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Vote For Your Reading Player Of The 2020/21 Season

You’ve got six candidates to choose from for your TTE player of the season.

Reading v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Putting together this player of the season award vote has been a lot more enjoyable than in previous years. Yes, 2020/21 ended in disappointment for Reading, but that wasn’t for a lack of stand-out individual performances across the course of the campaign, whether in defence, midfield or the final third.

We’ve narrowed the voting down to a shortlist of six players: Tom Holmes, Lucas Joao, Josh Laurent, Michael Morrison, Michael Olise and Omar Richards. All of them have one of our writers making the case for why they should be Reading’s TTE player of the season.

In truth, other players could have made the shortlist. Liam Moore, Andy Rinomhota and Rafael were dependable throughout the season but didn’t quite do enough to make the shortlist. Yakou Meite was in fine form in front of goal but didn’t play enough, missing half the campaign through injury.

You can vote for your choice at the bottom of the piece. To help you with your choice, we’ve added in a few stats from these players’ seasons.

Tom Holmes

TTE average player rating: 6.1/10

Man of the match awards: 4

Player of the month awards: 0

Goals: 0

Assists: 2

Luton Town v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Kenilworth Road Photo by Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images

Although I went with Josh Laurent as POTS in my Huddersfield Town match preview, we must bring Tom Holmes into the conversation too. I know this suggestion is a bit left field and he would probably be more in contention for young POTS or the most improved player, but he deserves a nomination.

Unlike Tom McIntyre, Holmes didn’t have the chance in the latter stages of the 2019/20 campaign under Mark Bowen to make a real impression and fully adapt to Championship football. With Lewis Gibson also coming in last summer, the academy graduate wouldn’t have expected to feature regularly.

However, in the absence of the likes of Andy Yiadom and Michael Morrison, he has stepped in admirably and put in solid performances against some of the best teams in the Championship, including Watford (H) and Swansea City (A). There’s no doubt Holmes is better at centre back than at full back, but he was an adequate replacement for Andy Yiadom at several points throughout the season and without him stepping up to the plate, the Royals would have finished lower than seventh.

His performance at the weekend was also very mature alongside someone who has rarely played in central defence before. Let’s not forget, he had a terrible afternoon at Norwich City in the previous game and could have easily crumbled on Saturday. But he responded extremely well and could be set to start next season if Liam Moore and/or Michael Morrison depart.

To come straight from the Belgian second division and settle into the Championship so well, I can only take my hat off to him and say well done. This is particularly impressive considering we were expecting to keep Gabriel Osho last summer, potentially putting an end to Holmes’ Reading career.

Now is the time to get him tied down to a new deal with his contract running out next summer.

By Adam Jones

Lucas Joao

TTE average player rating: 5.9/10

Man of the match awards: 4

Player of the month awards: 2

Goals: 22 (Championship 19, League Cup 3)

Assists: 7

Bristol City v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Ashton Gate Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

It’s funny how the player of the season vote works. Call it recency bias, but generally those who end the campaign well boost their chances of picking up the award. For poor old Lucas Joao, it’s been the reverse. The striker started the season in sensational form, but his post-January drop off means he won’t get as much love as he should for this accolade.

Sure, it is hard to ignore the penalty misses and his open-goal gaffe against Barnsley and wonder what might have been, but the reality is that Reading would not even have been in playoff contention if it weren’t for Lucas Joao. A perfect hat-trick in the EFL Cup first round against Colchester set the tone for the Portuguese to net 17 times in his first 24 games, making him well in the race for the Championship golden boot by mid-February.

Highlights include his brace to singlehandedly turn the game around against Huddersfield Town at the start of January and scoring the third in Reading’s first-half rout of Bournemouth later that month, via a superb bit of skill to set up the chance.

Joao’s goals showcased his ability as the perfect all-round striker. He has the strength and agility to muscle past players and get in good positions, but also possesses mesmeric skill on the ball to open up chances for himself. That’s without mentioning his clinical finishing ability. No Championship defender will have enjoyed playing against the 27-year-old this season simply because of his toolbox of attributes that make him impossible to predict.

He’s not perfect, but Joao is up there as one of Reading’s best strikers of the modern era.

By Olly Allen

Josh Laurent

TTE average player rating: 6.1/10

Man of the match awards: 6

Player of the month awards: 1

Goals: 3

Assists: 3

Reading v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The people’s champion. From the moment the club’s official POTS poll went online, it was clear who the fans favoured.

Can Josh Laurent do the double and bag the TTE award too? It’s been far from a shoe-in over the years with club winners Andy Rinomhota (2019) and Liam Moore (2018) ousted by TTE favourites Andy Yiadom and Mo Barrow respectively.

But Laurent has done more than enough to earn our accolade for a season in which he’s embodied the Royals’ rise.

A free transfer from League One, there was a quiet sense of optimism that this was good business for a mid-table Championship team and Laurent would have been praised for a workmanlike and unspectacular debut year.

Instead, he formed an absolutely essential part of the XI, contributed all over the pitch as a definition box-to-box midfielder, worked his socks off every week, and did it all with heart and a smile the club can be very proud of.

By Marc Mayo

Michael Morrison

TTE average player rating: 6.4/10

Man of the match awards: 3

Player of the month awards: 1

Goals: 4

Assists: 1

Reading v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On a shortlist full of excellent candidates, Michael Morrison is the easiest to overlook. He doesn’t stand out for his match-winning goals, moments of creative brilliance, impending transfer to Bayern Munich or surprise success after moving from League One or the Belgian second tier.

And yet, the importance Morrison has to this team must not be overlooked. He’s been a man mountain throughout this campaign, giving Reading a level of organisation and command at the back that simply wouldn’t be there otherwise. That’s been reflected in Morro’s average player rating, 6.4 - the highest of anyone in the squad.

Having such a rock at the heart of defence is what good sides are truly made of.

Reading have kept 17 clean sheets in 2020/21 - the exact same number as in the play-off campaign of 2016/17. But while the Royals relied so heavily on Ali Al-Habsi’s individual heroics back then, how often this season have we had to call on Rafael’s? Rarely - and for me that’s down to the quiet authority that Morrison exudes onto Reading’s entire defensive structure.

The Royals have had defensive problems this season, granted, but you’d be hard-pressed to find examples of it being Morrison at fault. Unlike others on this shortlist, he’s a truly consistent performer whose level stays high regardless of the team’s form.

When he’s not in the side, you see the consequences. Reading played 11 matches without Morrison after his injury against Blackburn Rovers. Just two of those ended in victory and two in a clean sheet. Those figures both drop to one if you exclude the 3-0 win over 10-man, bottom-of-the-table Sheffield Wednesday.

And he’s a fox in the box too. His four goals - two powering headers, one poacher’s finish and a mazy run - put him joint fourth in the scoring charts. We don’t call him Morrodonna for nothing.

By Simeon Pickup

Michael Olise

TTE average player rating: 6.2/10

Man of the match awards: 4

Player of the month awards: 0

Goals: 7

Assists: 12

Bristol City v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Ashton Gate Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

In my opinion, it’s simple: Michael Olise is the most gifted footballer our academy has ever produced. Gylfi was good, he was very good - but I don’t remember him making football look as easy as Olise does. He just makes everything look so effortless. The arrogance, the flair, the elegance. It’s all just a joy to behold when it comes together. And, luckily for us, it’s come together more often than not this season.

It’s been one hell of a season for the youngster; the most chances created by any teenager, 12 assists in the league (second to only eventual player of the season Emi Buendia), seven goals, a place in the EFL Championship Team of the Season and, to top it all off, he was crowned EFL Young Player of the Season, too. That should tell you all you need to know about how good he’s been this season, but it’s the things he does that don’t get in the stat books that stand out for me.

It’s the discipline, determination and hard work off the ball. It’s the escaping from a tight corner in a way that Harry Houdini would be proud of. It’s the nonchalant moments of skill that leave you lost for words. And, do you know what the scary thing is? He’s nowhere near the finished article yet.

Unfortunately, in terms of Olise’s time at the club, I think the writing’s on the wall - and has been for a while. I do not expect him to be donning the blue and white hoops come the first day of next season, but God, I bloody hope he is.

By Harry Chafer

Omar Richards

TTE average player rating: 6.2/10

Man of the match awards: 2

Player of the month awards: 1

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

Reading v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

I’ve been given 200-300 words to put forward my case. I’ll give you two: Bayern Munich.

I could leave it at that, but I won’t because that would be “lazy journalism”. At present, it’s still a rumour, but with the season Omar Richards has had, no one would be surprised if it turned out to be true.

At the end of the 2019/2020 campaign, Richards was the only “senior” left back at the club. No one expected the impact he would go on to have this season. 42 appearances across all competitions (of which 38 of those were starts), 80% tackle success rate, the most tackles across the entire league on average per game and an average match rating of 6.2 across the season for our player ratings, with only two players above him.

For a 23 year-old, in his first season as a regular in the toughest league in the world, he ain’t done too bad against the heavyweights of the Championship. Defensively astute and positionally aware, Richards has developed his defensive qualities to the point where, had we brought in back-up for him, it would have looked like a silly signing. He has kept himself fit, injury free and available, and has forced Pauno to put him down as one of the first names on the team sheet.

Omar has been a real success story on that left-hand side for us this season. His athleticism and speed, combined with his never-ending commitment, has reportedly persuaded the best club in the world to hand him a four-year deal.

It’s not hard to see why.

By Ben Thomas

Vote for your POTS

So those are your candidates, now you get to make your choice. We’d like you to rank those six in order of preference - one is the highest, six is the lowest. The poll should display just below this text, but if it doesn’t, please use this link.