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Stats Corner: Getting Out Of The Blocks

What do the record books tell us about Reading’s start to the season?

Reading v Chelsea - Barclays Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

As Reading prepare for their first ever televised Friday night opening game, the Royals can at least relax with the knowledge that a win will see us top the table for the first time since we won promotion in 2012! Yay! Is that enough to make you all happy again?

Well with some fans already underwhelmed with this season’s prospects and how quickly the Royals will pull out the traps, I’m going to take a look at how big an impact the starts to our seasons have had on the overall campaign in recent history.

When the fixtures came out back in June you may have read the Stats Corner on opening day fixtures. If so you may remember how we haven’t scored more than two goals in an opening day match since our Premier League debut 3-2 comeback triumph in 2006/07. And typically in recent years goals haven’t been something to expect when following Reading in their opening games to a season lately.

Last season we managed only five goals in our opening five games, likewise in 2016 we managed just five goals in our opening five games and then again in 2015, and AGAIN in 2014… I think there’s a pattern emerging here… well actually in 2014 we scored a whopping seven goals, putting the subsequent season openings to shame, clearly.

Reading v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship
Simon Cox (re)opened his Reading account with a goal against Huddersfield at the start of the 2014/15 season

But what do goals mean if they’re not backed up by points and wins, you ask? Well you may be interested to know the last time the Royals won more than two of their opening five games was waaaay back in 2006/07 - again in that debut Premier League season - which if anything really does demonstrate just how much we achieved that year. Since then we’ve averaged 5.6 points from our opening five games of each season – it certainly appears to be the magic number.

And for all those ready to jump on a ‘Clement Out’ bandwagon if we start in a rather dodgy fashion, then at least hear this first. Since 2008, if you disregard the 2012/13 relegation season and focus on our opening five games in the Championship alone, Reading’s worst start became our most successful season.

In 2011/12 when we won the league, we picked up just four points from those five games. That’s our worst record at this level since 1997/98, which was coincidentally the last time we were, err... well you know... What I’m trying to say is that if we get fewer than five points it’s time to either start aiming for the stars or start hiding in a cave for the rest of the season or something. I don’t know, it’s up to you really.