23 games gone and our form has certainly started to kick on. After a sluggish start we're now sitting in sixth place and the dreaded P word is being quietly whispered on the concourse. So at this midway point in the league season I thought I'd take a quick look at each player and give them a grade from A to F.
Please feel free to comment below.
Adam Federici: Games 23 Clean Sheets 9
Federici was linked with a move over the summer and has been in the unfortunate position of having two very good young keepers at the club that many fans would prefer to see in the side. Despite that Federici has quietly had perhaps his best six months in a Reading shirt, pulling off some great saves and becoming one of just three players to have started every game this season. He's not been perfect and the odd mistake still happens, but by and large he's proved himself a good keeper at this level and a key part of the side.
Alex McCarthy: Games 1 Clean Sheets 0
McCarthy has had to endure a frustrating start to the campaign as understudy to Adam Federici, with his only appearance in a Reading shirt coming in a Carling Cup defeat at Charlton. Despite the team losing four league games around that defeat, McCarthy still couldn't dislodge the Australian and has spent the past six weeks on loan with Leeds, where he's impressed United fans. Brian McDermott is adament that the England U21 stopper won't be sold but there's only so long he'll be happy being second choice.
Andy Griffin: Games 7 Goals 0 Assists 1
Griffin came into the season off the back of probably his worst appearance in a Reading shirt, at Wembley. To make things worse he started the season with injury problems and was in and out of the side in the opening few games because of it. Even when declared fully fit Griffin struggled to find any consistency and the veteran full-back found himself out of the team and out of the squad after Reading's fifth straight defeat at home to Watford. Griffin wasn't seen again until injuries to left backs Joe Mills and Ian Harte forced him into emergency left-back duty at Leeds where Griffin produced a solid display in his first taste of first team football for over three months. He continued in that role against Brighton and two wins and two clean sheets means that Brian will have a real selection headache when Mills and Harte are both fully fit. Overall though it's still been a disappointing campaign for the former Stoke man and his future at the club beyond this season has to be in question.
Ian Harte: Games 10+2 Goals 0 Assists 4
Like Griffin, Ian Harte had ended last season with a poor game at Wembley, when Swansea's wingers made the Ireland full-back look hopelessly slow. Still Harte started the season as first choice at left back but his only major contribution in the opening few games was a missed penalty against Barnsley and an error against Hull that had McDermott publicly criticise the defender. Harte was soon dumped in favour of new signing Joseph Mills but when Mills was injured before the Ipswich game the former Leeds man took his chance and helped create two goals in a late win at Portman Road, before following that up with a hand in another goal three days later against Peterborough. Sadly just when it looked as if Harte had settled back into the team he picked up a bug before a game against his former team Leeds and now has to try and displace Andy Griffin at left back as well as Mills when he returns to full fitness.
Shaun Cummings: Games 18+1 Goals 0 Assists 0
18 months ago Shaun Cummings nearly left the club to move to Brighton with many fans calling him the worst defender to ever play for the club. Fast forward to today and Cummings could very well be in with a shout for player of the season after a string of fine performances that have helped make him one of the first names on the team sheet. With Cummings starting the team have lost just three times and the former Chelsea youngster has held off the challenge of Andy Griffin and Brynjar Gunnarsson to make the position his to lose. The only slight criticism might be a lack of top quality crosses or assists but his solid defending has allowed whichever winger is in front of him the confidence to get forward and hurt the opposition so he's done his job.
Joseph Mills: Games 12+2 Goals 0 Assists 1
Have to hold my hands up here and say that I gave Mills a bit of stick after his first few games here. The defender seemed a bit unsure of himself, with a couple of mistakes against Bristol City and Derby and a dubious set piece record not helping his case. As the games wore on though and the team gelled, Mills' performance grew in quality and at the time of his injury the brother of our former Captain had nicely settled himself into a team that was moving up the table. I still have doubts over whether he'll truly establish himself as a top left back in the Championship but he's certainly reliable and won't hurt you if he's in the team. Room for improvement but I'm happy to hold my hands up and say he's already answered a fair few of his critics.
Bongani Khumalo: Games 5 Goals 0 Assists 0
While he's picked up a fair amount of stick from Reading fans after a far from amazing five games following his loan move from Spurs, I think we may have been a little too harsh on the South African International. Certainly he wasn't the answer to Matt Mills' departure and he hardly set the world on fire in those five appearance but then he was part of a team who were all struggling in August and given a few more games he could have proved, that like Joe Mills, some players just need time to settle. That being said I'm not going to miss the guy when he inevitably returns to Tottenham next month.
Alex Pearce: Games 23 Goals 2 Assists 0
Alongside Mikele Leigertwood and Adam Federici, Pearce is the only other player to have started every league game this year and its a credit to Alex that he's kept his place and completed his first full half season at Reading since breaking into the team three years ago. I wrote in the pre-season that he was primed to make himself a key part of the side and he's done just that, forming a key partnership with Kaspars Gorkks that has seen the team lose just three times since the end of September. Pearce has also chipped in with a couple of goals and it's easy to forget that he's still just 23 years old. He's still got a few things to improve on though, with his distribution still a bit wayward and his heading not amazing. He''s still the weaker of the centre-back pairing but all in all the future certainly looks bright for the former vice-captain.
Kaspars Gorkss: Games 19 Goals 1 Assists 0
Gorkks has been arguably Brian McDermott's best signing with the Latvian centre-back forming a key part of the side that has kept 8 clean sheets in his 19 games. Gorkks has a decent left foot, is composed on the ball and strong in the air, and together with Alex Pearce, Reading now have a strong defensive foundation with which to build on for the future. The defender has proved himself more than capable of replacing Matt Mills and many would argue Gorkks is even better than the man who's transfer fee was five times the million Reading paid QPR for his services. The only slight knock would be a few too many long balls but it's really nitpicking what has been a splendid start to his Reading career.
Also featured: Sean Morrison (1 game)
Jobi McAnuff: Games 22 Goals 3 Assists 6
McAnuff was made captain over the summer to replace Matt Mills and his appointment wasn't universally liked by all Reading fans, fans who's fears seemed well founded after a poor start to the season for both the player and the team. But like the team, McAnuff has improved as the games have ticked by with his double against Brighton capping off what has overall been a good season couple of months for the winger. McAnuff isn't the explosive pacy winger he may have once been but he does a good job playing on the left which is not his natural side. The players have consistently praised his influence in the dressing room and an on pitch return of 3 goals and 6 assists is a good contribution at this level. He'll be the first to admit he should probably have a few more goals but again it's been a decent season for the former Palace man.
Hal Robson-Kanu: Games 10+12 Goals 3 Assists 2
HRK came into the season being groomed to play as a striker only to revert to wing duties after the arrival of Adam Le Fondre at the end of August. The Welsh international has again impressed when coming off the bench and has bagged three times this year including key goals at Leicester and Bristol City, but still he's not really impressed when given a starting role. Jimmy Kebe's injury problems opened a big door for the guy but he didn't quite grasp it and he's once again gone back to being a good impact sub. He's certainly got the quality but it's consistency that he'll need to find to stick around in the starting lineup.
Jimmy Kebe: Games 15+3 Goals 1 Assists 6
It's hard to give Kebe a grade because on the basis of the West Ham game you'd say this was an A Grade player but in other games you'd wonder if you could dip below F... Jimmy hasn't quite lived up to the standard of the previous season and a half but then he's not been as bad as you think either. Kebe will be annoyed (if Jimmy ever gets annoyed...) that he's only scored once this year but he's still created 6 goals in an injury hit season and is showing signs that he may be getting back to his best. His on pitch performances can't have been helped by his contract ramblings and it's still possible that we may soon see the Malian leave the club, but as he showed against West Ham, when he pulls his socks up he's a real weapon and a fully in form Kebe could be the key to another promotion push.
Mikele Leigertwood: Games 23 Goals 1 Assists 1
It's hard to beleive now but just a couple of months ago some were wondering whether Leigertwood should be dropped following a poor start to the season. The former QPR man looked a shell of the man who had turned our season around last year and you had to wonder if signing a permanent deal had caused him to lose a bit of his edge. Thankfully he's recovered from a slow start and no surprise that our form and results have also improved.
Jem Karacan: Games 18+1 Goals 1 Assists 2
On the most recent Royals Post podcast I nominated Jem for the least impressive player of the year and I did so not because Jem's had a bad year but more because the Turkish midfielder is not really kicking on the way we might have hoped. Jonny Fordham made the point that he's doing the job that Brian McDermott wants him to do and that is fair, as are people who point out James Harper got the same criticism despite being a massive part of a successful side. Despite that I still think there's more to come from Jem and I'd love to see him develop into a 7-10 goal a season man who gambles a bit more with runs into the penalty area. Ambitions and development aside Jem's done what's been asked of him and won us 3 big points with a late goal at Burnley, so we can't be unhappy with his contribution to date.
Brynjar Gunnarsson: Games 1+1 Goals 0 Assists 0
Hard to fault a guy who's 36 and has been such a good servant but Gunnarsson has been a bit of a non factor this season. He's struggled with injury and has been limited to just one start but you know that if he's needed you'll get a solid 7/10 from the guy.
Jay Tabb: Games 6+2 Goals 0 Assists 1
Tabb looked to have nailed down a regular starting spot until he was knocked for 6 at Burnley, something that was made worse on a personal level by the fact that the man who replaced him, Jem Karacan, scored a dramatic winner in that very game. Tabby hasn't made much of an impact in the final third but is another dependable player who won't let you down and has played well in his few games this year.
Also featured: Brian Howard (1+1 games) Jordan Obita (1 game) Michail Antonio (+3 games)
Mathieu Manset: Games 5+11 Goals 3 Assists 1
The beast has once again shown flashes of brilliance, single handidly rescuing us a point against Millwall on the opening day that teased us into thinking he was going to have a break out season. He followed that up with a good game at Leicester and a brilliant back heeled winner at Bristol City but since then there's been little to talk about from the Beast, who's also had a niggling injury problem. The concern since he's arrived at the club has been his ability to impact the game as a starter but sadly he's done little to allay those worries, with no goals in his five starts this season. He's still young though and has only been at the club less than a year so I think most fans would settle for him to get fit and make an impact as a sub for the rest of the season, he's certainly got the skills now he just needs to kick on.
Noel Hunt: Games 12+7 Goals 3 Assists 1
Hunt came into the season off the back of his first full pre-season in three years and with the responsibility of being the senior striker at the club. Sadly for Noel he's struggled to get a regular starting place and he's also been farmed out to the wing a number of times, limiting his ability to get on the score sheet. He has scored a handfull of goals this season, but a return of 3 goals and 1 assist in 19 appearances won't sit well with the Irishman who would have been hoping for a big campaign to force himself back into the international fold. Hunt is once again struggling with an injury right now and with the Church/Le Fondre partnership working well he's going to have to bide his time for another start.
Simon Church: Games 15+5 Goals 6 Assists 0
Church was another one who came into this year with a point to prove. After a breakout season in 2009/10 Churchy took a backward step last year, struggling for any sort of form and looking devoid of confidence. This season started little better, but Church was given a surprise start at home to Doncaster and looked back to the form of 18 months beforehand playing the 'Long' role reasonably well. Sadly the form didn't quite stick and he's once again been in and out of the side, with his form fluctuating accordingly. The past few games have been better though, with four goals in the last five games including a great winner at Leeds and he now sits atop the goalscoring charts on 6 going into the final game of the year. Like Pearce it's easy to forget how young Church still is, but the next six months could go a long way to determining if he's going to be the answer long term up front or if he's destined to be a squad player.
Adam Le Fondre: Games 15+3 Goals 5 Assists 3
Le Fondre joined at the end of the transfer window and the former Rochdale striker has made a smooth transition to life in the second tier, finding the net 5 times in just 15 starts and chipping in with another 3 assists. Some of his finishes have been quite superb and he's done a lot of work around the area creating space and holding the ball up well. He's not quite the finished article quite yet and he does have the odd quiet game and miss a few big chances, but by and large he's proving a steal at £350,000.
Also featured: Shane Long (1 game)
A Cummings, Gorkks
B+ Federici, Le Fondre
B Pearce, McAnuff, Karacan
B- Mills, Kebe, Leigertwood, Church
C+ Harte, Robson-Kanu, Tabb
C McCarthy, Manset, Hunt,
So that's about it. We'll be doing a round table early in January with some thoughts on the second half of the season so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile if you want to argue any of the above ratings please feel free to comment below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter.