The strike partnership needs a lot more work
When Blackman and Sa were sold, we all consoled ourselves by agreeing that a partnership of Kermorgant and Vydra would help get The Royals back on track and scoring goals for fun. Unfortunately, in their first couple of games together it's looked anything but menacing. Despite scoring a hat trick against Walsall, Vydra still looks bereft of confidence and Kermorgant as rusty as a 34-year-old striker who hasn't played many games in 6 months is going to be.
Look at the statistics and it's as bad as it seems. For a start, both played pretty much on top of each other judging by average positions and touches.
Sadly, the fact is that neither of the two strikers are getting the ball in the box, where they do the most damage. This isn't entirely down to them, as they obviously need to be fed the ball but if neither player is spending much time in the box and when they get the ball are more often than not outside the box, you're not going to score goals.
Even when they are getting the ball, the number of times they pass forwards is minimal, to say the least.
So not only are the strikers not getting the ball in dangerous areas, they're also not feeding the ball into dangerous areas. And we wonder why they're not threatening the opposition?
What is McDermott doing with the wingers?
When Brian returned to the club, we all assumed he'd be making the most of the wingers he has available to him — in particular, we'd finally see a McCleary-John combination down the wings. Unfortunately, that's not been the case and Robson-Kanu has been favoured, presumably because the on-loan Benfica winger still isn't fit. Or will never be.
Yet it's not just the personnel. The wingers aren't really playing as wingers. Garath McCleary, in particular, didn't spend much time getting chalk on his boots and instead was found cutting inside from the right. McCleary at his best was a blistering winger who would burst down the touchline and get a cross into the box. This current version of McCleary is not at his best, nor is he doing what we expected he would be doing when McDermott was appointed.
He had two shots, both from central positions (which, we'll give him his due, you'd expect anyone to shoot from) and his passing came from the centre of the pitch, which is odd for a player of his stylistic preferences.
Is this something Brian McDermott is asking him to do, or is McCleary trying to take things into his own hands? One thing's for sure, he's not a like-for-like replacement for Nick Blackman on the right hand side, party because he's—well—not left footed.
Robson-Kanu could be a Nick Blackman-esque right winger, except he keeps starting on the left hand side and being shifted over to the right to give John his 15 minutes. Without wanting to dub him the 'Blackman replacement', Robson-Kanu has looked a lot more threatening over on the right hand side. If McDermott is asking his right winger to cut into the midfield to add movement and another man in the middle, you'd say he's the better bet to fulfil that role. He certainly did his best to do the cut-in-and-shoot move we saw Blackman try earlier this season.
Will we see Robson-Kanu on the right from the start anytime soon? You'd like to think so.
Shots. What shots?
Speaking of shooting, this Reading side seems to have forgotten what a dangerous shot looks like. Look at the graphic below and tell me if any of those shoots look remotely dangerous (clue: no).
This is probably as a result of the strikers not getting into the box, the wingers wanting to get all the glory and a general lack of creativity from the centre of the park. All of which leads to 17 pot shots, only 2 of which needed saving.
There's not much more to be said, except we had better hope that Kermorgant and Vydra start 'clicking' and feeding each other soon, or else we may find ourselves nearer the bottom of the table than we could have imagined in mid-October.