As Reading rounded off their season at the Madejski Stadium the only way they knew how, getting comprehensively spanked by a below par team, it consigned them to one of their worst home records in many fans’ living memories.
Though how bad was it really? The season may be over, but why not comb over some thoroughly depressing Reading stats anyway? You’ve got months until you can spend your weekdays pouring over terrible head-to-head records with Birmingham City and Ipswich Town, and pieces about the Royals’ sorry shots to goal ratios.
You’ll have to find something else to do to occupy your lunch breaks - no frantically wondering why our defence has such a high pass percentage but such low tackles a game. I suppose you can always find depressing solace with England’s World Cup stats, but until then you might as well indulge yourself, so here are five stats to dig into.
Last season we scored only 25 goals at home - but before you start jumping out of your chair in disgust and shouting “That’s a bloody outrage that is!” and protest how much worse it’s been, then please note that if you take a look at our record in our five previous seasons...
16/17 – 35
15/16 – 25
14/15 – 24
13/14 – 38
12/13 - 23
As you’ll see it’s not really a break from the status quo, which highlights the demise of our goal-scoring form quite potently. I hate to live in the past like some overly whingey fan, but I’d like to point out that it took the 05/06 league team until December to match what the 17/18 squad scored at home.
To reiterate, it took them just 11 games, not 23. To reiterate again, we’ve scored 60 goals in our last two seasons at home. In 05/06 we got 58. That’s just silly. Speaking of goals, can you guess who our top scorer was at the Mad Stad last season? It was Modou Barrow with six goals. Next up, Jon Dadi with four, after that Kelly with three goals, next up... well you get the picture.
This may be getting a bit obscure, but looking into this in more detail was a way of getting my own frustrations out there. The overall quality of our corners recently has been shocking – I’m looking at you Sone Aluko - at the Madejski last season we had 134 corners, that’s an average of six a game.
Considering we scored from five of them (all Kelly taken just saying) you could say that’s not bad going. However, when you have a look at how we’ve done since drawing 2-2 with Cardiff, we actually went 76 corners at home with no goal from any of them. This sudden drop in confidence over set pieces mirrors everything else really.
In fact, considering the nature of Ipswich’s third goal, we’ve conceded more goals from our own corner than scored from them in 2018... (Facepalms)
Wins, losses, points etc
We finished the season with the third worst home form in the league, and the seventh worst of the 72 Football League teams. This alone gives any ordinary fan all the context you need to know about how bad it’s been. Only Southampton, West Brom, Sunderland, Burton and Gillingham won fewer matches in front of their own fans than the Royals in 2017/18.
The five games won at home last season is only worsened by our last outing in the Premier League, where we won on just four occasions, but that side can be forgiven somewhat considering the circumstances. The last time we were relegated from the second tier in 1998 we managed eight wins, at least enough to keep the home crowd somewhat content.
There is no hiding from the fact this is our worst ever home record at the Madejski outside the top flight – no, scrap that, after consulting the history books it’s the fewest wins we’ve ever achieved in the second tier in the club’s existence. Wow.
Drawing a blank
We didn’t score on eight occasions in front of the home crowd last season, double what we managed in 2016/17. I could go further into this but I think I’ve depressed you all (including myself) enough already.
The number of fans who watched us do all the above? Well we averaged 16,656 at home in the Championship, the 15th highest in the league and down just under 1,000 from the previous campaign. That may seem better than first thought considering some truly shocking turnouts in the depth of our winless run (Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers spring to mind) but it’s the lowest average attendance since our first two seasons back in the second tier in 2002/03 and 2003/04.
It’s a worrying sign and it’s the only time it’s dipped below 17,000 since those times too. You have to admit it would have been a lot worse without the decent away fan numbers on many occasions too, which to be honest have spared our blushes in this regard this season. I suppose we can at least take some solace in the fact that there were fewer people at the Madejski to witness arguably the Royals’ worst season at home in recent history.
Now read Marc’s piece putting the 2017/18 season as a whole into perspective - a truly terrible campaign in Reading history.