You can't always get what you want...
...but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need. I found it fitting - very fitting - on Saturday afternoon that those were the lyrics that blared out over the tannoy at full time. Another 0-0 draw in which Reading failed to create many chances was far from what the home team wanted, but the performance and lasting impact of the game is exactly what they need. Playing a high-flying Burnley was never going to be easy, so the choice of a conservative 4-1-4-1 formation was a good one in my opinion. From start to finish, the Royals showed guts and determination to prevent the away side from getting going, and thoroughly deserved both the point and the clean sheet.
But, as we all know, that's not what the game will be remembered for - that would be Saturday's pantomime villain Andre Gray. There were so many elements in that storyline - Gray misses several sitters, dives to win the penalty, looks smug when berated by the home players, and Hal Robson-Kanu does a spot of landscape gardening to, well... level the playing field, as it were. If the penalty had gone in, Reading's anger would have been immense, and morale would have imploded. Ali Al-Habsi not only won Reading a point, but perhaps pulled off one of the most important saves of our season.
As supporters, being able to focus our emotions on a single outlet - in this Gray - means that we can come together in a single cause. As a little indication of that - fans' tweets after the Wolves game were divided between 'McDermott in' and 'McDermott out'. After the Burnley game, almost all of them were 'Andre Gray is a cheat'. The quality in this team, and indeed this club, is undeniable - the important thing now is to build cohesion and momentum. Did Reading want a scrappy point with Al-Habsi justly saving a penalty? No, but it's exactly what they needed.
A Tale of Two Midfielders
In Danny Williams' absence, Stephen Quinn came into the side in pretty much a straight swap - Reading effectively playing with three central midfielders (Hector deep, with Norwood and Quinn ahead of him). However, as I'll show, Quinn offers the side something very different to his American counterpart. Here are the duo's heat maps from their last two games (Williams vs Wolves, Quinn vs Burnley) - Reading are shooting from left to right in both cases.
As you can see, Williams and Quinn spend their time in very different parts of the pitch, even when apparently both being picked as central midfielders. Williams has a more central role, and gets into the final third far more often than Quinn - who typically moved deeper and out wide. Really, this is a question of who each player is supporting. When Williams bursts forward, he acts as a link between midfield and attack, helping to create chances. In contrast, Stephen Quinn's energy and work rate allowed him to help out a busy Michael Hector in central midfield and a lazy Lucas Piazon on the wing (who, let's be honest, isn't suited to a high-energy defensive game).
Reading's biggest problem on Saturday was that they didn't create enough chances. Replacing Williams with Quinn because of injury certainly isn't the only reason that happened, but to my mind it was definitely a contributing factor.
Player in focus: Michael Hector
Having lost the solid form of earlier in the season, 'Big Hec' has found game time pretty hard to come by recently. However, he seems to have found his feet again - this time in a different position. In the absence of Aaron Tshibola and Danny Williams, Hector started in the holding role just in front of the back four, and had a good game against Burnley. Here's where he played the game, with Reading again shooting from left to right.
Evidently, Hector's role was a very basic 'sit in front of the defence and protect it' one, and he performed it excellently. Out of Reading's team on Saturday, he made the most tackles (three), didn't lose possession at all, and was even the joint-top shot taker with a trio of efforts on goal. Indeed, Hector's efforts helped limit Burnley to just four shots on target - only one when you exclude those from outside the box and the penalty.
At the moment it's hard to tell how long Danny Williams will be out for, but with Aaron Tshibola ruled out for the season, we could see Michael Hector line up in central midfield again before he returns to Chelsea. Judging by his game on Saturday, that's not something I'd be upset by.
All stats are taken from WhoScored.