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Stats Corner: Madejski Misery

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The Royals’ recent form on home turf doesn’t make for great reading...

Reading v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Reading beat their record at the Madejski for most home defeats at this stage of the season by one day.

On 27 February 2018, Reading were beaten 3-1 by Sheffield United, a similarly horrifying midweek affair in freezing temperatures and in front of a horribly sparse attendance. That was the ninth home defeat of what was a tumultuous bout of second season syndrome for Jaap Stam, and the fact that it seems an eternity since he was in charge just goes to illustrate the sorry state of affairs Reading have been in over the last two years both on and off the pitch.

The drubbing to Wigan on Wednesday was also defeat number nine of the season at home for a Reading side who have managed to fumble any chance of a successful top half finish by simply not turning up in RG2 throughout the season. If they were to, god forbid, lose a third successive home game to Barnsley on Saturday, then it would be only the third time that a Reading side has lost ten league games at home in the Madejski Stadium’s history.

Reading would go on to lose ten in total in the 2017/18 season, but only after Jaap Stam was sacked, losing just one more after that aforementioned Sheffield United game. The only other time Reading lost ten league games at the Madejski was in 2014/15, with the ninth and tenth defeats coming late in the campaign on the 22 April 25 April, part of a horrible slump in the latter part of the season. Last season Reading also lost nine home league matches, and had lost eight games by January 1. However, with just one defeat after that date (to a top of the league Leeds United side), the team managed to successfully overturn this dire form.

Therefore, the worrying trend this current season is that the home form has been consistently bad. As stated above, February 26 is the earliest in the season Reading have ever racked up nine home defeats at the Madejski, and with no sign that this is going to improve, it could make gruesome reading come May. It’s now highly unlikely that Reading won’t lose at least ten league home games this season, with six games left to play on home soil. Even in Reading’s relegation seasons from the Premier League, with defeats seemingly coming every week, we didn’t go into double figures, with eight at home in 2007/08 and seven in 2012/13. This means one thing: should Reading lose two more games at home this season, it will officially be the team’s worst ever campaign at the Madejski Stadium. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news…

Number of Reading home defeats since 2008/09

Season Games lost at home Date of 9th defeat Date of 10th defeat
Season Games lost at home Date of 9th defeat Date of 10th defeat
2008/09 6 N/A N/A
2009/10 6 N/A N/A
2010/11 4 N/A N/A
2011/12 4 N/A N/A
2012/13 7 N/A N/A
2013/14 5 N/A N/A
2014/15 10 22-April 25-April
2015/16 6 N/A N/A
2016/17 2 N/A N/A
2017/18 10 27-February 28-April
2018/19 9 12-March N/A
2019/20 9* 26-February N/A

If you look at the table above, it makes pretty awful reading for season ticket holders. In the last six seasons, Reading have lost 46 games out of a possible 132 at home. That’s a loss rate of 34.85%, meaning just over a third of all games played at the Madejski since August 2014 have ended in a Reading defeat.

What makes that worse is the win rate, with 56 victories in the last 132, giving a win rate of 42%. To have a win rate and loss rate so close is, quite frankly, very worrying indeed for a team that had previously only lost 32 games in the six seasons before that, or a loss rate of just 23%.

So, what’s been going wrong at home then? Many, if not all, Reading fans will have been asking exactly that since Wednesday night. From breaking down the stats of the last 12 seasons, and comparing them as separate six season chunks, the answer may be pretty obvious. Between 2014 and the present day, Reading have had seven managers. There is an overlap here that involves Nigel Adkins, but the point still stands. In the six seasons between 2008 and 2014, Reading had four managers, with three of those at least completing one full season. Since Nigel Adkins was sacked in December 2014, only one of the next six managers has completed a full season, Jaap Stam of course, and coincidentally the one full season that he had was Reading’s most successful at home of the last decade.

This turbulent approach to managers in recent years has clearly had a negative effect on Reading’s home form, the numbers are there to see in black and white. Perhaps only by giving a manager time, will they be able to turn the corner and build a solid foundation of home form. Whether that’s by giving Mark Bowen time, or giving his successor more than one season to bed in.