January was pretty much as bad as it gets for Reading. You would be hard-pressed to find a single high point in a month where Reading played seven games, lost six and drew one.
That includes a humiliating cup exit to non-league side Kidderminster Harriers, a record home league defeat (7-0) against Fulham and similarly drab performances against Luton Town (2-0) and Queens Park Rangers (4-0). Even the solitary point gained last month came in infuriating circumstances, as the Royals were 2-0 up against Derby County in the 86th minute before throwing away their lead.
But before we get on to this month’s award, a bit of housekeeping to do. With Reading’s final three fixtures of 2021 being postponed, the Royals ended up only playing twice in December and therefore we didn’t hold a Player of the Month vote. We do need a winner though, and a TTE tribunal has decided to award it to Tom Holmes, after the academy graduate scored his first senior goal with an overhead kick against Hull City. Congratulations, Tom.
For January’s award, the candidates in alphabetical order are...
Average rating: 4.40 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Kidderminster Harriers A), 1st (Huddersfield Town H)
There is a certain irony that George Puscas had his best month of the season but then left on loan on transfer deadline day to spend the rest of the campaign with Serie B side Pisa. Not that his performances in other months made it much of a competition. The Romanian striker finally got his first goals of the season - ending a nine-month drought - finding the net against Kidderminster and Huddersfield. That meant he was Reading’s joint-top scorer (with Junior Hoilett) in January. Go well in Italy, George.
Average rating: 5.00 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Luton Town H), 2nd (Middlesbrough A), 2nd (Huddersfield H), 2nd (QPR A)
Rinomhota returned from over three months on the sidelines and certainly made an impact despite results not going Reading’s way - the academy graduate finished in the top two of our man of the match votes in all four games that he started. Injuries meant that he was deployed in right midfield against Fulham and Luton and although he worked as hard as ever, he obviously looked more at home when given the opportunity to hustle and bustle in the centre. It’s good to have him back.
Average rating: 5.50 / Man of the match awards: 1st (QPR A), 3rd (Fulham H), 3rd (Middlesbrough A)
It says a lot about how bad Reading were in January that despite shipping 23 goals, goalkeeper Luke Southwood is still up for this award. A couple of errors did creep into the 24-year-old’s game last month - most notably against Derby and Huddersfield - but in general he was the man keeping the score down in most of the games. Southwood has already won three Player of the Month awards this season - since we started the accolade, no player has won four in a single campaign.
Who is your Player of the Month for January? Vote in the poll below or, if it doesn’t show up on your device, click this link.