A midweek game returns this week, so over to Vital Reading went I.
With thanks to Josh!
1) What are you expecting from the season?
At the start of the campaign, I was expecting nothing more than a relegation dogfight, despite others being slightly more optimistic with a mid table finish. However, having witnessed 12 games as a Reading fan, I am gradually starting to lose my optimistic nature. Saturday`s loss to Wigan really optimised our season so far, we play well for one half and take the lead, but just don`t turn up in the second and get outplayed and beat. The Everton game however portrayed it the other way round, we play awful in the first half and push for it in the second. Once we know how to play for both halves, I`m confident we will stay up, but if not, it`s going to be a long, hard season for us.
2) Were there any highlights or lowlights from your pre season?
Nothing special to be honest. Some of the obvious highlights were the excitement of some of our new signings in the transfer market. However, we lost one of our key wingers Jimmy Kebe to a torn hamstring in a pre-season friendly, meaning he missed the first five games of the season.
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window?
On paper, it looked very good considering we are usually quite conservative in terms of transfers. However on reflection, none of our signings have exactly set the world alight. Pavel Pogrebnyak came here with a big reputation, but in recent games has been dropped from the side after a less than impressive run in the team. Chris Gunter really looks like a Championship-standard right back, while many are still undecided on Adrian Mariappa. Danny Guthrie is a strange one, as he showed so much promise in pre-season and the opening games, but McDermott seems to dislike his attitude and some view him using Guthrie as a scape goat. Your former player Nicky Shorey however has been a good acquisition for us, showing how he can still crack it at this level.
4) Has anybody left who you think has seriously weakened the team?
We were lucky enough not to lose any players from our side during the summer, but from two seasons ago, I have to say Shane Long. He was superb for us in the 2010/11 season and has all the attributes for a great striker, which he is showing at his tenure at West Brom.
5) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
If I`m honest, it has to be our towering defender Sean Morrison (you know times are hard when you say that!). A lot of our goals this season have come from set pieces and he is a constant danger in the air standing at 6`5. If you give Le Fondre the supply then he can be a danger, but he isn`t really getting any it to be honest from midfield or his strike partner Roberts.
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated 🙂
Plain and simple, our defence. Jay Tabb came out into the media after the Wigan game and openly said ‘we are a mess on the pitch`. If you look at all of Wigan`s goals against us, they all came from the space vacated on the left and how and why McDermott didn`t address that at half time after clues in the first half is beyond me. Also, in terms of keeping leads we are awful, we have only won 1 game in 7 when we have led. Just tell Paul Lambert to let us score the first goal and you`ll be fine!
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
Turkish midfielder Jem Karacan is one of them, who has an ankle injury. Jimmy Kebe should be fit to return, but I would expect him to only earn a place on the bench. Danny Guthrie and Alex McCarthy have returned to training but I don`t expect will be ready, which is a shame as I would have started the both of them.
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle…
8) Are you surprised to see how Villa struggled last season and do you think we will again this time round?
I was surprised in all honesty. I know it has been hard for Villa as you have lost crucial players in the past few seasons (Young, Milner, Bent etc.) but I thought McLeish still had the players there to mount a top-half finish. In terms of this season, like us, defensively you may need to improve to stay in the division. Apart from Vlaar (who I`m a big fan of), you have a very youthful defence. Going forward you are a threat, but as long as you sort it out defensively, you should have the firepower to remain in the division.
9) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert?
I have never been a massive fan of his personality, as he comes across quite dry and reserved. However, his managerial ability can`t be doubted after the superb job he did at Norwich. I was very surprised to see him jump ship to Villa, but I don`t know what goes on in that board room at the end of the day!
10) What have you made of our youth promotions last/this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
I am quite a fan of your young striker Andreas Weimann, I remember him when he was on loan at Watford and his movement tore us to shreds when he played us and I think he scored too! Although you bought him over the summer, Joe Bennett is another that I have kept an eye on. Very skillful young man, who can get up and down that left side, applying some good deliveries.
11) Who has stood out most from our recent acquisitions for you?
I would say Vlaar, but I`m going to play that card for the next question! In recent games, I`d probably say Benteke. In your early games, he seemed to strike me as a worse Heskey because of his poor finishing in front of goal. However, he looks as of he is improving on that part of his game and is probably going to be a handful on Tuesday night.
12) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt Ron Vlaar. Obviously I haven`t seen him play week in week out, he strikes me as a ‘proper, no nonsense` defender with great leadership, which we really need at this moment in time.
13) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
The likes of Agbonlahor and Benteke with their pace are likely to cause our defence problems, as we certainly don`t have the fastest back line in the division! Arsenal exploited it with Walcott when we played them in the cup, with just simple balls over the top for the strikers to run onto.
14) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
Similarly to us, at the back. With our defence similarly all over the place, the only words I could recommend is “score more goals than them!”. We just have to get in your faces and test your defensive capabilities, but being extremely wary of your threat on the break.
15) Finally, a prediction please kind person…
I`m not feeling incredibly confident, but I`m going to go with heart over head for a change. 2-2 score draw.
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