The first month of the 2022/23 season is done and if anything, it has told us that it is going to be another topsy-turvy year in the world of Reading FC.
Relegation favourites before a ball had been kicked, Paul Ince’s side began the campaign with defeat away at Blackpool and chastening 4-0 away losses at Rotherham United and Sheffield United laid bare the flaws in the team. A first round Carabao Cup exit against League Two Stevenage, albeit with a largely academy-based team, didn’t do much for optimism either.
But there has also been cause for excitement. The Royals strung together three successive wins and clean sheets against Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and Millwall - all top half sides last season - after getting their first victory on the board against Cardiff City. We head into September sitting fifth in the table. Not bad at all.
It’s time for you to decide your best performer from the opening eight games, with this award stretching back into July for the very first time thanks to the World Cup-enforced early start to the campaign.
In alphabetical order, your nominees are...
Average rating: 6.83 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Sheffield United A), 2nd (Middlesbrough H)
It is testament to Hoilett that he has been one of Reading’s best performers so far and has been nominated for this award despite playing out of position for the majority of the opening month - he started the campaign playing right wing-back before moving across to the left against Middlesbrough. The Canadian is surprisingly effective defensively but he has been a real threat going forward, particularly with several dangerous crosses. His screamer against Blackburn is a contender for goal of the month too.
Average rating: 6.57 / Man of the match awards: 1st Cardiff (H), 3rd (Blackpool A), 3rd (Rotherham A), 3rd (Sheffield United A)
Forget the accusations that he is only in this team because of his dad, Ince has proven more than worthy of his spot so far this season. Hard work is going to be key for Reading this year and no one has played more tirelessly than the 30-year-old, who has pressed from the front in his new role in a strike pairing. Ince’s stand out performance came against Cardiff, when he won the penalty that Shane Long scored before netting the winning goal in the second half as he rifled in a stunner with plenty of speed and swerve.
Average rating: 6.17 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Rotherham A), 1st (Blackburn H), 3rd (Stevenage H)
It was clear from Loum’s debut against Stevenage in the cup that he was going to be a key player for Reading this season on loan from Porto. Already a cult hero, the Senegalese international dominates the midfield with his aggression but also skill on the ball. That makes him exactly the sort of combative player you want in the middle of the park - he ranks first in the squad for both successful tackles (19) and successful dribbles (13). He’s the owner of a fantastic chant too. LOUM LOUM LOUM LOUM!
Average rating: 6.43 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Blackpool A), 2nd (Sheffield United A), 3rd (Middlesbrough H)
Perhaps Yiadom didn’t stand out as much as the other three candidates on this shortlist, but he was an understated key cog in the backline. The new skipper is Mr Reliable and quiet but consistent performances from him will go a long way this season. Yiadom started the campaign playing as a right centre-back in a back three which meant we didn’t see the best of him going forward, but his displays since moving to wing-back have been encouraging. Played his part in three successive clean sheets.
Who is your Player of the Month for July/August? Vote in the poll below or, if it doesn’t show up on your device, click this link.