clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tactics Insight: Reading FC 2-2 Huddersfield Town

Tuesday night's match saw as bad as first half as we have seen in a long time. @WilliamOwain analyses the highlights and finds some old habits creeping back.

1 min - Jamie Paterson GOAL

Paterson goal

It's easy to spot who is to blame here. A long kick from Jed Steer is miscontrolled by Nahki Wells, which Jordan Obita intercepts only to play an awful first time pass behind Anton Ferdinand. With both Reading defenders off balance, Wells plays in Jamie Paterson, who calmly side-foots past Ali Al-Habsi. Obita's pass was inexcusable and it is hard to know what was going through his mind when he attempted it.

I also think questions have to be asked of Al-Habsi's positioning. The goal started in the Huddersfield box yet he's barely out of his six yard box by the time Paterson shoots. If he had been standing further up the field he might have got to Wells' pass before Paterson and if he hadn't it surely would have been more difficult for Paterson to score.

Al-Habsi is certainly not the guilty party in this goal but his tendency to stay deep, which was exposed against Fulham, was once again highlighted.

Al-Habsi positioning

4 mins - Ali Al-Habsi save from Jamie Paterson

Paterson miss

Just three minutes after Huddersfield opened the scoring they almost doubled their lead with Reading's defence all over the place. Harry Bunn turns Chris Gunter and then has the freedom of the Royals' half to attack.

Paul McShane and Ferdinand retreat to their goal which is perfectly natural. What is alarming is how deep they are compared to Gunter and the midfield. Either they are too deep or the rest of the team are too high up the pitch. Whoever is to blame, as the picture below shows, there is a huge gap between the defence and midfield which is never a good thing. Only a smart save from Al-Habsi saved Reading.

Paterson space

25 mins - Nahki Wells GOAL

Wells goal

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! Where to start with this one?

Well, Martin Cranie picks up the ball in front of the Huddersfield defence after a Reading move breaks down. Matej Vydra is in the top right hand corner of the picture below and the only other Reading player in it is Garath McCleary.

Wells goal 1

By the time Craine passes the ball two other Reading players have come into view. Lucas Piazon, perhaps rather aptly, is hiding at the top of the picture while Danny Williams is on the left. We can already observe that there is a big distance between the midfield and attack.

Wells goal 2

Craine passes to Paterson who is belatedly closed by Gunter. Again notice the distance between Gunter and McCleary.

Paterson played a first time pass to Bunn who was not being marked by McShane. There is again a huge gap between the defence and midfield. The defence and attack are so far apart they might as well be in different postcodes.

Reading were neither pressing high up the pitch nor sitting deep. It is truly terrible defending and all too familiar. I wrote an article highlighting the exact same thing in the home defeat to Brentford in April. It is worrying that the whole team, despite so many new players, is making the same mistakes as a mediocre team with nothing to play for.

Clarke needs to start making Reading difficult to play against again. Reading need to defend as a team not three separate units. Not every game will allow the Royals to sit deep and hit teams on the counter attack. The last month has shown that Reading are still very much developing their game when it comes to matches where they are the dominant team.

A lot of attention has been focused on our inability to break teams down but the lack of a clear plan defensively in those sort of games is perhaps more worrying. Clarke will need to decide whether he wants his team to press high up the pitch, like they did in the second half, or whether such a tactic is too risky with Ferdinand and McShane in defence. If Reading are not going to press high up the pitch then the huge distances that develop between the defence, midfield and attack will need to be sorted out.

Of course the second Huddersfield goal cannot fail to mention Obita's second costly mistake of the evening. As anyone who watched Alan Hansen on Match of the Day will know, it is criminal for full backs to be behind the centre backs.

Well Obita has been caught red handed in the picture below but the team's positioning is just as responsible for the goal and as we have seen it was not an isolated incident. It's time Reading start doing the ugly work again.

GIFs and screen shots are taken from highlights on the official Reading Football Club YouTube channel and SkySports website.