We’re not world-beaters overnight.
So that terrible Christmas run of form has come to a close; that is still the case despite this loss. But, the new headline of a big promotion pushing run is not quite the reality. Sure, a big win and defensive consistency have edged us back into the play-offs, but that 7-1 victory has not turned us into promotion party crashers (not just yet). Our more direct attacking play could only create chances from long range, and our best attempt in the area was skied by Nick Blackman; that 7 may be an impressive anomaly.
We aren’t really getting the luck.
Granted, this can be seen both ways. I personally think the Bolton penalty (although result-wise irrelevant) was a clear decision, and there are always niggles from either side. However when being turned down a possible stonewall penalty in the first half, then having the opposition winger fortuitously escape a red card at 0-0, it becomes clear we could do with something going our way more often.
Royston is dropping down the pecking order.
Royston Drenthe admitted when he came to the club that he hadn’t really heard of many of the teams he would be playing against. So perhaps having him watch from the bench in losses away at Peterborough, Ipswich etc. does not bode well for morale. Adkins’ trust in Drenthe clearly is low when only one attacking sub is made in a game we are losing. That said he must remain professional, and the renaissance of Captain Jobi Mcanuff and the usual threat of Mccleary (or sub Blackman) put the Dutch winger out the team for pretty fair reasons. Whether this will result in him leaving, kicking up a fuss, or nailing down some hard graft on the training pitch, will decide his short-term future at the club, and perhaps his long-term future in European football.
Home games are more important.
No one likes to get up early, travel the country, sit in the far corner of an old ground, and watch a defeat. Sadly, for Reading’s away fans that has been pretty constant this term. My point is that our home games are the moments where we determine our spot in the league this season. This is because we still have to play some top teams at the Mad Stad in 2014, and thus wins will be great morale boosters that peg rivals back. Also, in the Championship you can almost get away with 3 or 4 points from every 3 or 4 away games, because if you take 10 out of 12 at home you’ll finish in the top 6.
None of our strikers are going to hit 20 goals this season.
By now bringing this pre-season quote up seems petty, but Nigel Adkins claimed at the start of the season each striker needed to score 20 goals for us to reach our ‘target’ of 100 goals. To be fair, it is January and a great run could turn that around, but on an individual basis no one has incredible potential. Pavel Pogrebnyak is a very good striker at this level, but he deals in hold-up play and flick-ons, which puts the majority of his usefulness outside of the box, shown in his generally excellent season, but mere 7 goals. Nick Blackman seems better as a winger, and probably won’t get the time on the pitch to score the 17 required to hit 20. Then there is Adam Le Fondre, who with 3 in 4 starts and 10 overall is most likely to score 20, but I still have my doubts that he can double his tally in less than half a season.