We’ve reached the final stage of our squad review, so of course today we’re taking a look at Reading’s centre-forwards, this time with the analysis coming from Adam. You can find the December version of this article here.
Everyone gets a grade from A to E based on how the season’s gone for them overall: very good (A), good (B), OK (C), bad (D), very bad (E). Rather than judging them solely on their performances, we’ll also factor in how well these players have lived up to expectations, how often they’ve been able to actually play, and more.
I do feel for Lucas Joao because he wasn’t utilised properly by Paul Ince and that’s one of the former England international’s biggest crimes. This is one reason why the Angola international hasn’t been as prolific as he usually is - and his limited game time hasn’t exactly helped his cause either.
For me, he wasn’t good enough towards the latter stages of the season for me to give him anything above a C overall, but the 2022/23 campaign wasn’t a fair reflection of his spell at the club.
It’s a shame that his time in Berkshire ended on a sour note. We don’t know the full story of what happened - but he hasn’t exactly come out and denied that he refused to play at Huddersfield Town. That saga hasn’t had an effect on his grade.
Mid-season grade: B
End-of-season grade: C
Injuries have been a frustration for Yakou Meite once again, being limited to just 27 appearances in all competitions during the 2022/23 campaign. Scoring four times and recording three assists, he has been a threat when on the pitch, but I can’t give him a high grade because of his limited availability.
I can’t see him extending his stay here which is a bit of a shame, but we can’t afford to keep him on his current wage - not just because we’re going down to the third tier, but also because of his injury troubles in recent years. He has been my favourite player since his arrival though and you can’t fault his effort, so fair play to him.
In terms of the second half of his season, he has been missing during crucial games and that’s why his grade has to come down. As the Wigan Athletic (H) game showed though, he could have been a real asset if he was available.
Mid-season grade: B
End-of-season grade: C
Unfortunately things just haven’t worked out brilliantly for Shane Long on his return to Berkshire, scoring just once in 2023, with that goal coming against Watford in the FA Cup. He looked brilliant against Blackburn Rovers (H) and has been an asset at times, but I certainly wouldn’t have taken him back for another year.
Scoring just twice in 32 competitive appearances and spending a chunk of the season out injured, his second spell at the Select Car Leasing Stadium can’t be classed a success. Is retirement the best option for him now? Probably, but his achievements at the club can’t be forgotten. All the best to him for the future.
Mid-season grade: C+
End-of-season grade: D
Andy Carroll was an asset but would I have him starting next season? Probably not. Fair play to him for keeping himself fit and his work rate can’t be faulted, but is he more of a help or a hindrance to our cause? People will have mixed opinions on that.
His goalscoring record during 2022/23 wasn’t bad, managing to get himself on the scoresheet nine times in 32 displays. Those goals helped us to put more points on the board, but he arguably cost us two against Luton Town (H) with his handball.
We’ve moved on from that now, but his moments of madness against Manchester United and the Hatters have to be taken into account.
Mid-season grade: C-
End-of-season grade: C+
It’s perhaps unfair to give him a grade considering he hasn’t appeared too much, but he did score a goal at Preston North End and that has to be the highlight of his season.
He was given the chance against Burnley to prove his worth from the start - and it’s just a shame that he wasn’t able to make too much of an impact against the Clarets.
I can’t give him more than a C-, but he has a bright future here and will make more of an impact next season.
Mid-season grade: N/A
End-of-season grade: C-
Basil Tuma didn’t make an appearance during the second half of the campaign but could put pen to paper on a professional contract to keep him at the club. He started one game in the League Cup in the first half of the season.
The in-contract Jahmari Clarke is set to be at the club next season, although it’s unclear whether he will go out on loan. Scoring just one time in four appearances for Forest Green Rovers during his time at Duncan Ferguson’s side, it’s a shame he was prevented from making more of an impact due to injury, something that would have allowed him to build momentum ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.