Reading were so naff across the board in March that I seriously considered not running this Player of the Month vote, but in the end I managed to come up with two decent candidates.
This was probably Reading’s worst month of the season so far - the first without a win in any competition. The Royals lost four out of five, drawing the other game, only managing to score twice. March opened with a battering at the Riverside (5-0) before also featuring some flat home performances in winnable matches.
All of that meant the overall average rating came out at a dismal 4.76/10. That’s not only easily the worst of the season so far (surpassing November’s 5.27/10), but it’s also the worst month performance-wise we’ve ever had by way of our ratings. Otherwise, April/May 2018 (when Reading limped to safety under Paul Clement - 4.86/10) and January 2022 (the less said about that the better - 4.94/10) are the only other months to come out below 5/10 since our records began in 2014/15.
On a brighter note, two players at least managed to come out of March with sufficient credit to be Player of the Month candidates. So without further ado...
Average rating: 5.75 / Man of the match awards: 2nd (Millwall H), 1st (Blackburn Rovers A), 2nd (Hull City H)
The Chelsea loanee was a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal March. His highlight was undoubtedly the Blackburn Rovers match when he scored a peach from outside the box to draw the Royals level. Bar being a really nice finish, it was Reading’s first league goal on the road in 2023, the first open-play league goal on the road since December, and first good open-play league goal on the road since October (I’m excluding a deflected long shot and close-range tap-in at Birmingham City before Christmas).
In fact, in conjunction with his two other long-range efforts that evening, Casadei accounted for 25% (3/12) of Reading’s shots on target in March. That says more about how bad the Royals have been going forwards recently, but if anyone can set a higher standard, they’re due some credit.
He was otherwise pretty good in March, registering an average rating of 5.75/10. That score was dragged down by being part of an all-round horror show at Middlesbrough (4/10), but he looked promising in home games against Millwall and Hull City (6/10 each time).
It remains to be seen how well he’ll kick on after the international break, but as things stand I’m really looking forward to seeing more of him. Casadei being able to build on the promise he showed in March could be a key component in keeping Reading in the division.
Average rating: 6.00 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Middlesbrough A), 1st (Hull City H)
The best of the rest, Guinness-Walker had a solid March and registered the highest average rating of anyone in the squad. In fact, he was the only player to make it to 6/10 (the first time this season we’ve had just one squad member manage it in a month).
While he came out March with two MOTM wins, the first (Middlesbrough) was by default as he was pretty much the only non-bad player that bad, while the latter (Hull City) was earned on the back of a promising appearance off the bench. That appearance included one of our best bits of skill of the month:
Just in case you needed a reminder @NestaGW @SoccerAM pic.twitter.com/CODHbSV83T— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) March 25, 2023
Who is your Player of the Month for March? Vote in the poll below or, if it doesn’t show up on your device, click this link.