensive midfielder and his striker so it will be difficult to predict their line-up. Their set up in the past few games has been a varient on 4-5-1 i.e. 4 defenders, 1 striker and 5 midfielders - be it a 2 & 3 (like below), 1 and 4 or a just a simple 5.





Players in bold are those that started both games, those in [italics] only started 1 of the last 2.



Kelly Mariappa [Morrison/Pearce] [Gunter/Shorey]

Karacan [Akpan/Leigertwood]

McAnuff Guthrie Robson-Kanu

[Le Fondre/Pogrebnyak]


Players that haven't got a start in the last 2 games and may get a chance against Liverpool are Ian Harte, Stephen Hunt, Gareth McCleary and if he is fit, Jimmy Kebe.


The following graphic is the average position of the players vs Southampton which has been Adkins only home game. On the face of it, it looks a 4-3-3. However, my interpretation of it is that Guthrie is playing off of Adam Le Fondre as an attack minded midfielder. On the right, Robson-Kanu is playing very high, however, I believe this is a product of Reading attacking alot more down their right than their left, hence, Robson-Kanu's average position is alot higher than McAnuff's. When Reading go down their left, McAnuff will look to attack the full-back and get crosses in just the same as Robson-Kanu.


The performance against Southampton was especially poor considering it was a must-win game given their position at the bottom of the league. Also, it was a perfect game to impress the new manager by going out and beating his old employers that sacked him. However, apart from the opening 20mins when they competed, they were largely poor with very little 'Premiership' quality in their team[/b][/i][/color].



Reading - 'Possibly' the worst team across Europe's Top 5 Leagues


Reading average the lowest number of shots on goal at home at only 9.2 per game. Only Siena in Italy average less in Europe's Top 5 Leagues at 8.4.


They also average the lowest amount of possession at just 40.7% in home games. Think about that, on average the opposition get almost 60% of possession at their ground !! In Europe's Top 5 leagues, only Levante in Spain have less possession at home (37.9%) than Reading.


Their pass success rate is also incredibly poor at 69% at home which is 2nd worst in the league, only Stoke are worse with 68.7% and only Levante are worst than these 2 in Europe's Top 5 Leagues i.e. Reading are 3rd worst in Top 5 Euro Leagues.


Somewhat surprisingly, given that Reading are out of possession 60% of the time at home, it might be expected that they put alot of tackles in but they don't, they put in the lowest amount of tackles in home matches in the league at 16.1 per game which is the 2nd worst across Europe's Top 5 Leagues. Furthermore, Reading have given away the least amount of frees at home, just 9.7 on average per home game. Man Utd are 2nd in this stat but that is understandable because Utd dominate games at Old Trafford and don't need to tackle that often.


  • As a consequence of Reading;
  • Having so little of the ball,
  • Being so poor at distributing it, and
  • Having a below-average tackling rate,


It probably comes as no surprise that Reading concede the highest amount of shots on goal per home game at 17.8. This is also the worst rate amongst teams in the Top 5 leagues across Europe.


Also, they also average the least amount of dribbles in the league at just 4.3 per home game with Valenciennes in France averaging less in Europe's Top 5 Leagues.





Reading have lost their last 7 league games on the spin scoring 4 and conceding 17.


At the Madejski, they have only been kept scoreless in 4 games from 16 this season and in half of those games have scored 2 or more, though in their last 3 home games they have only scored 1 goal.


In 16 home games they have conceded 2 or more goals in 10 of them and have only kept 3 clean sheets - the last of which was on December 26th.


In the past 4 months, to get a flavour of how Reading have done up to the point of McDermott being sacked, Reading's record has been P19 W4 D2 L13 and conceded twice as many as they scored i.e. F20 A40. This is the worst record in this time period with Stoke winning only 1 point more showing just what a slide they have been on.



Possible Reading approach


I think Reading will look to attack down the wings as much as possible. Whoever is picked between Akpan, Karacan and Leigertwood in central midfield, they are not playmakers. They are likely to keep possession simple and find the full-backs and wide men to let play develop in a wide areas. The Reading goal at Arsenal in the 4-1 defeat, Le Fondre's early chance against Southampton and Le Fondre's header that Boruc nearly carried over the line vs Southampton, all came from balls into the box from out wide. 


Unless Leigertwood has done something to annoy Adkins in his short time there, he is likely to come back in after the poor showing of Akpan and Karacan together vs Southampton.


Out wide, its a choice between McAnuff ©, Robson-Kanu, Garath Cleary and, if fit, Jimmy Kebe. These are largely Reading's better players and because they go wide quite often, Reading put alot of balls into the box from wide areas. In fact, only West Ham have crossed the ball more often at home than Reading.


Top scorers in Premiership;

  • 10 - Le Fondre
  • 5 - Pogrebnyak, Robson-Kanu, Kebe
    Top assists in Premiership;
  • 8 - McAnuff
  • 4 - Shorey, Ian Harte, Akpan
  • 2 - Robson-Kanu, Kebe



Possible Liverpool approach


Johnson Carragher Agger Enrique


Gerrard Henderson

Suarez .................. Coutinho



The graphic below is shows how the average position of the players vs Villa. There is potential for this to work quite well against Reading. The changes in personnel would be Suarez in Downing's position but with more licence to cut in-field to create space for Johnson and for Sturridge to be the focal point.




  • Liverpool should dominate possession heavily in this game. The 3 best teams at keeping possession in the Premiership in away games are Man City (58.8%), Arsenal (57.6%) and Liverpool (56.2%). When Reading played Arsenal at the Madejski this season, Arsenal had over 60% of the possession. Whilst City have yet to go to Reading, I looked at Swansea as a proxy given their focus on ball retention. Swansea drew 0-0 but also had over 60% of possession. In Reading's last home game against Southampton, Reading had only 42% of possession.
  • Assuming a high percentage of possession, Johnson and Enrique could see alot of the ball and therefore provide the width in possession. Against Villa, they had the 1st and 3rd most touches of the ball in our team and against West Ham they had the 3rd and 5th most touches.
  • An element of protection for the full backs could come from Lucas being able to hold back and cover the full-backs. Whilst the graphic above shows him sitting between the center backs, that is more an indication of the team in possession. When out of possession, he is likely to be disciplined and cover the full backs, Johnson probably more so that Enrique as Henderson does a good job on that side.
  • By allowing Coutinho and Suarez to come infield to link up with Gerrard & Henderson, there could be opportunities down the sides of the Reading defence. Coutinho & Gerrard can open a defence with accurate passes and Suarez & Sturridge can provide the runs and movement with Suarez coming from a bit deeper. The screenshots below show how susceptible Reading were against the clever play and running from deep of the Southampton players.



Southampton's 1st goal vs Reading from Jay Rodriguez




Southampton's 2nd goal vs Reading from Adam Lallana





Whilst it is difficult to be confident about the set-up and team that Adkins will send out, Liverpool should be able to dominate this game and if they play anywhere their potential they should be able to score 2 or more goals against this Reading team which should be enough to win the game.


Reading 6/1

Draw 3/1

Liverpool 1/2



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Another great thread Rory.

I don't know where you get all these stats from though, i bet you just make half of them up.




I also colour in the heat maps with Microsoft Paint and do the pitch positions with Microsoft PowerPoint, its great fun. It took me ages to do all the arrows in the graphics for the West Ham thread to show their 'punt & hunt' tactics and how often they cross the ball ;)

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Bib Theory is mental :lol:


These were all in the green bibs this week











No sign of Carragher or Lucas in those training pics. They could have picked up knocks. Be very suprised if Wisdom and Sama were picked when Johnson and Skrtel were fit.

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No sign of Carragher or Lucas in those training pics. They could have picked up knocks. Be very suprised if Wisdom and Sama were picked when Johnson and Skrtel were fit.


Wisdom and Sama on the right side of defence, the side Gerrard generally operates on with no Lucas insurance ? It could certainly put alot of stress on that side of the pitch.


Don't think it will happen mind.

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For the gamblers:


'Reading have been losing at both half time and full time in their last 6 matches in the Premier League.'


Liverpool HT/FT is EVS


And apparently, Liverpool have scored in each of their last 10 away games, which is the longest run of it's kind in the league

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For the gamblers:


'Reading have been losing at both half time and full time in their last 6 matches in the Premier League.'


Liverpool HT/FT is EVS


And apparently, Liverpool have scored in each of their last 10 away games, which is the longest run of it's kind in the league


Reading have lost 7 on the bounce, could set a club record of 8...


wouldn't put my money anywhere NEAR us


7 in the League - 8 incl cups

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Wot, no foreigners :








-----------------Baldwin-------B Castle


--R Luxembourg ----------------------------t Blair



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