2012/13 Report Cards: Midfielders

Christopher Lee

So we've looked back at the goalkeepers and the defenders' performances from the campaign. Today it's the turn of the midfield who as a unit had an underwhelming 12 months.

As mentioned in the previous article - In terms of grades, the grading system will be be done from A+ to an F, where A+ is a magical one of a kind season and F is the type that makes you want to put the players in stocks and hurl rotten vegetables at them.

Also it's not just about performances but expectations, previous history etc.

For example it would be unfair to give Stuart Taylor a low grade on the basis that he only played 4 games when he was signed as a back-up, nor totally slam Simon Church after he didn't even feature.

Stats used are Premier League ones only.

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Hope Akpan

Games: 9 Assists: 3

Akpan signed for Reading just days after facing them in the FA Cup for Crawley and while his signing was initially ridiculed, Akpan showed his potential by creating three goals in two games against Newcastle and Chelsea as Brian McDermott's side enjoyed their fine start to 2013.

Sadly as we all know the upturn didn't last and Akpan picked up a niggling injury that ruled him out of the final few games for McDermott. He returned to make a cameo against Arsenal and Southampton but that was the last we'd see of the midfielder for the season.

While not a 'wonder' signing, the 21-year-old Akpan certainly fits the Reading mould and he showed enough during his brief time in the spotlight to suggest that he'll be a decent asset in the Championship and perhaps in the Premier League one day.

GRADE: B-

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Daniel Carrico

Games: 3

Ahhh the Carrico-tron 2000, a mythical creature who can keep teams up with a single flex of his little toe, and banish dragons from the deepest darkest dungeons, only he can take Reading to Champions League glory.

In all seriousness Carrico played less than 90 minutes after a much hyped transfer from Sporting Lisbon at the very start of January. He played 45 minutes on debut against West Brom and then wasn't seen again for months before a promising cameo against Liverpool and a brief few minutes against Norwich.

For a man who was once rumoured to be a £10m+ transfer target it's safe to say he hasn't lived up to the hype so far and the former Sporting Lisbon captain could well end up with Mass Sarr, Emerse Fae and Marek Matejovsky in the much hyped but pretty terrible foreign signings conversation should he leave this summer.

On the other hand he could well end up like Jimmy Kebe but right now it's seemingly more of the former than the later.

GRADE: D-

******

Danny Guthrie

Games: 21 Goals: 1 Assists: 1

Guthrie divided the fanbase the whole season, between those who felt he was an over-hyped awful professional, and those who felt he was the best we had and Brian was an idiot for not playing him. The truth probably resides somewhere in the middle because while his off-field antics such as refusing to travel to Sunderland can't be condoned. It's also impossible to argue that he wouldn't have been a better option that Mikele Leigertwood....

If you were to judge him solely on performances then it was a distinctly average season from the former Liverpool player. At times he showed a top range of passing but at other points he looked unfit and lacking drive. A return of just one goal all season was poor while just one assist was equally poor.

The appointment of Nigel Adkins may well have saved his Reading career and it's now down to the midfielder to show the type of form that had the player himself talking up his England chances.

Sadly as our marquee midfield signing he failed to produce the quality or consistency we needed this year and while not all of his problems were of his own doing, he still talked more talk than walked the walk.

GRADE: C-

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Jem Karacan

Games: 21 Goals: 1 Assists: 1

One minute you think he's just not cut out for the top and the next he looks at home. Jem continued his erratic Reading career with some promising performances mixed in with clueless ones, Under Brian he looked like a headless chicken but when Adkins arrived he actually looked a midfielder who was comfortable spraying the ball around.

Injury didn't help his progression this season and with rumours of a move to Galatasaray refusing to go away, it might be up to another club to see which is the real Karacan.

GRADE: C

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Jimmy Kebe

Games: 18 Goals: 5 Assists: 2

87%, 65%, 76%, 63%, 42%. Those are the percentage of possible League games that Jimmy Kebe has started over the past five seasons, but when you consider that he's still ended each of those seasons in the top five for assists or goals, you can see the joy and despair of dealing with Jimmy Kebe.

Once again our Malian midfielder showed his quality, with five goals and two assists but again he saw his season curtailed by injury and missed the key games of the run-in.

He's yet to appear under Nigel Adkins and with a year left on his contract could we have seen the last of Kebe in a Reading shirt? I hope not because if we were to somehow get 38+ games from Kebe next year, I'm convinced we'd be a top six side at the very least.

I'm giving him a C+ for the season, simply because he missed so many games this year. While that's not his fault it's still disappointing to only get 18 games from your star midfielder.

GRADE: C+

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Mikele Leigertwood

Games: 30 Goals: 1 Assists: 1

OK... throughout these articles I've tried to get across the idea that these grades are based as much on expectation as actual performance. So with that in mind, what did we really expect from Mikele Leigertwood this season? In looking back at his performance last year here's what I wrote.

Mikele remains an integral part of the system that Brian likes to play and we'll need another good season from the midfielder if we're to survive next year.

Sadly we didn't get a good season from Mikele Leigertwood but while it's safe to say he often drifted between dire and awful, he also had a few good games and was a victim of poor tactical choices by his manager.

Reading won six games last season and four featured Leigertwood in the team so he wasn't totally inept and nor was he the sole reason we got relegated. When we played a 4-5-1, Ledge looked fairly competent but he showed he just wasn't cut out for a 4-4-2 with a string of awful displays in games where he was forced to try and put his foot on the ball, something he's just not cut out for.

This tweet is probably a bit harsh but it at least generated a few laughs in a dire run.

Despite the jokes and the frustrating performances it was still disappointing to see such a loyal servant booed off against Villa. The man who scored the goal to get us promoted deserved better and the role he's played in our recent success shouldn't be forgotten. It was certainly a season to forget but it wasn't a mess totally of his own making.

GRADE: D

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Jobi McAnuff

Games: 38 Assists: 7

Another popular target for the boo-boys was captain Jobi McAnuff and while he failed to find the net despite starting every league game, he did provide seven assists and was a steady if not spectacular performer throughout a difficult season.

This wasn't a vintage McAnuff season but he didn't let the team down and always gave it 100%. He's not someone that should be starting 38 league games but that's a decision for the managers rather than Jobi himself and the fact that Nigel Adkins played him every week suggests that it's not just Brian McDermott who saw the value he had to the side.

GRADE: C+

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Garath McCleary

Games: 31 Goals: 3 Assists: 2

McCleary appeared in over 30 games this year but only half of them came as a starter as he struggled to nail down a place ahead of McAnuff, Kebe and Robson-Kanu.

At times he was superb, with his match turning performance against Stoke on the opening day, or his top quality strike at Norwich good examples of his potential. Sadly In others he was just ineffective and two assists highlights his general deficiency when crossing the ball, something that was never going to sit overly well in a Brian McDermott team. With Nigel Adkins preferring the ball on the deck, it lends itself more to McCleary's style of cutting in and heading towards goal so next year will be an interesting one for the former Forest winger.

Overall an OK debut season but nothing spectacular.

GRADE: C

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Hal Robson-Kanu

Games: 25 Goals: 7 Assists: 1

This was a real breakout season for Robson-Kanu, with his form post Christmas one of the few highlights in a miserable end to the season. While his final delivery is still a problem, he's gotten stronger and stronger and now looks destined for a role as a number 10 rather than as an out-and-out winger.

A return of seven goals in just 25 games and only 13 starts is highly impressive and he's one of the few Reading players to have come out of the campaign with his reputation enhanced.

I only hope he hasn't caught the eye of too many Premier League scouts because he could be a fantastic asset next season.

GRADE: B+

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Jay Tabb

Games: 12 Assists: 1

Tabb was never supposed to start 12 Premier League games, but when injuries struck Tabb gave a good account of himself and put in the type of high energy performances we've become accustomed too from the midfielder.

He wasn't quite Premier League quality but he was steady during a very tough period for the football club. He was binned off out on loan after Akpan was signed and has now left the club but he can look back on his first and possibly last taste of the Premier League with his held very much held high.

GRADE: C

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OVERALL

The fact that the highest grades have been handed out to men who started six and 13 games respectively tells a story in itself. Quite simply the midfield were out of their depth this season, with not one of the consistently showing they belonged in the Premier League. Each of them showed to their abilities at times, but to see nearly 80 starts from McAnuff, Tabb and Leigertwood was painful and highlighted the club's poor transfer decisions in the summer.

Of the new boys they did OK but none really made you think 'he's Premier League quality' they all had flashes of it but none came in and were a cut above what we already had.

There's certainly potential for the future but there's also plenty of work to be done.

Grade: C-

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