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Hunty's Column: End Of Season Review

Hunty argues that a poor set of players held Reading back last season.

Reading v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Well that was a load of garbage! 2017/18 was one of the most woeful seasons in living memory. There have been a few recently, but at least we had a cup run to give us something to smile about.

We did show some fight and pride to get a draw against promoted Cardiff City, Paul “Macca” McShane bought some beers for Reading fans and I won a Nando’s voucher so small steps...

Is it blame game time? So many people can have the finger pointed at them - especially the owners and Director of Football/Traffic or whatever. Blame the manager? We all did that! Jaap Stam lost his job, Paul Clement has come in and done marginally better. I also feel the loss of Stephen Reid has been huge.

However, for me, the players are to blame - end of story. When I came over for a game in December, one or two players didn’t bother to stop and sign autographs for fans. I know it’s not a big thing, but I’ve not seen it before with our club.

I don’t hate or dislike any player as a person, the ones I have met are always nice, but the team lacks a backbone. Vito Mannone is a decent keeper but is he a strong enough presence?

Our defence has been woeful for years, even last season we had some shockers. Chris Gunter is not a leader and opponents know his weaknesses as a player. He has been brilliant, but I can see him heading off to Cardiff in the summer.

Reading v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Liam Moore, a lovely guy like Gunter, but when a defender wins the club’s Player of the Season award when he’s been average, it makes no sense. For him to stay he needs to be made captain. Paul McShane on the other hand may not be Paul McGrath, but he cares and is a good guy to have around the club.

Tiago Ilori and Tyler Blackett seem to be guys who have ability, but are confidence players. Let’s hope they can develop. Omar Richards is promising but my god how we have missed Jordan Obita.

If the defence ain’t working who is to blame, the midfield? Yep! We don’t have a leader in midfield. Joey van den Berg tries, but is an accident waiting to happen. John Swift doesn’t seem to get fit long enough and George Evans doesn’t seem to get a chance, and to be honest I don’t know why. Liam Kelly, aka the new Jack Grealish, needs protection in midfield and a kick up the arse.

Garath McCleary as much I love him is another who needs to move on. We have sadly seen the best of him. How Modou Barrow didn’t win Player of the Season I have no idea! He’s been a bright spark in a poor team.

Pelle Clement is an average utility player, whilst Callum Harriott has been out all season with that injury - it’s such a shame as he had potential. I’m really sad to see Stephen Quinn go, as he would be the perfect player in our team when fit.

Sone Aluko, where do I start? There was so much hope when we signed him, but he’s shown so little end product. Maybe it’s a mental thing that would be helped by a changed of approach, or perhaps it’s time for him to go?

Up front we were so lucky with Yann Kermorgant last year, and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has come in and, after a tough start, has done well - he just needs the right support. Chris Martin though? Id rather have Gwynneth Paltrow up front.

Players will move on, and hopefully the fans will realise Clement needs to be given a chance like all those before him. We need to change our mindset, we survived by the skin of our teeth we can’t let it happen again. The club needs to find its identity again. We have been drifting aimlessly for far too long.

The summer will be interesting but as bizarre as it sounds I’m so glad we are in the Championship.

Enjoy your summer and enjoy every day, life’s too short x

Cheers, Hunty