The second international break is normally a good point to be able to sit back and evaluate how your team’s season is going so far. With 12 games now gone, we’re more or less a quarter of the way through the campaign. In the case of Reading fans, it doesn’t really take much consideration to realise that things aren’t exactly going great.
Just nine points on the board, one place above the relegation zone and one point off the bottom are all things you’ll know and won’t really want to hear again. But just how bad has this start to the season been in comparison to others at the same stage? Take a little look below to see how our current start compares to the previous five seasons.
22 points, 19 goals for, 11 against
6 wins, 4 draws, 2 defeats
Ended the season: 7th
15 points, 15 goals for, 20 against
4 wins, 3 draws, 5 defeats
Ended the season: 19th
22 points, 18 goals for, 8 against
6 wins, 4 draws, 2 defeats
Ended the season: 17th
19 points, 13 goals for, 16 against
5 wins, 4 draws, 3 defeats
Ended the season: 3rd
12 points, 11 goals for, 14 against
3 wins, 3 draws, 6 defeats
Ended the season: 20th
9 points, 15 goals for 20 against
2 wins, 3 draws, 7 defeats
Ended the season: ?
From looking at just the past five seasons alone, it’s pretty evident this is as bad as a start as we’ve had in recent memory, but it gets worse to look at if you rewind the clock further. Even in 2009 when we embarked on Brendan Rodgers’ footballing experiment we were better off at this stage - just one point, but still. Considering that’s been one of the bleakest starts to the season I can remember, it’s not exactly great.
In fact, when you learn that even in 1997/98 we were doing better by two points, a season which would see us relegated from the second tier, then there’s not much hope left. Going back through our entire history in the second tier, and this is officially our worst ever start after 12 games. No other side has ever won fewer than 10 points from their first dozen second tier matches.
When was the last time we picked up fewer than ten points in a non-Premier League season? You’d have to go back to 1959/60, the season with the awful five-game start I wrote about a little while ago. Well, we’ve equalled it again, Reading having picked up just nine points at this stage back then. It’s even worse when you consider that side earned just one point in its opening eight matches.
We also tie with that well-known, legendary team of 1954/55 who won just once in their opening 15 Division Three South games, but they still equal nine points due to six draws.
So, you’ve got to go further back to... well, you can’t go further back with the records available to mere part-time bloggers. The fact is that no Reading team has picked up fewer than nine points in the post-war period, and there’s no way of proving that any of the Reading teams that existed before Hitler invaded Poland were any worse than the side that contains Sone Aluko, Chris Gunter et al in 2018.
It’ll be quite a wake-up call then if we can’t beat Millwall on Saturday. If we lose you can expect my next article to delve into an appalling home record...