On this week’s podcast it was mentioned how Norwich City games seem to bring about goals, and with good cause. Wednesday night’s affair meant an average of 3.2 goals in the last 15 meetings (48 goals total) between the Royals and Canaries, with either side scoring three or more on six occasions.
The same can’t be said for Saturday’s opponents though, Hull City. Just the sound of the name almost invites an inevitably low-scoring drab affair. Instead, the record for goals in the two sides last 15 meetings are just 31 goals, or an average of 2.06 goals.
It’s the spread of those which are concerning as well if you’re looking for entertainment on Saturday. Just once in those 15 games has a side scored more than twice – our 3-1 win in November 2005. Whilst games v Norwich have thrown up 3-3s, 7-1s, 3-2s, 3-1s or 4-0s, the top three most common results show the bog-standard nature of games versus Hull.
- Six 1-1 draws,
- Four 2-1s,
- Three 1-0s
While we all want to be entertained, I know the vast majority of home fans would chew their own arm off for a scrappy 1-0 from an own goal.
Why Jon Dadi Bodvarsson needs to start
Moving to Saturday itself, Paul Clement already said in his post-match interview that he would shake things up a bit. And personally, I hope that means a first start since August for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson. Why? Because, quite simply, goals are sticking to him at the moment. He has four strikes already, as many as Kemar Roofe, Dwight Gayle, Ollie McBurnie and Ollie Watkins – all players who are being raved about this season for their hot form.
He’s also averaging one goal every 97 minutes. Out of every player in the league this season who has scored three goals or more, only Neal Maupay has a better goal per minute average, his eight goals coming at an average of every 61 minutes. That’s pretty good going for a striker most feel isn’t that capable in front of goal.
He’s also got an 80% shot on target rate, eight from his total of 10. And only that man Neal Maupay and Leeds United’s Pablo Hernandez have higher – 86% and 100% respectively.
He may not be the most potent player we’ve ever had but every striker, no matter how ‘average’, has purple streaks every now and again, and right now Bod is clearly in the midst of one – so Paul Clement needs to maximise that whilst he can!
Why Clement needs to put this year behind him
Going back to September 16, the nearest game to a year ago from now, marks precisely 29 league matches ago for Paul Clement. This equates to one half of his total league career as a manager, having 29 matches at Derby County before being booted. Symmetry!
Well these past 29 games as a manager for Swansea City and Reading have not been kind to poor old Paul. In fact, he’s won just five league games, drawn as many times and lost nineteen; a total of 20 points. Looking back at Reading’s last 29 league matches (taking us back to the very start of 2018 at home to Birmingham) and the comparisons are pretty depressing. The Royals have four wins, nine draws and 16 losses: a total of 21 points. One point better.
Yes, I know half of each timeline overlaps, but there is still a very similar pattern of negativity from club and manager alike over the last 12 months. I heard one of the BBC Berkshire analysers say Clement led us to survival last season. In reality though, a weather-beaten Clement dragged Reading’s lifeless body an inch over the finish line.
And this season he hasn’t been able to resuscitate. That’s understandable because he’s in the same cycle of depression as a manager as Reading are as a club. Perhaps on this evidence both have crossed paths at the wrong points in their history, and unfortunately both might need something or someone different to spark a change in their respective forms.