Pre-season is now over and now the attention turns to Birmingham on Saturday, but Steve Clarke on was in a reflective mood of our warm up fixtures ahead of the big kick off next week.
A goalless draw against La Liga visitors RCD Espanyol at the Madejski ended what has been a tough pre-season. In a quiet but heated affair yesterday, although Clarke thought that the Royals’ played well, he told the Official Club website, "It was a technical game where opportunities in front of goal for both teams were very scarce.
"The fact we went down to ten meant I had to change my plans a little bit and some of the substitutions I had in mind to make I couldn’t. But there were some good signs, especially in the first half.
"We started the game quite well and both teams passed it well. We got some decent balls in the box and a few half chances - Danny Williams in the first half, Orlando Sa got a good shot off in the second which is a good sign.
"No goals and that’s a conversations I've just had with some of my coaching staff. We have to be better with set plays, we get a lot of set pieces and we don’t score enough from them. Really, we have to be a little bit more positive and creative in the final third of the pitch."
Now pre-season is over, attention turns to the league and Clarke summed up with this summer’s tests, he added: "Pre-season is all about getting the fitness levels up and trying to avoid injuries. This year, unfortunately we have picked up one or two more than I would have liked.
"Pavel Pogrebnyak has picked up a knock. Garath McCleary has unfortunately come back with a calf injury and I don't think he'll be available for us for the first few weeks of the season which is frustrating.
But the general shape of the team, the players I've been working with - I'm happy with what we've done so far."
Clarke is still hoping to add to the squad before the end of August adding, "I'm still hopeful to get some more players in before the end of the window. Although it’s never easy in the window, there is still some wheeling and dealing to be done before then.
"Right now, there are probably 16 to 20 teams who can be competitive and be in and around the play-off places come the end of the season. We are one of those teams. So it’s important to get off to a good start; next week is an important game for us and we’ll look to get some points on the board as easy as possible."