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2011/12 Reading FC Report Card - The Midfield

After looking at the Goalkeepers & Defenders last week, we continue our position by position breakdown of all those that have made an appearance for the Royals this year, with a look at the midfield.

As a quick guide the rankings are from A-E with A being Jimmy Quinn in 1994 and F being like Mark Reilly. Data includes Carling Cup & FA Cup Games and is taken from the Reading OS.

The midseason report card can be viewed here

Jobi McAnuff - Appearances: 42   Goals: 5  Assists: 12    - Midseason Grade: B

McAnuff survived early season questions over his captaincy to lead the team back to the Premier League and earn his first shot in the top division.

Like many others he started the season slowly but the winger improved as the season wore on to become a vital piece of the promotion jigsaw.

Jobi isn't the explosive tricky winger he was a few years ago but his workrate and determination is arguably at the highest it's ever been and while he may not be the most 'talkative' captain, he leads by example and his team mates and manager have always spoken very highly of his influence behind the scenes.

He hasn't got the flair of Jimmy Kebe, nor the physical goal scoring threat of Robson-Kanu but he is still a key part of our attacking options and while he might not have scored as many as he'd have liked this year, he was directly involved in 17 of our 69 goals, or around 25%.

Before this year the enduring image of Jobi's time at Reading might have been his miss at Anfield in the FA Cup two years ago, but now he'll forever be remembered for lifting the Championship Trophy.

Final Grade: A-

Mikele Leigertwood  -  Appearances: 42  Goals:  5  Assists: 1  - Midseason Grade:  B-

Leigertwood was one of the main reasons we made the play-off final last year and this season he proved just as influential. When Leigertwood played well we won games and it's little surprise that the teams slump in form coincided with the former QPR man's worst in a Reading shirt. Leigertwood himself has admitted he could have been deservedly dropped at the start of the year, but over the last three-quarters of the season his steady and assured performances provided the foundations of our surge up the table.

On top of that, one of the most pleasing aspects of Leigertwood's season was the way he managed to chip in with a few more goals this year, none of them more important than the goal that sealed promotion against Nottingham Forest. He also scored against Southampton, Leicester, Blackpool and West Ham, with his strike against Leicester a contender for goal of the season.

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.

Final Grade B+

Pic Courtesy Reading OS

Jem Karacan  -  Appearances: 36  Goals: 3  Assists: 2  -  Midseason Grade:  B

I nominated Karacan for the least improved player of 2012 on the Christmas edition of the Royals Post simply because I didn't feel that the Turkish U21 had really kicked on significantly since making his debut back in 2008.  While never lacking enthusiasm or a tough tackle, I always felt there was more to come from Karacan and that he could well go onto eclipse Steve Sidwell.

Six months later and I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to eat humble pie but what I will say is that Jem has done everything that Brian's needed from him since Christmas. He bounced back from being dropped for Jay Tabb to play an important role alongside Leigertwood up until his unfortunate season ending injury against Leeds.

A return of just three goals, two of which came in one game, and not a single assist after Christmas is disappointing but given his largely defensive remit perhaps that's understandable.

I still hope there's more to come from him but I can't deny he's had a good season, or should I say Flames?

Final Grade B

Hal Robson-Kanu  -  Appearances: 38  Goals: 4  Assists: 4  - Midseason Grade: C+

This season might well go down as a 'lost' season for Robson-Kanu who made nearly 40 appearances but rarely seemed to make a significant impact. The winger had more chances to start that many would have guessed at the beginning of the campaign but managed only two goals in games he started, with one of those from the penalty spot. Furthermore he had just four assists, with only two after Christmas.

I'm not saying he's had an awful season but in all honesty how many fans get excited when he comes on and how many have had their hopes for a win boosted by reading his name in the starting XI?

On the positive side, Robson-Kanu's goal against Millwall won't be forgotten in a hurry and like just about every member of the squad, his work rate and attitude has been exemplary all year.

With Reading earning promotion, plus the signing of Garath McCleary, the Welsh winger is going to find it even harder to get a place in the starting lineup and in my opinion his long-term Premier League prospects might well depend on him spending a season performing week in week out at Championship level.

Final Grade: C

Jimmy Kebe  -  Appearances: 33  Goals: 3  Assists: 10  - Midseason Grade: B-

After the play-off final there was a feeling that Kebe might have to be sold to help balance the books, a prospect that was only strengthened when it was revealed that contract talks with the Malian winger had stalled. Thankfully the TSI agreement convinced Jimmy to sign on the dotted line and he's going to be around the Madejski for a few years to come.

Jimmy will admit he wasn't at his best for most of this season, a campaign full of niggling injuries that restricted him to just 30 starts.  His goals total dipped to it's lowest for three years but he still created 10 and his socks up moment against West Ham during a 3-0 win at the Mad Stad was pure genius.

If he can stay fit, he'll be one of our most important players next season and if he gets back to the sort of form he showed in McDermott's first two seasons, his contract extension could be seen as one of our best ever signings.

Final Grade: B-

Jay Tabb  -  Appearances: 21  Goals: 0  Assists: 1  -  Midseason Grade: C+

Individually it wasn't the luckiest of season's for Jay Tabb, who having forced Jem Karacan out of the starting lineup then got injured away at Burnley.

Some players might have grumbled and demanded a move having been forced to watch on from the bench for so much of the season but not Tabb. The midfielder worked hard all season, always giving 100% when called on. He helped push the team onto a win away at Millwall, gave everything he had in his brief cameo at Upton Park and had a good game at St Mary's as we put one foot in the Premier League.

I don't think he's quite got the ability to play 38 games in the Premier League but if called upon to do a job I'm sure he won't let us down and his versatility is great to have in a 25 man squad.

Final Grade: C

Hayden Mullins  -  Appearances: 7  Goals: 0  Assists: 0  -  Midseason Grade: N/A

Mullins joined from Pompy at the end of the loan window and came straight into the team at right back in a 4-0 demolition of Barnsley,  retaining his place as the Royals slumped 3-1 at Peterborough a few days later. That defeat saw him dropped but injuries to Leigertwood and Karacan saw him come into the centre of the midfield and he played his part in the final few games that saw us over the line.

I don't have much to say on his performances really, they were solid but he doesn't have either the drive of Karacan nor the solidity that Leigertwood gives you.

It seems like he's destined to return to Pompy but he played a key part in getting us over the line and the Reading born boy will always have a fond place in the memories of Reading fans.

Final Grade: C-

Michail Antonio  -  Appearances: 7  Goals: 0  Assists: 0  -  Mideason Grade: N/A

Antonio played in two promotion winning teams this season, playing seven games for Reading in our title triumph and also playing a key role in Sheffield Wednesday's promotion to the Championship.

Reading wise, Antonio showed at times that he's got the talent to at least play at Championship level but his end product was still lacking in his brief times on the pitch for the Royals.

However, the winger has shown during his loan spells at Southampton, Colchester and Sheffield Wednesday that given regular starts he is capable of big things and it's going to be a dilema for Brian McDermott whether to keep Antonio at Reading with one year left on his contract, or sell given an almost certain bid from Sheffield Wednesday.

Does he have the potential to play in the Premier League? Maybe, but I don't think he's quite ready for it now so perhaps for his long term good he might well fancy a move now to make it back in a couple of years time. I'd love to keep him around the place but a good bid and I can see him moving on.

Final Grade: D

Brynjar Gunnarsson  -  Appearances: 5  Goals: 0  Assists: 0  -  Midseason Grade: N/A

The final member of the 2005/06 team still left at the club and it was great to see Brynaldo make a handful of appearances as the season wore down.

As much as I love the bloke I have to say he looked very much a 36 year old during his brief moments on the pitch and sadly his only real impact this year was to give away a penalty up at Birmingham on the final day.

Bryn has said he'd like to stay and I'd be happy to see him around the dressing room and on the training ground passing on his experience but we're in a bit of trouble if he's anywhere near the pitch next season. His versatility means he might be worth a place as the 7th sub but otherwise I think it's time to say thanks for being part of two amazing promotions but you can leave your boots at home.

Final Grade: D-

Tomasz Cywka  -  Appearances: 4  Goals: 0  Assists: 0  -  Midseason Grade: N/A

Cywka came into the club in January as part of the TSI transfer spending and made an immediate impact when he won a penalty against Bristol City on his debut. Another couple of brief cameos followed but when players returned to fitness, Cywka lost his place in the team, making just one further appearance, starting in the 1-0 win at Brighton in April.

Cywka clearly has a bit of skill and trickery while Brian McDermott praised his work rate and attitude when he left the club. Sadly he didn't have quite enough of either to warrant a contract here next year but we wish him well.

Final Grade: D-

Brian Howard made a league cup start and one appearance off the bench in the league but I've covered him in our goodbye article and he leaves with our thanks!

So those are our latest ratings but tell us what you think, who deserves a better grade and who have I been too kind with?

So that's part 1 of our player by player review, but what do you think? Let us know your thoughts below.