Opposing View: Reading
Vital Reading Editor Josh Aspinall helps us preview Saturday`s trip to the Madejski Stadium...
Hopes, fears & expectations for Reading this season?
I think our hopes and expectations fall into the same area - promotion.
It`s rare that we have such expectation here, but the vibe around the club and the fans appears to be that we are real contenders for the title this season. As everyone knows, the odds of a relegated team bouncing straight back up is low, but in some ways, we have a better squad now than what we went up with.
Adkins` record at this level is another reason why our fans have been installed with confidence. As he says himself, in his rather smug, David Brent-like way, he is used to winning games.
On the flip side, the obvious fear is that we don`t match up to expectations and struggle to get into the Play-Off mix. Adkins is attempting to change our philosophy of football and it is getting there, but such a change takes time, how much time will it take though?How has the transfer window gone for the Royals & are you expecting any other business?
On the whole, very well. We shipped out the dead wood at the end of last season in Ian Harte, Noel Hunt and Simon Church, among others. The acquisitions of Wayne Bridge and Royston Drenthe have to be two of the coups of the window, especially as the both of them could quite easily be playing in the Premier League this season.
We have kept the large core of our squad together this season, so there was no real need to go crazy and throw cash here, there and everywhere.
I would still expect one or two more strikers in the window, especially as Adam Le Fondre and Pavel Pogrebnyak are the only fit, recognised strikers at the moment. Pogrebnyak is reportedly off soon too, so that would certainly get alarm bells ringing on the striker front!I saw a few Reading fans on Twitter suggesting that Reading had looked poor in pre-season, was that the case & how have you fared in the two games so far?
Our fans can be bonkers at times, but it wasn`t an amazing pre-season. Our pre-season tour of Portugal was good preparation, beating a top division side 5-1.
However, when we returned to England it went very much down hill, losing three straight games to Bristol City, Swansea and Bristol Rovers. I never like to take pre-season too seriously, so it doesn`t bother me one bit. As long as we are adapting to Adkins` philosophy, I`m happy.
In comparison to our two games so far, it has to be said that it is an improvement. Against Ipswich, we were abysmal in the first half, we really struggled to get our teeth into them. Despite this, in the second period we were much more improved, but definitely still far off our best.
The same applied for the Bolton game last week - not competing in the first half, but much better in the second. Given your performance in the second half last week, it should make an interesting second period this Saturday then!Nigel Adkins knows his way out of this division - how important is that factor & was that a consideration in his appointment last year?
Like you said, Adkins` record speaks for itself in the football league. I would have thought it would have been a crucial factor in his appointment and another reason why I would have preferred him over second-choice Gus Poyet. He divides opinion with opposition fans with his smug style, but his overwhelming positivity must rub off on the players.
His style of football would have also been another reason for his appointment by the owner. Under McDermott and Coppell, we played a very direct 4-4-2, which is becoming very outdated now in modern football. We needed a change in style and Adkins` attractive style would have been a point in his favour.Who will be the key man/men for Reading on Saturday?
Royston Drenthe is the obvious one. The former Real Madrid man is getting better every game and the best part is that he is only about 80% fit at the moment and was running the show against Bolton last week.
His footwork and technical ability is fantastic, but his shooting appears to be letting him down at the moment. He seems desperate for that first goal.
Another will be Nick Blackman, who most probably wouldn`t have heard of! We signed him from Sheffield United in January and he struggled to make an impact in the Premier League, but got off the mark against Bolton and put in a good performance. Adkins raised some eyebrows by dropping Le Fondre for Blackman, but the manager certainly sees something in him.Do you have any injury concerns?
Jimmy Kebe won`t be available for the game, he is still struggling with an injury suffered in March, meaning he couldn`t play any part in preseason.
Jason Roberts is another with a long-term injury, he had a hip operation over the summer, so is still in rehabilitation. Another player who is out is Mikele Leigertwood, who had ankle surgery over the summer.Who would you inflict on us in exchange for one of our players?
Tough question. I`d keep all of our current players, but if I had to say anyone, it would have to be Leigertwood. He has great experience at this level, but doesn`t really fit into the passing philosophy that Adkins boasts.
In exchange, I`d probably take Troy Deeney, considering our desperate need for a striker at the moment. I like watching Fernando Forestieri too, he can be an exciting players on his day, but Deeney wins my vote for his performances last season and already this campaign.Match prediction?
With the way the both of us play, I can see this being an open game with lots of goals. I`d probably take a draw at this early stage, so I`m going for an exciting 2-2 draw. I expect the both of us to be up there this season, so a point at this stage is a good result.
Thanks, Josh. Check out Vital Reading
later today to see how we answered Josh`s questions.