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Reading FC 2014/15 Report Cards: Central Midfielders

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After Marc took a look at the goalkeepers and defenders, Wimb casts an eye on how Reading FC's central midfielders performed in 2014/15.

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*while players such as Jordan Obita and Hal Robson-Kanu have played for spells in the middle, we'll be looking at players whose primary position is through the middle. Stats are for league games only.

Nathan Ake

Appearances: 5  Goals: 0  Average Rating:7.00

Showed his potential at both left-back and in the middle during his brief stint on loan from Chelsea. A player with a massive future in the game and I'm sure Steve Clarke will do his best to bring him back should Jose Mourinho want him to get further seasoning.

Grade: B

*****

Hope Akpan

Appearances: 19 Goals: 0  Avg Rating: 6.12

There's still Hope for young Akpan who at 23 still has his best years ahead of him but there's not been a massive amount of progress since his arrival in January 2013. The Nigerian International always puts in a solid performance in the Leigertwood style but unlike the former Championship winner, Akpan doesn't quite have the presence or composure just yet. His attacking and creative threat is minimal but were it not for a couple of ill-timed injuries he might well have had a better campaign, with his final average rating of 6.13 one of the highest of our midfield core.

Grade: C

*****

Nathaniel Chalobah

Appearances: 15 Goals: 1 Avg Rating: 6.07

Clearly a classy midfielder destined for bigger things, Chalobah added a real touch of quality when he arrived on loan from Chelsea at the turn of the year. Bringing composure and an excellent range of passing to the Madejski, the England U21 international was a key part of the side that reached Wembley in the FA Cup. However, Chalobah often looked overly casual in the league and there were times where that attitude gave the opposition decent opportunities on goal.

Still, I'd love to see him back and I'm sure those motivation issues would be less of a problem if he was in a well functioning and effective side. I doubt Chelsea will want him to spend another year in the Championship but if so he's welcome back here.

Grade: B

*****

Danny Guthrie

Appearances: 9 Goals: 0 Avg Rating: 5.63

Enough energy has been wasted lamenting the over-paid and under-delivering Guthrie on these pages over the past three seasons and the best thing I can now write is that we've seen the back of him. Danny was injured for most of this season but even when fit he made minimal impact in a very ordinary side. Shipped off to Fulham at the end of the loan window, few Royals fans will be sad to see him go.

Grade: E

*****

Jem Karacan

Appearances: 8 Goals: 1 Avg Rating: 6.43

Just seeing the Club Captain back on the pitch was a brilliant moment in an otherwise lacklustre campaign however we're yet to really see if the 'old' Karacan is back. He had his moments, not least with a cracking strike up at Watford but after an 18-month injury nightmare it's unfair to really judge his performances on normal standards. The Turkish midfielder is now out of contract so it'll be interesting to see if Clarke has seen enough to think he's worth a new long-term deal as right now Jem seems unwilling to commit on a short-term basis.

Grade: C+

*****

Aaron Kuhl

Appearances: 6 Goals: 0 Avg Rating: 6.00

Burst on to the scene with plenty of promise against Huddersfield but slowly faded after that. The Reading Academy graduate did enough to win your Tilehurst End Player of the Month vote back in August but as others returned to fitness, the 19-year-old saw his first-team chances dwindle. Clearly a player to look out for in the future, Kuhl was recently picked for England's U19 squad and should Karacan not agree a new deal, he could well see plenty more action next season.

Grade: C

*****

Oliver Norwood

Appearances: 32 Goals: 1 Avg Rating: 6.05

Norwood's signing looked a master stroke in 2014, as the midfielder put in a consistent run of excellent displays that saw him win our Player of the Month vote three times in four months. Yet while the arrival of Steve Clarke seemed to help others, it proved a negative impact for Norwood who was soon dropped in favour of Nathaniel Chalobah. The Northern Irishman did get a few more chances as the season wore on, scoring a great goal at Rotherham but he's got a big summer ahead to prove to Clarke that he deserves a more regular place.

Grade: B-

*****

Danny Williams

Appearances: 25 Goals: 1 Avg Rating: 5.91

Injuries once again disrupted the American's season, with Williams only able to feature in just over half of the Championship campaign. That stopped the midfielder being able to get into any sort of rhythm but we still saw flashes of the player who won so much praise last season and he won our February Player of the Month vote after impressing in wins over Wolves & Ipswich. Williams is apparently one of the top earners at the football club and with this being his final year we'll need to see much more from him to justify an extension at his current rate but fortunately, Danny has that potential in his locker IF he does stay injury free.

Grade: C+

Others

The only other player to make a league appearance in the middle was Aaron Tshibola who while making no real impact in his minutes at Nottingham Forest, did help Hartlepool pull off a remarkable great escape in League Two that'll mean he'll never be short for a pint in the North East!

Summary

The centre of the midfield wasn't a key problem area in a weak team but the injury problems suffered by Akpan, Guthrie, Karacan, Williams and even Chalobah really derailed any attempts by Adkins or Clarke to build a settled partnership or trio. Goals were also a major point of concern with none of the players listed scoring more than a single goal which just isn't good enough at this level. Only Kuhl, Williams, Norwood and Akpan are under contract heading into 2015/16 so we're almost certain to see reinforcements arrive.

Grade: B-

REPORT CARD GRADES

POSITION GRADE
Goalkeepers A
Defenders C-
Central Midfielders B-
Wingers C-
Forwards C-