The Stat: Reading’s last 12 games:
Won 1, Drawn 3, Lost 7
Goals for – 10,
Goals Against – 18,
Total Points - 6
As I scrolled down the BBC’s dedicated Championship evening coverage a text in about who thought which team would be relegated was the main feature, the one thing that was glaringly obvious was how more or less every person who bothered to contribute tipped their own team for the drop. It seems Reading fans are not alone in having lost all confidence in their club’s ability to avoid relegation.
So how bad is the Royals form in comparison to their neighbours at the bottom? As I’m sure many of you know we’ve racked up just one win in twelve league games, but what have the others amassed in the equivalent amount of matches and what does it mean for their survival hopes?
Sunderland: 12 points
W3, D3, L6, GF – 8, GA - 21
Needless to say, the Wearsiders have been pretty much everyone’s punching bag, not just this season but for the last few Premier League ones too. Even Reading coasted past them back in December. However, it says a lot about the Royals’ decline since that encounter that Sunderland have actually racked up more wins in those twelve games. Albeit only one more, but still.
In that time Sunderland have won two home games, two more than they had in the previous year, and two more than Reading in that period, which again really hammers home the problems we’ve been suffering on our own patch. In total a return of 12 points from their last 12 games is an improvement considering their awful start to the season. However, it’s not nearly a radical enough improvement to give the Mackem’s much cause for hope.
Barnsley: 8 points
W1, D5, L6, GF – 7, GA – 15
The Tykes represent another team in serious trouble but also with better form than Reading in this time frame. Despite winning just once like Reading, they have ground out a couple more draws, one of which came against us and perhaps were unlucky not to take all three when the two clubs met at Oakwell on December 30th.
The South Yorkshire outfit have a history of great escapes in past Championship relegation scraps, but what really seems to mark them out as a key contender for the drop is their alarming drop in goals. Their top scorer in this timeframe is defender Ethan Pinnock with two goals (including their late equaliser against us), who’d previously never scored a professional goal.
Top scorer Tom Bradshaw has not scored since December 9. The jumping of ships by Paul Heckingbottom to rivals Leeds, a typically loyal manager, is a clear sign all’s not well.
Burton Albion: 15 points
W4, D3, L5, GF – 13, GA – 19
A crucial away win on Tuesday night at Barnsley could be the start of a revival, especially if Darren Bent starts contributing with the goals he’s capable of getting at a club like Burton. Like Reading though, it’s Albion’s home form that could be the difference, just one win all season is quite frankly shocking.
They also have a curious record when it comes to conceding goals, in their last 12 they have shipped a huge 19 but still managed to tally five clean sheets. Consistency is the issue. Too small to stay up? Well they managed it last year – watch this space.
Hull: 10 points
W2, D4, L6, GF – 9, GA – 13
A bit like Reading, Hull seemed to have sleepwalked into their relegation battle, blissfully unaware until it’s too late. Though unlike us, they did appoint a new manager, though Nigel Adkins hasn’t exactly set the world alight and it appears to more of the same.
Again, similar to Reading their players don’t really seem to be up for the fight they will have to engage in over the coming months, and that is the most worrying characteristic. Their defensive record is a positive, though they really need to find their scoring boots if it’s going to help them.
Birmingham City: 14 points
W4, D2, L6, GF – 12, GA – 19
Peaks and troughs is the phrase best used to describe the Blues’ form since Steve Cotterill’s arrival. A spell of 13 points in six matches across December to February suddenly left fans positive of a revival, however, three defeats on the trot without scoring has led Birmingham to slide perilously towards the relegation zone.
Birmingham haven’t been in the third tier since 1994/5 and in recent seasons have had a few near misses, though previous experience in relegation dogfights may give them an edge over the likes of teams such as Hull or ourselves.
Bolton Wanderers: 17 points
W5, D2, L5, GF - 8, GA - 11
Parky’s men have had a mini revival, considering it took them until mid-October to record a league win. Our meeting at the Madejski next month really will be a proverbial 6-pointer. Of all the teams below Reading, Bolton seem to be the team on the up, and that probably owes to fact they have the best form in the last 12 matches than any other team in the bottom third of the table. They’re beating the teams around them too, with recent wins over Barnsley, Hull and Sunderland, which could prove the difference at the end of the season.
What does this all mean for the Royals?
Well I hate to be doom and gloom but since our bad run started on December 9, we have been the worst performing team in the league. That’s right, bottom of the form table. And you can’t really say anything more than that...