With last week’s win offering Paul Clement a slight reprieve and, as put by the man himself, another week in the Reading hotseat, the pressure on his future will be cranked back up to eleven should the Royals stutter at home to a woeful Ipswich side on Saturday. With the Tractor Boys having won just once this season they have been one of the stand out ‘bad teams’ in the entire Football League this season. But just how bad have they been in comparison to other bottom sides in other seasons?
Ipswich currently have 10 points and a -14 goal difference from 16 games. This almost matches Sunderland record at the same stage of last season, who also had just one win, six draws and nine defeats going up to the third international break. But, they boasted a slightly healthier goal difference of -11. Take a longer glance back through recent history and it gets a bit grimmer if you’re an Ipswich fan, as seen in the table below, of the teams to be bottom in the last 10 Championship seasons after 16 games, only seven have gone on to beat the drop. And of the seven who didn’t avoid relegation, every one finished bottom. As you can see below, only Doncaster in 2008/09 managed to steer themselves out of any danger of being relegated, gaining 10 places in their remaining 28 matches.
So, you’re either looking either at a great escape or an inevitable season of doom if you’re an Ipswich fan. Why the sudden focus on the opposition team this week you may ask? Well isn’t it a lot nicer analysing another sides abject misery for a change?
Will he stay or should he go?
Moving on from Suffolk to all things Berkshire related and back to the important business of how long will Clement have left should we lose or even draw on the weekend? With names being lined up, some seemingly being plucked from a strange fantasy world (Bruce one week, Guidolin the next! - either the Press have gone AWOL or Gourlay’s been on a bender), it’s time to look at whether history might suggest a sacking after 17 games would trend with past Reading managerial dismissals.
Now apologies for not being old enough but for these particular stats I’m afraid I’ll only be able to go back as far as the 1970’s, but hopefully it will still do. Since 1970, only three Reading managers have been sacked before December, those three being Tommy Burns in September 1999, Ian Branfoot in October 1989 and Jack Mansell in October 1971.
Here’s a stat for you though, if Paul Clement does lose his job following a particularly shambolic display on Saturday, then he’ll be the first Reading manager in at least the last fifty years to leave their post, either through dismissal, resignation or ‘Pardewing’, in the month of November.
So maybe it’ll be put on ice until December, a time where Reading board members have been less festive in recent years. In the last 10 years, three managers have lost their during the month of advent – Brendan Rodgers, Nigel Adkins and Steve Clarke being ‘sacked’ (sorry) at the most wonderful time of the year.
And here’s another stat that might make Clement a bit more surefooted in his job, making him confident that he will be able to order that bit of online shopping with the 2-3 week delivery attached, knowing that yes, he probably will be still in a job long enough for him to be able to risk despatching it to his work address. It is that only one post-WW2, permanent Reading manager has lost or left their job in the same calendar year that they were appointed.
The lucky man that stat is upheld by is, of course, no other than Mr Brendan Rodgers. So, to get their manager sacked, Reading will have to rival Rodgers record for the remainder of the year if a change in the dugout is likely. Those baying for Clement’s blood may have to wait and it may only make part of the owners New Year’s resolutions.
Back to the game itself, and those fearing for an embarrassing Reading loss may be reassured by these stats.
- Reading haven’t lost more than two times in a row to Ipswich in consecutive seasons since they beat us five times on the trot in the Division Three South between 1946-48 (Ipswich of course did the double over us last season beating us 2-0 and 4-0).
- Using the rule of three again, Reading have never failed to score in three consecutive games against Ipswich. So, we’ll either win tomorrow, or at least score once whilst getting beat. Yay.