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Reading FC 2015/16 Report Cards: Midfield

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While both the goalkeepers and defenders escaped with average enough ratings, how did Reading's midfield match up in our latest report cards.

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Today it's Reading FC's men in the middle that come under the microscope for their 2015/16 efforts. You can check out how the goalkeepers defence matched up.

George Evans

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 6 - TTE Average Rating: 5.2 -  Readers' MOTM: 0

Evans arrived with a fair bit of hype from Manchester City's Academy and with praise from Walsall fans where he'd spent the first half of the campaign on loan. While given an immediate chance to impress against Sheffield Wednesday, Evans would only feature once in the next 16 games before a late run in the side due in large part to Danny Williams suspension.

The 21-year-old did show some nice touches and that he's not afraid to go for goal but a little bit like many a Reading midfielder in recent seasons, you weren't quite sure what his best role in the side was and where his true strengths lay. He's got age on his side and a full pre-season will do him wonders but from a pure 2015/16 point of view he was a bit of a bust and didn't actually feature on a winning side, perhaps one reason he finished bottom of our player ratings with an average of just 5.2/10.

Grade: D

Has plenty of time to prove himself but a very underwhelming introduction.

*****

Oliver Norwood

2014/15 Grade: B-
Appearances: 50 - TTE Average Rating: 6.00 -  Readers' MOTM: 6

There was an odd sense of deja-vu with Norwood as once again the midfielder started the season as one of the standout performers before a change in management and system derailed his campaign. Olly was voted your TTE Player of the Month for both November and December and his 15 goals & assists were only bettered by Nick Blackman so on paper he's certainly one of the team's better performers. So why is there a nagging feeling that he didn't have quite as good a season as the stats suggest?

Maybe it's his generally underwhelming set pieces or inability to play a 'killer ball' down the middle but I think we've now seen the flaws in Olly's game and when the team is playing badly, those flaws only grow more noticeable. I think much like a Marek Matejovsky, Norwood needs the right system and players around him to thrive, rather than bringing the best out of those alongside him. That's not necessarily a bad thing but when resources are limited or your manager has a different idea of how the team should play, it can cause problems.

Still, you can't take away from the fact Norwood had a good campaign overall and there's a good reason he's part of a team heading to Euro 2016 and is being linked with a Premier League move.

Grade: B-

As you were for Norwood who was on course for an B+ in the first-half but just slipped towards the end.

*****

Garath McCleary

2014/15 Grade: C+
Appearances: 38- TTE Average Rating: 6.00 -  Readers' MOTM: 1

Here's what Bucks wrote in last year's report card...

On paper, Garath McCleary is one of our best players but, like several other players in the squad, injury hit him hard in the early stages of the season. Looked rusty and out of shape in the final weeks of Nigel Adkins' time at the club, but a long-term injury makes that fairly understandable.

Despite some promising early performances under Steve Clarke (Fulham being the main example), he didn't hit the heights this season that he did in 2013/14. Reading lacked creativity greatly this season - with McCleary seriously lacking the spark that so endeared him to the fans last year. A poor campaign, but he does at least have the excuse of an enforced slow start due to injury.

It was a similar story this season for GMac who is still struggling to find the magic he showed during the final few months of the 2013/14 season. The winger contributed towards just five goals all season and ended the campaign at full-back. Approaching 30 and with injuries starting to pile up, he's running out of time to return to the McCleary of old.

Grade: C-

A grade that reflects his talent levels more than anything. We know he's capable of so much more.

*****

Lucas Piazon

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 27 - TTE Average Rating: 5.4 -  Readers' MOTM: 0

A player who was once tipped as the next big thing out of Brazil but by the end of his time here I'd say he's a poor second to a packet of Brazil nuts. The Chelsea loanee did show some flashes of brilliance and had a good finish on him but he lacked the physical presence or the mental skills to adapt to the English second-tier. An average rating of just 5.4 from 27 appearances tells the story.

Grade: D+

Would have been a useful option in a side with a solid backbone but lacked the strength and toughness needed when times got tough.

*****

Aaron Tshibola

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 16 - TTE Average Rating: 6.2  -  Readers' MOTM: 1

An impressive first season in the first team for Tshibola who was part of a side that looked set to contend for automatic promotion before he went down injured. Whether a fit Tshibola would have prevented the epic collapse over Christmas is questionable but he certainly impressed during his 16 appearances and his return should be a big plus for Brian McDermott who only got to use him for a fleeting few minutes before injury struck him down again.

Grade: B

One of the most promising Academy products we've seen debut in recent seasons and at 21 has the ability to be a top, top player.

*****

Stephen Quinn

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 33 - TTE Average Rating: 6.3  -  Readers' MOTM: 5

Ahhhh Quinn. As TTE Podcast listeners know, it's hard for me to be objective when it comes to the former Hull midfielder but I'll put my professional hat on and give it a go.

His energy and dynamism were key parts of the side that started the season so well and his injury alongside Tshibola and Robson-Kanu were big reasons why for me, the season slipped away from us. Quinn returned at left-back and performed admirably before drifting in and out of the side as the season wound down. The second-half didn't live up to the first but he's got the character we need to help build a driven, hungry squad.

Grade: B-

Promising start to life at Madejski Stadium but will need to find a position to really call his own if he's to earn a regular spot under McDermott.

*****

Alex Fernandez

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 10 - TTE Average Rating: 6.2  -  Readers' MOTM: 1

If I was grading simply based on social media output and being a nice bloke, Fernandez would be an easy A+ but sadly he was getting paid to play Championship football....

The former Real Madrid youngster came with a promising CV but was rarely used despite numerous injuries to central midfielders. When he did play he looked decent enough but didn't do anything to suggest he'd be an upgrade on Williams, Quinn, Tshibola or Norwood.

Grade: D+

We need to stop signing players who've played for this Real Madrid team I keep hearing about.

*****

Danny Williams

2014/15 Grade: C+
Appearances: 46 - TTE Average Rating: 5.9  -  Readers' MOTM: 3

101... that's the number of shots Danny Williams took for his seven goals last season. For comparison, Matej Vydra had 40 and Hal Robson-Kanu 47. The wastefulness of that statistic sums up Williams' season if not his career at Reading Football Club. When he did hit the net it was spectacular, with his goal against Blackburn getting nominated for Championship goal of the season but when he missed, Danny made a good case to suggest he'd have kept London Irish in the Premiership.

The USA International set up just two goals all season, and contributing to just nine goals when you're playing 46 and in the side as an attacking midfielder just isn't really up to scratch, especially when you're reportedly the club's highest paid player.

Grade: C

Average campaign from a player who's being paid to be much more than average.

*****

Ola John

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 33 - TTE Average Rating: 6.0 -  Readers' MOTM: 2

Ola came to Berkshire with a reputation as one of Europe's top young wingers and while we got tantalising glimpses into why Benfica paid around 10 million euros for him, those moments just didn't come often enough. Fitness seemed to be John's biggest enemy and he was only named in a Championship starting lineup eight times during his time here. That's not good enough, and while having a good impact sub is a very useful weapon, you expected more from Ola.

Still, he did get fans off their feet and was 1/2 of the most entertaining song of the season so credit where its due.

Grade: C

Let himself down with poor fitness but had the ability to excite in small doses.

*****

OTHERS

17-year-old Josh Barrett was one of the few enjoyable performances on a miserable last home game of the season against Preston and his rapid rise is certainly one to keep an eye on. Paolo Hurtado arrived with plenty of hype but showed nothing in his six appearances before leaving on loan.

*****

Overall Grade: C-

There just wasn't enough creativity in the Reading midfield last season, with the wingers in particular having a season to forget. In McCleary, Hurtado, Piazon & John the club should have had a set of wingers to be feared but instead we had so few options we ended the season playing a diamond.

The centre of the park was solid but Danny Williams lacked end product and Olly Norwood faded as the season progressed.