Dear Mr McDermott,
I am writing with regards to Reading Football Club and their abysmal performance in the Barclays Premier League 2012/13 season to this date.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for your work up to this point. Under your management we have managed to go on a number of cup runs - most notably the 2009/10 season where we were within touching distance of reaching the semi-finals and paying a visit to Wembley. You've also managed to drag us away from relegation to League One, get us into the play-off final and, most notably, had us promoted as champions of the npower Championship in the 2011/12 season against all the odds. For that alone, you have become a firm fans favourite up to this point.
Your transfer dealings, in the past, have also been very impressive. To settle the ship in your first season in charge you brought in Andy Griffin and Zurab Khizanishvili to settle the leaky defence, as well as welcoming Matt Mills back into the side at our most desperate point. Then, over the summer, you brought in Ian Harte, Mikele Leigertwood and Matheiu Manset. Harte immediately made a fantastic impact and as a result Marcus Williams was shipped out on loan after poor performances. Leigertwood solidified the midfield and Manset was a new option as an attacker. Your transfer dealings go on, the likes of Jason Roberts, Hayden Mullins and Nicky Shorey have all signed up to wear the mighty hoops under your stewardship.
Not only have your transfer dealings be impressive, but the manner in which we have gone about these cup runs, league runs and title victory have been impressive. The style has been high tempo, attacking and exciting to watch. There has not, under your management, been too many bleak days. Notably, your team has started slowly and built up momentum, finishing the season strongly and thus having us forget the disappointing starts to the season. This has worked so far.
This season, however, things do not look like picking up. This season has seen the usually solid defence crumble, the midfield fail to pass the ball, the wingers forget how to cross the ball and the forwards doing more defending than shooting. Simply, this season has not been good enough.
This season, we have won just a single game. Happily, we beat Everton 2-1, yet that is where the happiness ends. The game was exceptionally lucky for the Royals. Everton should have won the game easily if it were not for an off day. Admittedly, the Royals played well and showed some fight and spirit, but the result was one which did not fill me with optimism - we were still outplayed. Since then, we have gone on a run of six straight defeats. I shall repeat, six defeats. That sort of form is unacceptable no matter what your ability, no matter what the fixture list provides, no matter what excuses you conjure up.
Before the Everton game, I was very defensive of you. As you have said, draws could easily be wins and it was just a matter of letting leads slip that let you down at that point. It was individual mistakes and a lack of luck. Since the Everton game I have not once felt like we would win a game. Of the six games we have lost, we could have and should have got at least a point out of each of them. The likes of Aston Villa, Sunderland, Wigan and Southampton should have been teams that we look to defeat and drag down to our level, yet against each we were poor. The team lacked fight, passion, and most importantly, quality. Yet for some reason, we showed fight and desire against Arsenal and Manchester United. Unfortunately, this fight and desire was let down by our appalling defending.
Your transfer dealings this season have let you down, bar returning hero Nicky Shorey. There was a distinct lack of ambition over the summer with the majority of signings coming for a minimal fee or as a free transfer on high wages, and yet of these all have failed to impress. Chris Gunter is a player similar to Shaun Cummings. He has potential but does not have the ability to protect his flank. Adrian Mariappa has shown glimpses of ability but is desperately let down by his goalkeeper, fellow defenders and the midfield in front of him and thus has failed to show the fans what he is truly capable of. As I've said, Nicky Shorey has been a bright point in an otherwise bleak season. Solid, reliable and a player of quality which we unfortunately lack. Garath McCleary has been an unusual one, showing signs of being a good signing but ultimately failing to impress consistently. What is most upsetting is your apparent refusal to play the only midfielder we have who is capable of retaining possession - Danny Guthrie. I do not understand what you see in Leigertwood but it is clear to myself and many other fans that Guthrie would be an improvement and provide a touch of class in the limited midfield that you put out. Pavel Pogrebnyak played so well for Fulham last season, but it is tough to play well for a team when there is no adequate service to thrive from. Essentially, your transfer dealings this summer have failed you and as a result we are left with a team that, essentially, punched above their weight in the Championship, let alone the Premiership. I await some true quality signings in January, and thus prove to us that you are, in fact, capable of spotting Premier League talent.
The style with which we won the Championship has also deserted the team. Crosses, high tempo, solid defending and great set pieces have all vanished this season. There is no consistent quality on the wings, poor possession in midfield and a defence which seems to think that positioning and tracking runs is of no importance when trying to keep a clean sheet. Not only this, but our method of attack seems to be throwing as many players forward as possible, thus leaving us wide open on the counter attack. Such as they are, the distinct lack of quality in the final third is disappointing the team. The defence is left outnumbered, the midfield leggy and the attack with no service. How do you expect us to win when the team is trying to do the same thing week in, week out, failing, yet being instructed to continue in the same naive manner. It shocks me that a manager who has shown himself to know how to get the best out of his team is failing to change things. There is no penetration from midfield, no change in tactics and a continued refusal to deal with the porous defence. Tell me, how do you expect to win games when we are so obviously lacking in a Plan B? The single tactical change that you have shown yourself capable of is moving our under-performing captain into midfield, thus losing both defensive ability and a passing quality. Has the decision to play McAnuff in midfield paid off even once?
What is it you intend to do to change things around? You beg with the fans and the media to give you more time to turn things around, yet over the past month nothing has changed. The team is lacking penetration, solidity and passion. Individual performances are not being punished.
Gorkss, so terrible for much of this season, is still in the team ahead of the Player of the Season 2011/12 Alex Pearce, who has not once in any of his appearances this season given a performance to indicate that he is not capable at this level. Leigertwood has offered nothing to the midfield and his passing statistics are truly terrible, yet he still plays ahead of the apparently abandoned Guthrie. Jobi McAnuff is untouchable on the wing, despite being continuously ineffective. In fact, the one thing that is continuously changing is the forward line. You don't seem to be settled on a forward line and as such, none of the forwards are hitting any kind of form. The formation remains a static, rigid 4-4-2 with no movement. It is constantly overrun in midfield yet you refuse to play an extra midfielder. The players do not care about possession, instead lumping the ball upfield with no apparent target. These are not decisions which will win games.
So tell me, Mr McDermott, if you want more time to turn things around, how do you intend to? Do you intend to stick with the under-performing players? Stick to the old fashioned and out of date 4-4-2 formation? Continue with the hit and hope approach to football?
Or will you actually change things and show that you are an adaptable, Premier League manager who knows that, despite his team's lack of quality, they can still win games with the right approach.
A concerned Reading fan