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Reading's 2012/13: The good, the bad & the ugly

So the 2012/13 season is finally over and to be honest it's a season that I'll be in a hurry to forget. It wasn't just that we were relegated, no it's more than that. Here's a look at the good the bad & the ugly as we take our first look back at the season.

Richard Heathcote

The Good

Alex McCarthy:

For McCarthy to go from understudy to Adam Federici to an England squad in less than a season is a massive achievement but to have done it after missing five months with a shoulder injury? Even more outstanding.

McCarthy became the first Reading FC academy graduate to be picked for the senior England squad when he was selected by Roy Hodgson earlier this month. You can't say it wasn't deserved because without McCarthy we'd easily be looking at a points total closer to 20 than 30.

His performance against Liverpool was up there with any performance we've seen from a Reading goalkeeper and the only downside to his superb form is that it's lessened the chances of him being here next season.



Of our six wins this season, four came during a wonderful six week period in and around January where Brian McDermott's team scored late goal after late goal to snatch some dramatic results. Whether it was three goals in the final eight minutes to beat West Brom, or Alfie's late strikes to snatch a draw against Chelsea, that spell was easily our best of the season and one of our best months ever in the Premier League. It was so good, that McDermott was named manager of the month, while Adam Le Fondre was being touted for the England squad after five goals from the bench earned him the Premier League Player of the Month award.

As miserable as this campaign has been, we at least had a few brief weeks of joy.


Nigel Adkins:

While it's unfair to judge a manager after just eight games, it's safe to say that Adkins has helped bring back the feel-good factor to the Madejski Stadium. Our levels of possession have slowly been rising and it's nice to see our players with the ball at their feet rather than watching Pog and Alfie chasing shadows all day long as they try and get on the end of another hopeless long ball.

While Adkins has only managed one win so far the team looks like it has some sort of long-term plan behind it and his progressive possession based football should be more pleasing on the eye than what we witnessed under Brian's tenure.


The Bad

The Premier League

Reading managed just six wins in the 2011/12 season.... Six wins. To put that into context, even our last relegated team in 2007/08 managed 10 and no Reading team since the First World War has managed single digit wins. A total of four home wins is also our lowest since The Great War, narrowly piping the relegated side of 87/88 who managed five although at least they saw a win at Wembley.

You want more? Sure why not...

Reading fans have had to sit through two ten game winless spells and one of eight, in fact if you took away the 33 day stretch between the West Ham win and our win over Sunderland, Reading have won just 2 league matches in 32 games.

Written another way, if you paid around £400 for your season ticket, you've paid £100 a win and if you've paid our pre-season estimated £670 for away tickets, it's cost you around £335 plus travel.... Ouch.

At least there's been goals. A home tally of 23 isn't our worst by a long-way although six of those did come in two games with Manchester United and Fulham.


That 7-5....

While an FA Cup defeat at Manchester United is about as acceptable as you can hope for, the League Cup exit at home to Arsenal will rank up there with the most humiliating Reading fans will ever have to sit through. Leading a weakened Arsenal team 4-0, Reading conspired to concede 4 in the final 50 minutes and then blow a 5-5 draw in the dying moments of extra time to lose 7-5. It would have been bad enough had it been the full strength Arsenal team but to lose to their reserves after how shambolic they looked in the first-half.... Well. To compound our misery our path to the final would have been Bradford and Aston Villa, you're unlikely to get as ‘easy' a path to Wembley in a major cup competition.



We've seen worse signings walk through the door (Paul Brayson & Jimmy Crawford anybody?) but generally this crop has to rank amongst the worst a Premier League side has ever recruited.

Adrian Mariappa, Danny Guthrie, Chris Gunter, Stuart Taylor, Garath McCleary, Nicky Shorey and Pavel Pogrebnyak were all recruited to bolster the squad and of that group, only Pogrebnyak and Mariappa have started more than 25 Premier League games this year. What's more as a group they've contributed just ten goals and five clean sheets.

The January signings have possibly been even worse. While undoubtedly signed with the long-term in mind, Daniel Carrico, Nick Blackman and Hope Akpan have started 10 games between them, while only Stephen Kelly can claim to have made a real impact, having started regularly since his signing.

To add to the frustration we've been teased by plenty of big names, some of them far-fetched and others literally thrown out to the fanbase by the club as if to say, well we tried. The biggest tease of them all was the twin January pursuits of Glyfi Sigurdsson and Tom Ince, instead we got Nick Blackman and a crocked Portuguese midfielder. I've nothing against Nick Blackman but he's not a Premier League signing and Daniel Carrico managed less than 90 minutes throughout his five months at the club. With those signings the club might as well have lowered the Premier League flag when the transfer window slammed closed.

Again, that's not to say that our group of signings won't go on to big things and haven't had their moments but as a collective group they've made around the same impact in goals as Tommy Burns' ‘magnificent seven' who managed nine goals between them over the following 12 months.



It's safe to say we've not had the rub of the green this year and while as a Reading fan I'm naturally more inclined to remember the bad decisions, those that were bad were pretty woeful. Whether it's Alfie's penalty not given at United, Ba's handball or Torres' offside goal, big decisions just seemed to go against us this year.

The Ugly

Off-Field problems

For a club that does so much to promote it's family image and team spirit, there were a disappointing number of off-field incidents to generate unwelcome headlines. Whether it was the relatively small embarrassment of Sean Morrison getting caught short by the police, Federici's other half spouting off on Twitter, Danny Guthrie refusing to travel, Jason Roberts reportedly having a bust-up with Brian or the flip-flopping over Alex Pearce and his contract, it just wasn't pleasant.

The ugliest situation of them all is a close tie between our reigning player of the season being dropped for the woefull Gorkss due to off-field issues, or Guthrie's ‘head not being right' before the Sunderland game.


The Sacking of Brian McDermott

The fact that Brian McDermott has lost his job less than a year after masterminding the most unexpected of promotions says it all.

While McDermott is obviously a victim of his era (four of the five division winning managers from 2011/12 were sacked or left their club by the end of this season) His baffling selections, poor man management, odd tactics and random substitutions all helped contribute to his fall from grace.

Despite his failings it was still sad to see Brian leave the club. I personally felt he should have seen out the season and while I can understand his sacking, it's still an undignified and swift exit for a man who served this club for 13 of its most successful years ever.


Fallen Heros

There is little worse than seeing somebody who has given a lot to the club turned on by the fans. Mikele Leigertwood's reception when he was subbed against Villa was appalling and while it's understandable that fans wanted to vent, it showed how short some people's memories are. Likewise the jeers and criticism of players such as Jobi McAnuff and Adam Federici sometimes strayed from the fair comment to a bit nasty and I can't say I thought the atmosphere at the stadium was overly positive this season.

Of course the players and the management are paid to entertain us as fans and I'll never slag off a fan for voicing their criticisms, but at points I just felt it went a little too far and didn't help performances.

Add to that the general slumps of Kaspars Gorkss, Ian Harte, Jason Roberts and Adam Federici and it's sad to see our Championship winning side so cruelly exposed at the top level.



It's probably an article for another day but for me this felt like the worst season I've had supporting Reading over the past 18 years. While the relegation of 1998 was equally pitiful, I can't remember a campaign that was blighted not just with poor form, but off field problems, poor refereeing and such a sharp fall from grace.

To go from Champions to achieving our worst ever post-war points total is strange to say the least and only Sunderland in 2006 can match our record in futility while coming up as Champions.

From the moment it rained on the open-top bus parade things just seemed to go wrong. Whether it was injuries, suspensions, bad signings, bad luck, poor tactics, it all combined to make it an awful season that I'm sure many will want to forget as soon as possible.

We'll have plenty more detailed analysis over the coming weeks, as well as beginning to preview the Championship so please keep checking back or follow the Twitter feed for the latest updates.

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