I’ve been holding off writing this article, mainly because I touched on the subject in my second ever column a few weeks. However, our form at the Madejski has gotten so dire it really begs a thorough analysis through the looking glass. Thanks to the mercy of the Gods, we’ve been fortunate enough to have been given four home matches back-to-back against faltering sides, a gift most sides in our predicament would relish in order try and build up some momentum.
Yet, so far, we’ve grabbed that opportunity with the limpest of hands, gaining just two points from nine available. It’s getting a bit tedious saying this week in, week out; but Saturday’s installment against Leeds United really is must win. I’ll have more to say about them later.
There’s no place like home
I stumbled across something extremely worrying whilst researching the history of our home form and that’s how our overall record of one win in fifteen stands out to past seasons. On only three occasions in the last twenty years has there been anything remotely comparable:
2 wins in 15 (30th January - 17th May 2013)
2 wins in 16 (3rd November 2007 - 24th February 2008)
2 wins in 17 (7th February - 3rd May 1998)
What happened in those seasons? Well as I’m sure you’ve worked out already, those were the only times we’ve been relegated in the last twenty years. Failing to beat Leeds United shall ensure that the current Reading will have had the worst form out of any other in our modern era.
As we all know there’s one defining characteristic to our dreadful form and that’s our home record, with the majority of our matches in this spell being played at the Madejski. Before I elaborate, I must warn you what you’re about to read will only get more painful...
Only Sunderland and Burton have won fewer home matches than the Royals this season - hardly welcome company to be in. Reading have won three games at the Madejski Stadium all season. As I write this it is March 8 and we have won just three league home games out of a possible eighteen and gained 15 points. To put that into perspective, it took us until just October 29 to get as many points in just eight matches.
In the 2009/10 season, when we didn’t win a home match until November, we still had more points at the same stage of the season as now. Our home form, as it stands, is the worst it has ever been in the Madejski Stadium era - the only other times that we had won three games or fewer at the turn of the year were in that infamous 09/10 season, in 1999/2000 and our last outing in the Premier League.
In fact, the last time that Reading had only recorded three home league wins from their first eighteen was in the 1987/88 season, when at least fans had a successful Simod Cup winning campaign to keep them satisfied. That year the Royals finally broke their home hoodoo on the 19th league match at Elm Park that season, so here’s to hoping that history will repeat itself against Leeds on Saturday.
While we’re on that subject, how much of a chance do we have of beating Leeds anyway? Let’s have a look.
Onto the weekend
As mentioned in the latest podcast, Leeds have been pretty diabolical too, with just won win in their last thirteen and a pretty uninspiring managerial appointment in between swapping Thomas Christensen for Paul Heckingbottom. Leeds haven’t won away in all competitions in 2018, their last three points on the road coming on Boxing Day at Burton, which at the time capped three successive away wins.
The Royals have some cause to be optimistic going into Saturday, if only by looking at our past form against the Whites. We’ve played seventeen times in the league since the turn of the century, and Reading have suffered defeat on just four occasions.
Leeds have won only once at the Madejski Stadium in that time: a 2-0 reverse in February 2015. Draws do dominate the teams’ recent history though, with Reading and Leeds sharing the spoils seven times in this time period including four nil-nils.