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Reading FC Report Cards 2015/16: Defenders

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It wasn't an easy year to be a Reading defender but who stood out and who makes a lousy case for the defence?

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So our 2015/16 Reading FC report cards rolls on to the defence. You can check out how we graded the goalkeepers here.

Also before we dive in, these grades are based on a very non-scientific set of criteria that includes expectation levels, experience, team performance, individual displays and average ratings. Likewise and while the defence as a whole was often poor it's pretty tricky to pick on individuals for collective mistakes, hence why the grades might be a bit higher than you'd perhaps some would expect. Similarly, as good or dependable as some have been, you can't ignore the collective responsibility towards an underwhelming unit.

Chris Gunter

2014/15 Grade: B
Appearances: 52 - TTE Average Rating: 6.1 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 2

A steady presence in a generally unsteady defence it's hard to say much more than Gunter had yet another solid season at Madejski Stadium. The Wales right-back did pretty much what he's always done, providing athletic defending and the odd marauding run but without ever really standing out above the pack.

Yet there's merit to the idea that as a senior figure he maybe could have done more to stop the slide of the team and that ultimately his end product wasn't quite up to standards you'd expect.

Gunter clocked up an impressive 48 consecutive appearances before a late-season niggle and his average of 6.1 was somewhat hurt by being played out of position in the closing couple of games. Earned himself a new contract and has made the most Reading appearances of any player left at the club.

Grade: C+

Slight decline on last season but generally solid and dependable.

*****

Andrew Taylor

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 23 - TTE Average Rating: 5.8 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 0

Signed to give the club competition for Jordan Obita at left-back, Taylor was generally a decent steady influence but lacked any real flair or attacking threat. He didn't let himself down but did little to suggest he deserves to make his loan spell from Wigan permanent.

Grade: D+

Probably got more of a chance than he expected due to Obita's poor form but failed to grasp that chance.

*****

Paul McShane

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 40 - TTE Average Rating: 6.2 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 2

The new club captain enjoyed a good start to life at the club but like many, he tailed off towards the end of the campaign and his final defining moment came in the shape of an on-field bust-up with Danny Williams that saw the pair suspended for three-games each.

His partnership with Anton Ferdinand showed real promise but he was less effective alongside the younger Jake Cooper and Michael Hector. He's never been a prolific scorer but to only manage one league goal was also a little disappointing and helped sum up our general struggles from set pieces.

Still, McShane has oozed passion and generally been the standout performer in the back four this season so can be fairly satisfied with his efforts.

Grade: B-

Good first campaign from the Captain but you feel there's more to come.

*****

Jordan Obita

2014/15 Grade: B+
Appearances: 30 - TTE Average Rating: 5.7 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 0

Another very underwhelming season for Obita who's failed to progress from his breakthrough campaign two years ago. Jordan was named the winner of theTTE Podcast's #Hal Robson-Kanu' Underachiever award for 2015 and the left-back did little to shake that tag in his appearances after Christmas.

He was far from awful but really did little above the minimum.

Obita has said previously how he sees himself in an attack role eventually but the fact he saw his assist tally fall from 7 to just one, despite taking a fair few set pieces doesn't exactly support his case. Next year could be a real make or break campaign for a man who'll turn 23 during next season.

Grade: C-

Seems to be going sideways and is in danger of failing to realise early potential.

*****

Anton Ferdinand

2014/15 Grade: E-
Appearances: 24 - TTE Average Rating: 6.3 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 1

Was tipped by many to make a real impact this season and for a couple of months those predictions seemed to be coming true as Anton formed a good partnership alongside Paul McShane. Ferdinand got given a 7/10 rating in six of his first seven appearances but once again fell victim to niggling injuries that saw him drift in and out of the team. In all Ferdinand will leave Reading with just 26 appearances in two seasons, which is even more frustrating when you consider that generally he's impressed in those games.

A younger fitter version of Ferdinand would be excellent at the football club but then a player of that quality likely wouldn't be in Reading's financial range....

Grade: C+

Classy when fit but once again unfit and unavailable a little too often.

*****

Jake Cooper

2014/15 Grade: B
Appearances: 30 - TTE Average Rating: 5.7 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 1

After a bright first season, the realities of life as a Championship defender began to sink in for Cooper in his sophomore campaign. Growing pains are to be expected of a man who hasn't played senior football below the Championship but sadly one of those pains saw him give away a penalty in the biggest game of the season against Crystal Palace.

Cooper's clearly got potential but it'll be a few years before we can really say just how good he's going to be. Right now he's serviceable at Championship level but he was part of a winning defence just six times in the league this season and was part of an underwhelming defensive unit.

Grade: C

Has work to do to become a reliable Championship defender but generally held his own in difficult circumstances.

*****

Michael Hector

2014/15 Grade: A
Appearances: 35 - TTE Average Rating: 6.1 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 3

I had a tricky time deciding whether to grade him with the defenders or midfielders but ultimately he came into the year as a defender so that's where he'll stay.

Hector got his dream move at the end of the summer window with a £4m move to Chelsea but returned to Reading on loan where he showed both why he commanded such a hefty fee but likewise why Reading might just have got a good deal. He was a big part of the team that stormed its way up to second in October but his form dropped off dramatically over Christmas before he was redeployed as a holding midfielder by Brian McDermott. Hector seemed to be more comfortable in the middle of the park, where his sometimes casual approach wasn't punished as much and earned good reviews but a formation switch and his impending departure saw his game time limited as the season wound down.

Grade: C+

Showed his potential and class but also demonstrated why he's not quite the finished article just yet.

*****

Overall grade: C

Individually most were competent but singular moments of inexperience or poor decision making cost the team when it mattered. Some good players to build around but younger ones need to improve fast if Reading are to challenge the top six.