For all the talk of revolution and Veljko Paunovic making his mark on this Reading team, only two new players had arrived, with one leaving, during the transfer window when the week began.
With Ovie Ejaria’s loan made permanent amid the signings of Josh Laurent and loanee Lewis Gibson, who is still yet to play for the club, few would claim the Reading team that finished 14th last year had been seriously improved.
But with four wins from his first four Championship games, Pauno arguably does not need improvements to the starting XI. It was the squad that needed sprucing up.
The teams desperately attempting to sign a new star striker and playmaker on deadline day are rarely the ones with their house in best order, and thankfully Reading were not in that boat this week. And, most thankfully of all, the club didn’t feel the need to needlessly jump into that boat.
A clear strategy was unfolding with the signings of defensive midfielder Alfa Semedo and right-back Tomas Esteves, both on loan. A winger was also reportedly chased but did not arrive.
It was a breath of fresh air to have a strategy to begin with- not only one that can be described as “clear” but also as “obvious”. As I say, the club has not always taken the obvious route in the transfer market so it is nice to tread that path once more.
Semedo, signed from Benfica on Deadline Day Eve, is a combative Bissau-Guinean midfielder who spent last season with Nottingham Forest. So far, so Pele. This was not a massive hole gaping in the first XI, but scratch past Laurent and Andy Rinomhota and it was evident that cover was needed.
Tom McIntyre had stepped into the role off the bench but is not a long-term midfield option or ideal for, say, an emergency start in a play-off semi-final. For example. Not saying we might end up there. But just in case.
In defence, Esteves appears to be more prudent business. Highly-rated across Europe (arguably the most meaningless of all football cliches, I grant you), the 18-year-old from Porto is a natural right-back while Andy Yiadom and Felipe Araruna are injured. Like McIntyre, Tom Holmes has moved over from central defence to cover but is not suited to 30 games-plus on the flank.
What Reading did miss out on was a winger. Portuguese media and In-The-Know Eddie named Porto’s Goncalo Borges as an option but a loan deal with purchase clause could not be agreed. Personally, there is perhaps only so many Primeira Liga kids you need to challenge for promotion, with Bruno Tavares and Elvis Balde (both Sporting Lisbon) also linked.
The only outgoing on deadline day was Marc McNulty’s loan switch back to Scotland, with Dundee United picking up a player who was given a bit of a shot by Pauno but clearly did not meet the new boss’ requirements.
What About The Domestic Deadline?
Reading have until 5pm on October 16 to hammer out deals with EFL and Premier League clubs.
A winger could again come into view with a top-flight loanee most likely. To pluck a name out of thin air... Southampton’s Nathan Tella might be the sort of promising youngster the Royals could tempt to the Championship.
But, if not, having Sone Aluko, Ovie Ejaria, Michael Olise and Yakou Meite as the wing options for the next two months is hardly terrible.
Sam Baldock may leave, particularly if an attacking reinforcement arrives. Sim’s graphic on TTE Twitter (below) shows he is now firmly third-choice in the striking department but a new winger may push Meite ahead of him.
Loan moves could also be set up for the likes of Sam Smith, Jokull Andresson or Sam Walker but, with the Under-23 squad considerably light this year, movement may be limited.
With the international window now shut, here's how the squad looks.— The Tilehurst End (@TheTilehurstEnd) October 5, 2020
Everyone on there's played at least once for #ReadingFC. Faded-out names are academy grads with two (or fewer) appearances. Those in italics are injured.
Happy with that squad, or do we need further additions? pic.twitter.com/xWjMbvaSpQ