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Grade Veljko Paunovic’s Start As Reading Manager

What do you make of the start he’s made in Berkshire?

Derby County v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

We’re six games into the Veljko Paunovic era at Reading, and we want to know what you think of how he’s done so far.

Reading’s new(ish) boss arrived at the Madejski Stadium to a thoroughly underwhelming reception. Fans were still smarting at the abrupt, apparently unfair exit of Mark Bowen, and so the appointment of an unknown gaffer - only with experience in youth football and the MLS - didn’t inspire much confidence.

However, he made a rapid start and never looked back. Having watched on from quarantine during the League Cup win over Colchester United that opened the season, he took charge for four successive Championship victories.

First up was an impressive 2-0 victory at a well below-par Derby County; Lucas Joao and Ovie Ejaria scored the goals in all-round eye-catching performance. The Royals were as threatening going forwards as they were solid at the back.

They made heavier weather of the subsequent 2-0 win over Barnsley. Reading were second best for much of the game, but two red cards for the Tykes made victory easier. Ultimately the Royals showed patience and clinical finishing, with goals coming from Yakou Meite and Michael Olise.

Next up were Cardiff City, where Reading almost continued their run of 2-0 wins. After an even first half, Michael Morrison and Lucas Joao built a two-goal cushion after the break, but Lee Tomlin (because of course it was Lee Tomlin) halved the deficit. Nonetheless, despite the quality of last season’s play-off contenders Cardiff, Reading didn’t look overly troubled at any point.

Watford at home was the toughest task, but again, Reading came through it with flying colours. George Puscas put the Royals in the lead late on in in the first half, and a resolute, determined team showing earned Reading the points.

The only real downside during that period was exiting the League Cup after defeat to Luton Town. Paunovic put out a very experimental XI for the sake of rotating out the main team, and it lost 1-0 in an underwhelming performance.

Reading v Watford - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Nonetheless, Pauno is one of just two managers in the Championship with a 100% record so far this season - something few would have thought him to be capable of when he was appointed. It’s Reading’s best start to the season since 1985/86 and, given that it’s come after a pre-season of such turmoil, it’s all the more impressive.

Although Pauno hasn’t instilled a particularly attractive or expansive style of football, the team spirit and defensive organisation on show have been excellent. That’s largely been helped by a string of first-team exits in the summer which have created a leaner, more focussed squad, but ultimately Pauno is the one to have orchestrated the form we’ve seen.

Pauno was justifiably rewarded for his efforts with official recognition, being given the Championship’s manager of the month award for September. In achieving that, he became the first Reading boss to take that award since Jaap Stam in the 2016/17 season - not bad at all for a rookie coach in his very first month in English football.

We want to know how you’ll grade Pauno. This is in addition to our regular post-match polls which we’ve been running on Twitter, in order to track how much his popularity improves or declines over time. You can find the results for those below (first number is ‘approve’, second is ‘meh’, third is ‘disapprove’).

Derby County: 86.8%, 11.8%, 1.4%

Luton Town: 38.4%, 55.4%, 6.2%

Barnsley: 68.7%, 29.3%, 1.9%

Cardiff City: 88.1%, 10.4%, 1.5%

Watford: 94.1%, 4.6%, 1.3%

As for this poll, as ever, grade the manager from one (lowest) to five (highest). You should be able to see the poll below, but if it doesn’t display properly, please try this link.