clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Reading FC 2015/16 Report Cards: Forwards

New, comments

From Blackman to Vydra, Sa to Cox, who stood out and who missed the target among Reading's forwards last season?

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Today it's Reading FC's men at the business end that come under the microscope for their 2015/16 efforts. You can also check out how the goalkeepersdefencemidfield got on.

Nick Blackman

2014/15 Grade: C-
Appearances: 28 - TTE Average Rating: 6.4  - Readers' MOTM: 6

It took him two-and-a-half years but Nick Blackman finally showed us why he was a million pound striker, after a scintillating run of form to start the season that saw the forward grab ten goals in as many games to help launch Reading into the top two.

Agree with Wimb's grades? Disagree? Leave us a comment below.

Sadly, neither Blackman nor the team could keep that form up and the former Blackburn man would only bag twice more before leaving for Derby for a fee around the £3.5m mark. Blackman is yet to open his account in Derby colours so for now, Reading have certainly got the better end of the deal, although would having a firing Blackman in the side have prevented the dramatic slide post Christmas?

Grade: B

Cracking run of form with some brilliant strikes but his performances were showing worrying signs before profitable move.

*****

Yann Kermorgant

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 17 - TTE Average Rating: 5.7 - Readers' MOTM: 2

The signing of a 34-year-old to replace your young, recently peaking top scorer was always going to raise eyebrows and while Kermorgant did his best to win over the skeptics, he was hardly put into an ideal environment. We certainly saw flashes of excellent link-up play, while the Frenchman was in top form during the 4-3 win at Charlton but otherwise we didn't see the consistent excellence that won the hearts of Bournemouth fans.

Just three goals in 17 appearances was a poor return but five assists hints at what he could do if put alongside the right striker next season.

Grade: C

*****

Orlando Sa

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 21 - TTE Average Rating: 6.2 - Readers' MOTM: 2

Sa's time in Berkshire may have been brief but he certainly had some memorable moments for Reading, both good and bad. Whether it was his opening day penalty miss at Birmingham, a hat-trick on the TV against Ipswich, his red card against Derby or sulking off in January, Sa always seemed to be a talking point.

Those moments aside it was pretty tricky to get a real idea of just how good or bad Orlando actually was. The red card against the Rams coupled with Matej Vydra's injury stopped a promising partnership in its tracks and the subsequent injuries to Stephen Quinn, Hal Robson-Kanu and Aaron Tshibola further weakened the support behind the Portuguese striker. However, even with those players returning, Brian didn't see much of a future at the club for Sa and swiftly moved him on in January.

Grade: C-

Sa-ccessful early start wasn't sustained and one goal from final 14 games wasn't good enough.

*****

Deniss Rakels

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 17 - TTE Average Rating: 5.7 - Readers' MOTM: 2

Rakels didn't have it easy when he arrived at the football club. Openly described as an owners' signing, coming in at the expense of more glamorous options like Conor Washington and having no real pedigree in a major league all looked like road blocks to being accepted by the Reading faithful but Deniss still found a way to win us over.

The Latvian's high energy and passionate performances helped compensate for some style flaws and lack of physical presence. Rakels won our final POTM award here and his three goals hinted at what could be to come. Still has a fair bit to prove but he'll be given time and patience by the fans for his attitude alone.

Grade: C+

Bright start and cracking attitude but question marks remain about his long-term quality in the second tier.

*****

Matej Vydra

2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 36 - TTE Average Rating: 5.8 - Readers' MOTM: 1

Few signings have ever generated so much sustained debate over Vydra who came in heralded as the man to take us to the next level, but by the end had Tim Dellor suggesting that if he were a dog he 'should be put down'. However you felt about the loanee, the overriding emotion had to have been frustration as the Czech forwarded ended the year the leading scorer in the FA Cup but those six goals were double his tally in the league. Vydra missed two penalties and a host of big chances as Reading fans slowly became more and more divided over a player that had reportedly cost the club £2.5m for a single season on loan.

Whether it was confidence, a poor system, poor partners up front, bad luck, or just fading abilities, it just didn't work out for Vydra last season and he'll be happy to get away from the club and clear his head. Whatever the reason for his poor form, Vydra just didn't perform to the level we needed and he'll sadly go down as one of the biggest flops to arrive at the club. Long-term he'll bounce back but Reading won't be the club to benefit.

Grade: D+

FA Cup form was great but failed to deliver when league goals were needed.

*****

Hal Robson-Kanu

2014/15 Grade: D+
Appearances: 35 - TTE Average Rating: 6.4 - Readers' MOTM: 6

Like Blackman, HRK will leave Reading having arguably played his finest season for the club, a fact that will both frustrate and anger in equal measure. Robson-Kanu finally seemed to put it all together last season, becoming a constant threat around the penalty area. The Wales forward led the team in assists before his injury and his 12 goals or assists ranks joint third for the season.

The fact he managed to do that in the final year of a contract he was never going to extend is frustrating but hey, what else did you expect from a man that's been an almost constant talking point over his seven years in the first team?

Grade: B

Went out on a rather frustrating high.

*****

Simon Cox

2014/15 Grade: C
Appearances: 17 - TTE Average Rating: 5.5 - Readers' MOTM: 0

So he may have gone on one of the club's most epic goalless streaks but Cox does deserve a shred of credit for somehow making 17 appearances when his Reading career looked over in August. A dire loan spell at Bristol City had Simon's stock at an all time low but he fought his way back into first team contention in the spring and even managed a goal against a soon to be promoted Middlesbrough.

Still, those minor triumphs can't hide the fact that his career is in freefall and his next move could be the most important of his career. As 'one of our own' I can only wish him well and I'm sure he'll get a nice reception if he ever makes a return.

Grade: D

Worked hard but his return to the club fizzled out far too fast.

*****

OTHERS

Dominic Samuel looked to be firmly in first team plans before a cruel injury & the signing of Vydra saw him sent out on loan after a couple of substitute appearances. Roward Liburd completed a remarkable rise from seventh tier Billericay to the Championship with a handful of cameos before he too was sent out on loan to gain valuable league experience.

*****

Overall Grade: C-

There just weren't enough goals from the forward unit this season and the final tallies of everyone not named Blackman make for fairly pitiful reading. Vydra (3), Sa (5), Robson-Kanu (3), Kermorgant (3), Cox (1), Rakels (3) all showed promising glimpses of their true abilities but none of them could put it together on a consistent basis in front of goal. Robson-Kanu's creativity lifted him above the rest but there's a good reason that only Rakels, Kermorgant & the returning Samuel & Liburd will be here next season, as the unit just wasn't clicking.

FINAL GRADES

Goalkeepers: C   (A in 14/15)

Defenders: C (C- in 14/15)

Midfielders: C- (Central & Wingers B- & C- in 14/15)

Forwards: C- (C- in 14/15)

The whole team average out at around the C/C- level and if you take the whole season into context that just about seems fair to me. The cup run does deserve to get some credit while the first 1/3 of the season also saw some very good performances. While the final 2/3 was largely awful, it was hard to single out too many individuals or units as the reason for the failings.

So that's how I've graded them but let me know what you think in the comments below.