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Grade Pauno And The Dais: February 2022

We’re not expecting many 5/5s for this one...

Reading v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship - Select Car Leasing Stadium Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

It’s a foregone conclusion that Pauno and the Dais won’t come out well in this approval rating. Perhaps we should temporarily rename the feature ‘Disapproval Rating’ instead?

The last time we asked you to grade them - in September - they came out poorly. Pauno received an average of 2.63/5 while the owners got 2.29/5; in each case those were the lowest numbers they themselves have got in the approval ratings series. Although Pauno’s number wasn’t the worst ever for a manager (hi Paul Clement, 1.9 in October 2018), the Dais’ score was the absolute low point for Reading owners.

Surely their scores will drop further this time round.

For some further reading on all this, we collated your thoughts on more specific issues at Reading in the ‘State of Reading FC Survey’. Olly and Marc had their say on the future of Veljko Paunovic while Dave discussed fans’ lack of trust in the owners.

First to Veljko Paunovic, for whom things have gotten particularly toxic in the last few weeks. Pauno went into January with the team in poor but not catastrophic form. However, a string of defeats and poor performances (some more humiliating than others) have pushed the vast majority of fans into the ‘Pauno Out’ camp.

While attacking play hasn’t been good (bar some encouragement in the 4-3 defeat to Huddersfield Town), the defence has been particularly shocking. Reading have been shredded by Fulham, Huddersfield and QPR, and even on comparatively better days they’ve still managed to leak goals to surrender winning positions: Derby County, Kidderminster Harriers, Middlesbrough.

Granted, Pauno’s had the mitigating circumstance of a dreadful situation with injuries, Covid and latterly two full backs playing at AFCON. That has not only denied him options in the first team but also made building match sharpness and cohesion difficult.

But he’s really not helped himself with his post-match comms. Pauno generally fails to take personal responsibility for the team’s failure or come to terms with how bad things have gotten. The post-QPR “Apart from the four goals, I thought we played well” quote invited derision and anger from the fans who’d put up with that performance.

He should really have been sacked a while ago and it’s unclear what’s keeping him in a job. It could simply be that the club either outright can’t afford to change manager or they’re hoping he turns things around so funds can be saved. However, as thing stand a turnaround is looking increasingly unlikely.

Things aren’t much better for the owners; fans’ worries about their running of the club have become so profound that a protest is set to be held before the Coventry City match. Poor communication from the Dais, a lack of clarity over Reading’s long-term strategy and anger over the apparent involvement of Kia Joorabchian behind the scenes are not new concerns, but they’ve come to the fore as results and performances have collapsed in recent weeks.

The Dais’ long-term financial mismanagement of the club also reached a head. In November the Royals were deducted six points by the EFL and agreed to a business plan lasting until the end of next season. Those things are entirely the Dais’ responsibility and have hampered Reading’s chances of staying in the Championship.

It’s also worrying that we’re now into February and the squad’s short- and long-term strength is concerning. No new defender or striker was recruited in January, despite those being priority positions, with a back-up goalkeeper (Karl Hein) and winger (Tom Ince) arriving instead. No progress has been made on agreeing new deals with current players; the majority of Reading’s squad are out of contract this summer.

On the flipside, Reading did make some progress on cutting the wage bill. Rafael headed to Cruzeiro on a free transfer while loan exits for Liam Moore (Stoke City) and George Puscas (Pisa) set up those players to be moved on permanently in the summer. Moore’s exit followed the defender being stripped of the captaincy - a move that went down well for a significant number of fans.

Grade Pauno and the Dais

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