So Jose Gomes is gone. He lasted just 34 league games and won just eight of them, which sees him depart with the second-worst win ratio in Reading’s history. No prizes for guessing the worst, that’s you Paul Clement.
Funnily enough, Gomes shares a league win percentage of 23.5% with none other than Brendan Rogers. In total, he won just 27 points from 102 available - barely more than a quarter of what was on offer. There are far more interesting statistics that define the Gomes reign, however. Otherwise, were it for results alone, there would not be such surprise or sadness over the departure of a manager who on paper is the joint second-worst in the club’s history.
This season was worse than you might have thought...
Reading lost 15 games in total under Jose Gomes. Astonishingly more of those came this season (when there have been eight defeats) than last season (when there were just seven). This concentration of losses at the beginning of this campaign goes a long way to explaining why the trigger was pulled so quickly by the Dais. After all, modern football is very unforgiving and Gomes certainly won’t be the last manager in the league to be sacked this season after a similar run of matches.
John Swift improved…
Under Clement, John Swift made no assists and scored 0 goals. He was down on his luck and looked a shadow of his former self. While many will argue that he still hasn’t hit the heights he reached in his debt season, his improvement under Jose Gomes speaks for itself with five goals and five assists since the Portuguese manager took the hot seat in December 2018. Whether the next man in the dugout can continue to get the best out of Reading’s talisman may well prove to be decisive in their success at the club.
Winning without possession…
Jose Gomes’ Reading side showed they were better without the ball than with it. Five out of their eight wins under Gomes came with less than 50% of possession, and an average of 46% possession across those eight games. What was refreshing to see under Gomes was that he wasn’t afraid to win without sticking strictly to his preferred style of football. Something Jaap Stam very rarely stuck to.
Under Jose Gomes’ tenure, the Royals didn’t win a single 1-0, while suffering the same reversal on three occasions. What this shows is that Gomes’ Reading side weren’t able to come out on top in 50/50 matches. How many times have we come away from games without any points but also without having been vastly outplayed?
His last match - away to Bristol City - was just that sort of game; Reading played well enough but were unable to grasp the match by the horns and do the necessary gritty work to ‘one up’ the opposition. You can’t win every game like that, but you need to win some.
Can’t get back into games...
This season Reading lost seven out of the eight games in which they conceded first, gaining just one point from losing positions in total (thanks to a late equaliser at Swansea City). Overall, just one of the eight matches won under Gomes came after Reading conceded first - that very memorable last minute triumph at home to Wigan Athletic back in March which now seems an eternity ago.
Combined, Reading won 23 points after scoring the first goal and just four points when conceding first. This over reliance on scoring the first goal didn’t exactly help considering the next stat…
Of the 14 games in which Reading conceded first, on a staggering ten occasions that goal came inside the first 15 minutes. And the points gained despite these early goals came to a mere four - that win versus Wigan mentioned above and the draw with Swansea just under two weeks ago.
Twist the microscope a bit further and you see that in seven of the games when Reading conceded first, the goal came inside just eight minutes - in games against Derby County, Millwall, Swansea (home and away), Sheffield United and Hull City. The average time of the first goal of the game conceded by Reading under Jose Gomes was just 16.5 minutes.
Conceding this early was a new phenomenon under the Portuguese boss, but as recent history has dictated, Reading being unable to overturn games from losing positions has sadly been an issue that has plagued this team for years now. So the combination of these two character traits ultimately spelled disaster and left many games over before they’d begun.
The win ratio…
As highlighted above, Gomes’ win ratio was a mere 23.5% in 34 league matches with just 27 points overall. We know this isn’t very good, we also know it also wasn’t over that much time, and for many no way near enough time. But how does his win ratio in this amount of games compare with the first 34 games of Steve Coppell’s, Brian McDermott’s and Alan Pardew’s first 34 games?
These were the last three managers to have won a promotion with the club of course, which is why I’ve chosen these as my case studies.
Reading managers after 34 games
|Manager||Win %||Points won||Points per game|
|Manager||Win %||Points won||Points per game|
|Brian McDermott (v1)||47%||57||1.7|
This tells us that while 34 league matches may not be enough to prove if a manager can improve over time, it was enough for our best managers of the last 20 years to build a solid foundation for their future success with the club.
Sackings becoming more common…
The last three Reading managers (Gomes, Clement and Stam) have all been sacked in the space of just 568 days at an average of 49 games per manager. The last man to survive two full seasons at the helm was Brian McDermott in his original spell. Since his sacking in 2013, no manager has made it through two whole campaigns. The longest serving of these, Nigel Adkins, despite being involved in three different seasons, only guided the club through one full season in 2013/14.