You can often tell how poorly Reading are doing by the number of decent candidates there are for player of the month.
The Royals won once and lost four times in August, in addition to being easily dispatched from the League Cup by Swansea City. Performances haven’t been awful across the board, but they got steadily worse over the course of the opening weeks of the season.
I won’t beat around the bush, there’s only really one contender for this month’s award. He had a good August regardless of others’ performances, but if you do put his displays into the context of what was going on around him, he really was head and shoulders above the rest.
Average rating: 6.2
Man of the match awards: Stoke City A (1st), Preston North End H (1st), Bristol City H (3rd), Coventry City A (2nd), Huddersfield Town A (2nd)
Surely the winner of this award, Swift has been Reading’s standout player so far this season, showing the all-round quality and end product that we know he’s capable of.
He’s found the net three times already: capitalising on a mistake at the back to score at Stoke City on the opening day, rounding off a well-worked team move against Preston North End and converting a spot kick at Coventry City. Swift’s also contributed two assists for Liam Moore: from a corner at Stoke in the first case, and happening to be the player that fed the centre back for his fine individual goal at home to Bristol City. Those five goal involvements put him joint second in the Championship behind Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (six).
Swift has taken two MOTM awards so far (Stoke and Preston). Plus, he’s the only Reading player who’s featured regularly to have averaged above a 6/10 in our player ratings. Next best after him is...
Average rating: 6
Man of the match awards: Preston North End H (2nd), Bristol City H (1st)
Before his unfortunate injury that ruled him out of the trip to Huddersfield Town, not to mention the next few months, Azeez looked like being Reading’s break-out star of 2021/22. He took to first-team football excellently, whether on the right wing or as a centre forward, showing few signs of nervousness at Championship level.
He even managed to find the net a few times, turning home from close range against Preston and Bristol City. While not the most difficult chances he’ll face, those cases did demonstrate a keen poacher’s instinct.
While being part of the collective Huddersfield debacle may have pushed his rating lower, Azeez still came out of August with a very respectable average rating of 6/10. That’s 0.4 higher than the next-best regular player, Rafael, whose lack of clean sheets meant I couldn’t really include him on this shortlist.
Average rating: 5.2
Man of the match awards: Stoke City A (3rd)
I’m scraping the barrel with a centre back who’s been a consistent part of a bad defence, but Moore’s two impressive goals in August sneak him into contention to bulk out the shortlist. He powered home a header on the opening day at Stoke before rifling one in from range at home to Bristol City a couple of games later.
The less said about the Huddersfield game though, which pushed his overall average down from 6/10 to 5.2/10, the better.
Vote for your POTM
Which of these three players is your choice? You can vote in the poll just below or, if it doesn’t display on your device, you can get at it through this link.