Garath McCleary scored against SC Olhanense and Bristol Rovers and put in a glistening display against Bristol City, but he discusses how he still needs to improve, pinpointing getting more "goalscoring opportunities" as the key way to do this. The winger claims this mindset is the best to have as there is "a lot of competition" and each player has "got to be on it week in, week out" to earn their place in the starting 11.
After being relegated with FC Alania from the Russian Premier League last year, Royston Drenthe was available on on a free transfer and snapped up by Nigel Adkins. Drenthe is eager to reignite his career in English football having previously impressed on loan from Real Madrid at Everton. Drenthe believes he can bring everything he learnt at Madrid from the likes of Guti and Cannavaro and put them into effect at Reading. He has signed a two year deal and as great admirer of English football, he sees it as a privilege to be back playing here.
A Get Reading fan survey reveals that the strongest message we as supporters want to send to the club is to hold onto goalkeeping starlet Alex McCarthy. Adam Le Fondre was also a player that Reading fans strongly want to see remain at the club, along with being the player the majority of voters trust to take our spot kicks. Amongst many interesting questions, Adrian Mariappa was deemed fittest to be our captain, with current skipper Jobi McAnuff receiving the second most votes for this role, and our strike force was the area most fans claim requires strengthening. Possibly the most telling answer was that the majority of voters believe we will finish this season in the play-off positions.
Along with Nigel Adkins and our assistant manager Andy Crosby, Dean Wilkins left Southampton when Adkins was controversially sacked half way through last season. He linked up with Adkins and Crosby again when he was appointed as a coach at Reading during pre-season, after having time out from football due to a foot operation. Wilkins believes pre-season has allowed him to get to grips with our squad and he is striving to get every player to maximise their potential this season. If he achieves this goal, he claims we'll be in for a fantastic season. Wilkins also discusses his coaching technique, claiming that getting to know the players individually and showing them video analysis is the recipe for success.
A couple of positive results and a successful pre-season tour in Portugal was quickly ousted by three pre-season defeats to Bristol City, Swansea City and Bristol Rovers. Adkins put our heavy 3-0 loss to Swansea down to being outclassed by a team who could pass the ball quickly and hold on to it in a good formation. He insists that we won't come up against this class of opposition in the Championship and claims that there are many positives to take from the game, one of which was Hal Robson-Kanu's first run out if pre-season after signing a contract extension. Adkins also believes the Swansea game has further highlighted areas we need to continue improving on to set ourselves up for a successful season. As for the Bristol Rovers game, Reading named a number of youngsters in the squad and Adkins emphasises the importance this experience will have for them as members of the first team squad this season. Adkins concludes his summary of pre-season by claiming it is fundamentally about fitness and rotating positions and formations to stand us in good stead for the opening league games.
Reading ended their pre-season campaign with three successive losses, whereas Saturday's league opponents Ipswich won six of their seven pre-season games, and drew the other. Nevertheless, Karacan says the squad should not be too disheartened from the disappointing end to pre-season and says Adkins is still putting his stamp on the squad which will take time.
After being banished to the sidelines under Brian McDermott, Danny Guthrie claims he has learnt from Nigel Adkins and become a much better player. Guthrie says he always felt he had the "technical ability" but now has some "nous" to go with it, as well as a greater understanding of the game. The midfielder also feels he has a responsibility to help our young midfielders to learn their trade, and Guthrie's experience does make him appropriate to do so. He has played 103 times in the Premier League for Liverpool, Bolton, Newcastle and Reading and already has a Championship winners medal, having been part of a Newcastle team that won it in 2010. Interestingly, Guthrie is keen to point out that relegation was hard to take last year and the Championship is not the league he wants to be in. He emphasises how "tough" it is to get out of and insists he is firmly focused on promotion in a side he believes is capable of doing "something a little bit special".