Reading return to the Select Car Leasing Stadium this afternoon as they take on Coventry City, with the home side looking to win their first Championship point(s) since the early stages of January.
The hosts have won just one point from a possible 21 in 2022 thus far, summing up what has been a disastrous calendar year both on and off the pitch for the Royals thus far heading into their 150th anniversary celebrations.
In fairness, the away side haven’t exactly been in the best form since November either - but have fared much better as opposed to Veljko Paunovic’s men and already performed well enough in the early stages of the campaign to secure their second-tier status for next term.
Mark Robins’ men, unlike the hosts, are on the way up after having their own ownership problems - but will their stability off the pitch and quality on it be enough for them to pick up three points this afternoon.
Let’s wait and see. For now, here’s everything you need to know ahead of this clash with the Sky Blues.
What? Championship Matchday 30
Who? Coventry City
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Saturday 12th February 2022
Opposition Manager? Mark Robins
Pre-Match Thoughts and One To Watch)
The first thing that has to be addressed is the demonstration - and I will be one of those (trains permitting!) that will be there at 1pm. A lot of things had to be weighed up in making that decision - but here are a few bullets points as to why I will be participating:
- Veljko Paunovic isn’t the man to take us forward. He’s been dealt a rough hand and that cannot be denied - and we all hate the culture of hiring and firing. But it’s clear his time has come to an end, reinforced by his bizarre interviews with Tim Dellor recently. For me, we’re going down to League One if he’s still in charge in a few weeks. I wish him all the best and I will be supporting the boys today - but his time is up.
- I hit the panic button after the STAR meeting to be honest - because it doesn’t seem as though officials behind the scenes know exactly what to do to get us out of our current mess. The strategy desperately needs to change - or be made!
- Yesterday’s statement showed the current disconnect between the club’s hierarchy and the fans. You can appreciate why they can’t disclose whether they have the ability to sack Paunovic or not - but the message in general wasn’t good enough. There was a lot of ‘what’ (“Refocus and begin to build”) and not how. What strategy will you employ? Or are you going to hang by the coattails of the EFL’s rules and not create your own vision alongside that whilst remaining in the necessary restrictions?
- We need more answers on Kia Joorabchian as editor Simeon Pickup outlined. The failure to address these questions will make things worse.
- As part of C1871/EPR’s medium-term aim, we want a different recruitment strategy. For me, that includes having a Director of Football at the helm if we can afford to have one. Not only would they help in bringing players in - but they will also be the bridge between the academy and first team and provide the club with a clear direction. We’ve been directionless since not having a DoF at the helm.
- This recruitment strategy needs to include players that are up and coming. Having a Scott Dann or Michael Morrison is important - but recruiting too many of those players who are on the way down (inc. Danny Drinkwater) doesn’t help in our quest for success.
- Some are scared of upsetting the owners and I can understand their point - because the Dai siblings pulling the plug would be disastrous for us. However, if there’s an extremely negative reaction to this protest from the club’s board, it shows they shouldn’t be anywhere near the football club. I’m sure we’re all willing to work with Mr and Ms Dai to devise a better long-term plan. They have injected plenty of money into the club - now is the time to create a better strategy that sees success on the pitch, with the duo getting value for money off it. At the same time though, they need to be accountable for some of the poor decisions that have been made in recent years.
- A fan board would be nice too, please. Getting voices of all supporters heard, regardless of their opinion, is important. And to have wide-ranging opinions can help the club come to better decisions.
- I personally feel as if I’ve moaned far too much via TTE articles not to take part in this protest - it’s put up or shut up time for me. Communicating through words via this website continues to be important and that’s something I (along with others) will do for as long as necessary to try and get us on the right tracks. But that needs to be cemented with actual bodies and a big thanks go to the organisers who arranged today’s event. Hopefully it can help to make some sort of difference.
Note: These are just my personal thoughts, I can’t speak for everyone else. Everyone will have their own clear reasons for protesting and C1871/EPR have detailed the clear focus on what they want to achieve - something that has given us something clear to aim for.
For those that aren’t going to the demonstration, your opinion is fully respected and we hope the boys can pull off a victory for all of us! Not protesting makes you no less of a fan - but like many others - I’ve hit the panic button and now feel it’s the right time to make our voices heard in this way.
In terms of what happens next, a manifesto outlining a clear vision for our future would probably be handy - but I can’t really do that by myself without the input of others to make it more representative. It would also be one hell of a task to undertake individually because I’m in full-time employment - but perhaps that’s an idea that can materialise at some point.
I just feel it’s important to have a plan ready if the club asks us what we want to see and what exactly wants to happen. We should only be fans, not steering the ship but in this extraordinary situation, it would be good for us to have our own vision. After all, we know our club better than anyone else.
The Last Meeting
Coventry 2-1 Reading
- Reading have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 18 competitive matches - a shocking, shocking total.
- The Royals have gone unbeaten in their last six home meetings with this afternoon’s opponents.
- The Sky Blues have won just two of their last 11 league fixtures. A reason for hope?
- Mark Robins’ side have gone unbeaten in eight of their 13 Championship games on the road this term though - a decent record.
My lineup: Hein, Rahman, Morrison, Holmes, Yiadom, Dele-Bashiru, Rinomhota, Hoilett, Swift, Ince, Joao
Between the sticks, Karl Hein retains his place to provide some stability in there. Switching goalkeepers again probably isn’t the best idea and although Hein’s performance was a little shaky at times in midweek, this is a new experience for him so you have to cut him some slack.
Baba Rahman and Andy Yiadom start as the full-backs again with Michael Morrison and Tom Holmes in the middle, although the latter probably needs to come out of the starting lineup when Tom McIntyre or Scott Dann returns to full fitness.
One man that is dropped is Josh Laurent who has been poor for a while - and Tom Dele-Bashiru drops into a deeper position with Andy Rinomhota alongside him. That allows John Swift to come back into the starting lineup after making a decent impact in the latter stages of Wednesday’s game at Ashton Gate.
Junior Hoilett and Tom Ince line up on the left and right-hand side respectively - and the latter did reasonably well on his debut - though he does need to focus on his end product.
And up top, Lucas Joao starts as the main man once again.
In terms of the prediction, I just can’t see where we’ll get a win from, even with a huge crowd and the 150th celebration. I’ll go with a 2-0 away victory.
Score Prediction: Reading 0-2 Coventry City
Other Championship Fixtures
Huddersfield Town vs Sheffield United (12:30pm KO)
Barnsley vs Queens Park Rangers
Birmingham City vs Luton Town
Blackpool vs AFC Bournemouth
Hull City vs Fulham
Middlesbrough vs Derby County
Millwall vs Cardiff City
Nottingham Forest vs Stoke City
Peterborough United vs Preston North End
Swansea City vs Bristol City (Sunday 13th February; 1pm KO)
West Bromwich Albion vs Blackburn Rovers (Monday 14th February; 1pm KO)