After January’s horror show, there were signs of improvement from Reading in February as they took seven points from six games to put a bit of daylight between them and the relegation zone.
The month started with the same toxic atmosphere as we’d seen throughout January, with defeats against Bristol City (2-1) and Coventry City (3-2) preceding a poor 0-0 draw against relegation rivals Peterborough United. A win finally came - the first in 13 games - away at Preston as the Royals defeated the Lilywhites 3-2, but Veljko Paunovic’s long-awaited departure was confirmed half an hour after the final whistle.
Interim boss Paul Ince got off to a perfect start and made it back-to-back wins by beating Birmingham 2-1, before there was a stark reminder that that there is still plenty of work to do as Reading slumped to a 4-1 defeat away at Blackpool to end the month.
Now it’s time to pick your best performer from February from our shortlist of four based off of our player ratings. In alphabetical order...
Average rating: 6.33 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Preston A)
After returning from injury and getting up to speed in January, Joao really hit his side last month as he bagged five goals in six games. It’s great to have a reliable goalscorer on the pitch and although he may have anonymous periods, Joao knows where the back of the net is and has the power and the skill to finish expertly from a range of scenarios. His brace and an assist against Preston was one of the standout individual performances of the campaign.
Average rating: 6.50 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Birmingham H), 1st (Blackpool A), 2nd (Bristol City A), 2nd (Coventry H), 2nd (Preston A)
January’s player of the month continued to be quietly brilliantly in the middle of the park - he finished in the top two of five of our six man of the match votes. While Joao’s return has been crucial, Rinomhota has also made a huge difference since coming back from injury with several hard-working and tireless displays which have upped the whole team’s intensity. He perhaps goes under the radar slightly, but the academy graduate is a key cog.
Average rating: 6.17 / Man of the match awards: 3rd (Bristol City A), 3rd (Preston A), 3rd (Birmingham H)
Swift is still not quite back to his best, but there were still flashes of his brilliance last month as he scored his first goals since October and also got assists for Joao against Preston and Birmingham. Swift is relishing having the Portuguese striker back in the team as it gives him an outlet to link up with and a target from set-pieces. Last month also saw him become the first player in the Championship this season to register 10+ goals and 10+ assists.
Average rating: 6.33 / Man of the match awards: 2nd (Birmingham H), 3rd (Peterborough A), 3rd (Blackpool A)
Yiadom stepped up as one of the squad’s leaders in February and consistently got his individual jobs done even if the team weren’t winning. He is pretty much as good as full-backs come in the Championship, defensively sound but also eager to burst forward and be a key part of attacks. Yiadom also got his first goal involvements of the season last month - a headed goal against Coventry and a strong run to assist Joao’s opener at Blackpool.
Who is your Player of the Month for February? Vote in the poll below or, if it doesn’t show up on your device, click this link.