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In Defence Of Reading FC's Underperforming Matej Vydra

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The man at the centre of one of the Dellor v McDermott fight last week, Matej Vydra, is being unfairly criticised, says Hugh Van de l'isle.

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Now before I start analysing where it's gone wrong for Reading's number seven this season, I must confess that I have a soft spot for both Vydra and his parent club Watford. I was raised following both teams with my dad's side of the family all Reading supporters and my mum's side of the family all Watford. I still follow their results and wish them well, despite now being more Reading FC at heart fortunately—or unfortunately depending on perspective.

Therefore, when we signed Vydra on loan in the summer I was delighted, here was a proven striker who for Watford had scored the goal that secured promotion. He'd played a key part in them finishing second and also won player of the year in 2013 when Watford were beaten play-off finalists. So what could go wrong?

Unfortunately, a lot has gone wrong since his move to Reading, but the constant berating has to stop. Vydra is still very young and at this stage in his career, confidence will be a real factor. I want the fans who slate him each weekend to think of him first as a person first, then as a player.

Vydra has gone from winning the Championship back to square one, surrounded by worse players. He'd have spent the entire summer dreaming of starting alongside Troy Deeney and co taking on the best England had to offer. Granted, people should be able to adapt, but think of your own personal jobs and think about the heart sinking feeling you'd have after thinking you'd be moving up in the world—only to return to the same old office.

As a footballer the pinnacle of your career is being able to tell your children and grandchildren about the trips to Old Trafford, Anfield etc. I'm pretty certain his heart was never going to be in an away day at the John Smith's.

However a lack of effort is something we cannot label Vydra with. The first couple of months things seemed to click, his link up play, particularly with Orlando Sa and Lucas Piazon, was sublime. See the goal at Fulham before our season ending breakdown, that game can easily be seen as a metaphor for Vydra's Reading career.

After the Steve Clarke debacle Vydra and Blackman started upfront together quite regularly, however whilst Blackman was shooting left, right and centre (and no longer scoring as frequently) Vydra barely saw the ball. I enjoy watching the full picture with a game instead of just following where the ball is going, and countless times I would see Vydra point to exactly where he wanted the ball. Our midfield either contrives to shoot on sight in the case of Mr Williams, or ping a 40-yarder to Obita or Gunter in the case of Mr Norwood.

Each week I could see Vydra getting more and more frustrated, so is it a surprise that by February and March when he is getting the perfect chances that he no longer has the confidence in front of goal?

"Through our own fault of not having a midfield that easily merges with our forwards, we have taken a proven 20-goal-a-season striker and ruined his confidence in front of goal."

Through our own fault of not having a midfield that easily merges with our forwards, we have taken a proven 20-goal-a-season striker and ruined his confidence in front of goal. It is not a lack of effort that we see from Vydra, when we lost against Middlesborough on Tuesday night, the Czech international looked distraught that his miss had caused us to drop three points, instead of winning against title contenders.

Compare this to another of our loanees in Lucas Piazon, the Chelsea loanee struts around the pitch like a pampered prince occasionally delivering a clever flick or a nutmeg but he provides nothing for the team on the whole. Yet no one gives Piazon anywhere near the level of grief Vydra gets. I'm still trying to figure out why this is, which unfortunately brings me onto someone I don't want to have to talk about, but will to finish my defence of Vydra.

Step forward one Tim Dellor, when I can't make a game (usually some northern excuse for a town that was once good in the 80s or something) I like to listen to the BBC Berkshire commentary. However in recent weeks this has actually become a painful experience due to Tim Dellor bullying Matej Vydra—and bullying is the only word I can think of suitable enough to describe Dellor's approach to Vydra.

He appears to be on a one-man mission to ruin Vydra's career, be it accusing him of missing a penalty on purpose against Bolton, granted the penalty was hit softly, but that was Blackman's and HRK's trait, when it comes off it looks good, but keepers save penalties, it happens. For Dellor to accuse Vydra of missing on purpose borders on the absurd.

I rarely get upset with Reading anymore, the child filled with hope was replaced by a cynic a long time ago, if we lose we lose, if we win I'll celebrate. Relegations and the odd cup defeat upset me but what Dellor said on Tuesday night genuinely made me sad for Vydra. To use the metaphor "if he was a dog, he'd have been put down by now" beggars belief from someone who is supposed to be a professional. I respect Dellor for apologising, but Matej Vydra is not the worst striker I have ever seen in a Reading shirt.

Les Ferdinand, Bas Savage, Paul Brayson, Simon Church, can any of them claim to have scored a hat-trick in the FA Cup? My message to the Reading fans reading this would be let's just get behind the boys for the remaining five games. Vydra, Piazon, John, Hector they all won't be here next season so we should appreciate the talents we have for now.

Also, Matej, if you're reading this, feel free to say hi at the Hull game and you can have a hug from me, it can only get better from here.