We’ve got through a good chunk of the season, so now’s a good chance to assess how everyone in the squad has been doing. In this piece, and a sequel, we’ll look at the performances of all Reading players to have made at least two appearances in all competitions - so, for example, no Adrian Popa or Pelle Clement.
We’ve included our average player rating for each player, and also given them a score for how well their season’s gone on the whole. There’ll also be a chance for you to cast your vote yourself, so look out for that piece when it comes out. But, for now, here’s how the goalkeepers and defenders have got on so far.
TTE average rating: 5.7/10
The Italian started the season as Reading’s number one, but got off to an awful start by fumbling Mason Mount’s shot from range on the opening night. He would go on to play just six games (keeping no clean sheets) before being dropped for Walker. Injury has kept him out of the side since, so he’s probably now Paul Clement’s third choice, and he may have to wait quite some time for another start.
He’s not done that badly, but the presence of two other senior goalkeepers in the squad have left him little room for error. Mannone will have to hope for a surprise recall, seriously up his game and maintain much better form if he’s to get back to the top of the pecking order.
TTE average rating: 5.9/10
Mannone’s poor form at the start of the season opened up an opportunity for summer signing Sam Walker to get a run of starts in the first team. He’d already contributed one clean sheet against Birmingham City in the League Cup by that point, but did the same against Hull City a few weeks later.
However, injuries derailed that run, with Walker only making one start since the second international break - replacing the absent Jaakkola for the 3-2 win over Bristol City. He was dumped straight out again when the Finn returned.
Had he not picked up an injury before the Millwall match, you’d think Walker would be Reading’s number one at the moment. Despite not fully convincing, he’d made the step up from the lower leagues comfortably and performed better than Mannone.
TTE average rating: 6/10
If you’d said in April that Anssi Jaakkola would, by November 2018, have put in one of the best individual displays of the season, you’d have been laughed out the room. However, the 31 year-old has followed up his surprise contract renewal by patiently waiting for his chance in the first team - and taking it.
His masterclass performance against Millwall almost single-handedly won Reading the game, and Paul Clement saw enough to install him as number one. Starts followed against Birmingham City and Swansea City, with Jaakkola recovering from injury to replace Walker for the Ipswich Town match.
However, that performance left a lot to be desired, not least some dire kicking which led to the home crowd jeering him, so Clement may decide to rotate his ‘keepers once more. Nonetheless, the fact that he’s been making starts at all is testament to the huge turnaround in fortunes he’s made since May.
Who else is there?
Reading have a plethora of goalkeeping options even when you exclude those three. George Legg has made the bench a few times this season (and is now on loan at Braintree), with Luke Southwood also being included as a third keeper with the matchday squad. Both are probably capable of making the step up to second or third choice in the not-too-distant future.
Beyond them, you’re looking at Lewis Ward, Jokull Andresson, Adam Desbois and James Hillson - on loan at Northampton Town, Hungerford Town, Hartley Wintney and Salisbury FC respectively. Liam Driscoll also spent part of this season at Hungerford.