Last season, Reading were cruelly denied a return to the Premier League after a penalty shootout defeat to Huddersfield at Wembley. The Royals have failed to regroup and it’s been a stark contrast this campaign.
After finishing third last season, it was expected that Reading would be there or thereabouts again this time around. However, Reading have found themselves embroiled in a relegation dogfight at times this season. Jaap Stam has found himself out of a job and Paul Clement is now in the hot seat at the Madejski Stadium.
The Royals lost a number of players that started in last years Playoff final during the summer. Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi moved to the Saudi Arabian League and was replaced by Vito Mannone. Danny Williams joined Huddersfield for £1.8m and Lewis Grabban went back to Bournemouth. Despite this, Reading managed to keep hold of a number of key players and went into this season with a solid nucleus that, on paper, looked capable of challenging for promotion once again.
A key factor in the Royals turgid season can be attributed to the lack of goals throughout the side. New signings Modou Barrow and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson both lead the goalscoring charts with ten goals each. The lack of a seasoned striker has become apparent throughout the course of the season. Jaap Stam elected to spend £7m on Sone Aluko from Fulham, but the striker has only found the back of the net on three occasions.
Clement’s side also have the fourth leakiest defence in the league, even though they managed to keep hold of both Liam Moore and Tiago Ilori in the summer. The side from Berkshire have conceded 63 goals this season, conceding lots and scoring little is a recipe for disaster in any league.
After a long winless run, Reading sacked Stam and hired Clement to save them from the dreaded drop. Relegation now looks unlikely and Clement will be hoping for a good summer to craft a Royals squad in his own image which can challenge at the top end of the table once again.