It’s been a long week to say the least. The pressure on everyone involved with Reading FC is growing more and more every day.
Since Paul Clement’s departure last Thursday, we are no closer to knowing who will dare to take over the reigns. Scott Marshall will continue to oversee the first team for Saturday’s game away at Rotherham. It’s a fixture that I never look forward to – a gritty, hard-working and dogged team such as Rotherham provide a seriously tough test. Make no mistake, it’s definitely a winnable fixture, and a win would be massive for the squad. The players are in dire need of confidence – and winning is the best way of restoring it.
Scott Marshall revealed that Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Yakou Meite could both be involved. If either were to start it would be a huge positive given the qualities that they possess. The Royals have looked lightweight upfront without both strikers involved. Both have seven goals which says so much about the squad’s predicament. Scoring goals has not been the problem for a lot of this season, clearly keeping goals out is the reason for the team’s league position. Both are superb without the ball, tireless and intelligent in their pressing. Loader and McNulty have worked tremendously hard in recent games, but haven’t been given many chances to score. Not registering a single shot on target at home to Sheffield United was frustrating to say the least.
Personally I thought it was a risk to start with a midfield two of Andy Rinomhota and Leandro Bacuna. For around an hour I was happily proven wrong. Both were superb again. But they tired and couldn’t maintain their levels of pressing. I will resist criticising Scott Marshall too much, given the nature of the task, but I think in hindsight he would have brought either Swift or Kelly from the bench. An extra body in midfield may have made the difference in both directions.
I would expect to see a return to a three-man midfield at Rotherham. The last thing Marshall will want is the side to be overrun again. Swift and Kelly have been the most disappointing performers this season in my eyes. David Meyler’s situation is certainly pointing towards a January exit, which would cap off an extraordinary few months. Dave Edwards is nearing a first team return, although I’m not sure how popular that will be with Reading fans. I said at the start of the season that he deserves to right the wrongs of last season, so I maintain that he should be able to show his worth. Elsewhere on the injury front, Moore, McShane, Ezatolahi, O’Shea are all ruled out.
It should mean a largely mean no drastic changes for Saturday’s game. Josh Sims and Garath McCleary were hugely disappointing against Sheffield United, so I certainly expect Mo Barrow to return the starting XI. It’s anyone’s guess who else will play, with Sone Aluko also lacking form. I expect Scott Marshall to put his faith in Garath McCleary as a senior player. he, like all the senior figures have got to lead by example if this team are to build towards being completely free of relegation.
So, with the injuries and form in mind, my predicted lineup for Saturday’s game (I might get it right at some point this season) is as follows;
GK: Anssi Jaakkola
RB: Andy Yiadom
CB: Tiago Ilori
CB: Tyler Blackett
LB: Chris Gunter
CM: Leandro Bacuna
CM: Andy Rinomhota
CM: John Swift
RM: Garath McCleary
ST: Sam Baldock
LM: Mo Barrow
A draw would be a fantastic result as we edge towards the new era of a new manager, and I’m predicting a 1-1 draw. Up the Biscuitmen!
Picture Credit: Reading FC