It’s fair to say that Reading are stuck in a rut at the minute and, at the moment, they don’t look like getting out of it anytime soon, but the blame cannot lie with the manager. The former Derby County and Swansea boss has got a lot of flack for his poor win percentage at Reading, but let’s not forget he took over a team that had won just one game in 19.
Clement’s sole task when he joined last season was to keep Reading in the Championship, which he achieved. Did fans just suddenly expect him to be a miracle worker and get us playing Barcelona-esque football and win the rest of our games? Clement did exactly what he needed to do last season with a squad that arguably deserved to go down.
This summer was a chance for Clement to really stamp his mark on this team, and if you watched the opening two games of the season - especially the Derby game - you would’ve seen that he certainly did that. However, rightly or wrongly, we came away pointless from both those matches, and ever since then it’s gone downhill - fast.
Of course, Clement has to take some flack for some of the teams he’s selected and the performances, but wanting him to be sacked already is ridiculous - after all, we’re only six matches into a 46-game season.
Last season cannot be used as part of the reason for wanting him gone as he kept us up - performances didn’t need to be good. Yes, two points from a possible 18 is poor, but it’s plain to see that we are a better team than we were last year. The problem is that the players are drained of confidence.
Problems off the pitch
The disruption behind-the-scenes hasn’t helped either. Brian Tevreden’s ‘three-year plan’ that he started in 2016 is failing and that’s down to one thing: the inability to build on the success of Jaap Stam’s first season. How we didn’t sign a striker in the summer of 2017 still baffles me. We had just finished third in the Championship, narrowly missing out on Premier League football, with a good squad and Jaap Stam as manager - surely there were forwards out there who wanted to play for us?
Instead, it was the likes of David Edwards, Pelle Clement and Sone Aluko who came through the doors at the Madejski Stadium. That transfer window was a disaster for all involved in the recruitment process, i.e. Ron Gourlay and Brian Tevreden. It’s been a better summer this year though. I do believe Sam Baldock, Marc McNulty and Andy Yiadom will all turn out to be key players for us this year.
I’m positive that Clement will turn this awful start around. His passion, honesty and emotion in post-match interviews is so refreshing and like no other Reading manager in recent times. Yes, he has made mistakes this season, but there’s only so much a manager can do.
Once those players cross the white line, it’s in their hands. The players need to look themselves in the mirror, as Liam Moore said after the Sheffield Wednesday game, the players let down Stam last season and have done the same to Clement so far.
Personally, I think that Clement is not to blame for the mess we are in, and certainly doesn’t deserve to be sacked. This is a time in which the club needs everyone to stick together - tweeting players and the managers to criticise them is never going to help. So let’s get behind the team, and hopefully move on from these last 12 months - which has been a horror show.
What do you think? Should Paul Clement take the bulk of the blame for Reading’s start to the season, or do the problems run deeper than the manager? Leave us a comment below.