Apart from being higher than one could have perhaps expected from a team hamstrung by FFP rules and depending on loanees and free agents, there are many signs of encouragement, but also still room for improvement.
The ability to bounce back after taking heavy defeats from Rotherham United, Sheffield United and Sunderland is something that Reading lacked last year and will need to be produced again this season. Much of this has come from Paul Ince and his coaching staff instilling that the players cannot simply feel sorry for themselves and need to get back on track.
Beating teams we should beat
You might be thinking this is pretty obvious, but it’s something that we hadn’t been accustomed to. Last season under Veljko Paunovic we had some noticeable shock results including beating Fulham, but all too often we would go on and lose the next game. Given the vein of form the team was on at the time, it nearly cost us dear, given where we finished.
I know it’s early in the season but the points we are picking up have come against sides such as Wigan Athletic, Cardiff City and Millwall, which Reading would have been targeting points against at the start of the season. This run gives us a buffer when we have bad patches later on this season.
Holding onto a lead
For me the most impressive thing is our ability to hold onto a lead. This has been desperately missed, almost you could say since the Brian McDermott team of 2011/12. Reading so far this season haven’t lost from a winning position - that is quite telling given recent years.
How we have done it is down to the coaching staff setting the players up in a rigid system that has been followed apart from the Sunderland game. Applying the dark arts has stopped momentum that a team might have - by taking our time on throw-ins and goal kicks.
Not killing off games
Not killing games has been Reading’s Achilles heel and was once again displayed in the three wins against Stoke City, Millwall and Wigan. Shane Long and Jeff Hendrick missed chances in the Millwall match to kill off the contest. While this could just be described as an off day, this is a theme, with Yakou Meite and Tom Ince missing chances against Wigan.
This campaign has been somewhat of a rollercoaster of a season. So much so, we still don’t know what we are going to get from this Reading team each week - sometimes lacking structure and being all over the place. Playing Saturday-Tuesday and not having the right depth - made worse by our shocking injuries - results in us having to use the same 13 to 14 players and not being able to bring fresh legs on.
What we can expect from this Reading team going forward?
Much will depend on our ability to keep players fit. Hopefully if we can get Naby Sarr, Ovie Ejaria and Shane Long back after the international break, and if we can keep injuries to a minimum, we can get top half and way clear of relegation.