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Steve Clarke Approval Rating - February 2015

Are you happy with the job Steve Clarke is doing as Reading manager? We present the positives and negatives, and let you rate his performance in his first few weeks at the Madejski Stadium.

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images


Perhaps it's unfair to focus on the game that got Nigel Adkins fired, but - need we remind you - Reading conceded six goals at St Andrews as the Blues, who had lost at Blackpool the previous week and lost 8-0 at home to Bournemouth a few weeks earlier, put the final nail in the coffin for Adkins.

But the defence was a problem before that match, and had been all season. In Adkins' 21 Championship matches this campaign, the Royals conceded 36 goals, or 1.71 per game.

Steve Clarke's arrival has helped the back line immeasurably, and in his seven games in the League so far, Reading have conceded just six goals - 0.86 per game, or exactly half the number we were shipping under the previous regime. We are now hard to beat - just two defeats under Clarke, one in his first game in charge (albeit, frustratingly, against ten men), and another at Craven Cottage where Reading were desperately unlucky to concede in injury time after dominating the second half.

It's not just that though - the Royals seem far more confident in possession and especially when clinging on to leads. We'll never know, but I very much doubt that this team under Nigel Adkins would have had the mental or tactical nous to hold on against Norwich City or even Sheffield Wednesday.

Clarke knew the restrictions that Financial Fair Play would bring as he mentioned in his first press conference as Reading manager, and with that in mind, the dealings in January have brought a level of optimism amongst the fanbase.

Nathaniel Chalobah, initially questioned by many fans, has shown himself to be a classy midfielder; Jure Travner brings much needed backup at left-back behind Jordan Obita; and Yakubu certainly grabbed the headlines on an otherwise dull Deadline Day. Much like Jason Roberts three years ago, he could be the catalyst which finally gets Reading performing consistently. In the other direction, Royston Drenthe has finally moved on - come the summer, Clarke will hopefully be able to build on his solid start as potentially more high-wage players move on.



The problem with focusing on defence is obvious - you lose something in attack. Adkins' management saw us score 26 goals in 21 Championship matches, or 1.24 a game. Clarke's team has 7 in 7. Naturally you'd say that's less of a difference than the "goals conceded" column, but already we have seen the Royals unable to finish teams off.

In Clarke's seven League games, we've seen two red cards for the opposition on the stroke of half time. Watford came out after the break and actually nicked a win at the Madejski Stadium in Clarke's first game in charge, whilst at the New Den, Reading were unable to break down a stout Millwall defence. Zero goals in ninety minutes against ten men is worrying - even Adkins saw Reading hit two more goals after Matt Smith saw red on his Fulham debut (though the Cottagers were in turmoil at the time).

The attacking impetus will come hopefully, as Reading were unable to finish off a fully-stocked Fulham in the return leg in January despite dominating the second half, then conceding a last minute sucker punch. The Sheffield Wednesday match saw a lot more confidence in the final third, with some great team play - so perhaps we will see improvement in the next month or so.



Reading 0-1 Watford

Brighton 2-2 Reading

Reading 2-1 Norwich

Huddersfield Town 0-1 Reading (FA Cup 3rd Round)

Reading 0-0 Middlesbrough

Fulham 2-1 Reading

Cardiff 1-2 Reading (FA Cup 4th Round)

Millwall 0-0 Reading

Reading 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday

(League: W2 D3 L2 F7 A6)


So how would you grade Steve Clarke's reign so far? Vote from 1 to 5 below, where 5 is a perfect approval rating and 1 means you're not satisfied at all. We'll run this as the season goes on...