Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Tilehurst Blog on Steve Clarke and Reading's season

Rival Lines
Reading v AFCB
14 April 2015
Blogger Interview: The Tilehurst End podcast and Blog

The excitement for Reading fans is perhaps not so much for the match against Bournemouth but their semi-final tie against Arsenal in next week's FA Cup. Still, I managed to have a chat with Dan from the The Tilehurst End podcast and Blog before he got his busy week underway and I had a few questions to ask him about how he thought Steve Clarke might go about this game with the league leaders before their special weekend.

CC: Congratulations on doing so well in the FA Cup but if you don't get any further than the semi-final, will this season as a whole have been disappointing?

TTEB: It's tough to say really but personally I'll consider it disappointing but not disastrous. The FA Cup run has captured the imagination, even though the fact we're facing Arsenal has taken some of the shine off things. However to be still slightly concerned with relegation with just five games to go is disappointing by any standards. This will be our lowest finish since returning to the top two tiers in 2002 and few players will come out of the campaign with much to shout about.

CC: Why do you think Reading have not done better in the Championship this season?

TTEB:To me the team has just gone stale, that coupled with some poor man management, an appalling injury list and general poor play has led to this lowly position we find ourselves in. Our previous ownership crippled the club's manoeuvrability in the FFP era and there's only so far you can go when you've not paid money for a central defender in nearly three years.... Losing Glenn Murray back to Palace in January also deprived us of our only natural goal scorer and the midfield just hasn't chipped in with the number of goals we've needed.

CC: The 6-1 away defeat to Birmingham in December was probably the hardest day for a Royals fan, but I guess at least you brought in Steve Clarke then and he has done okay hasn't he?

TTEB: I think OK is about the best way to describe it because in truth he's got a worse PPG ratio than Mr Adkins. The FA Cup run has obviously kept him in the good books of many Reading fans but there's already been a few questions about his team selections and short-term signings. It's unfair to judge him until he's had a full pre-season under his belt but there's not been an instant transformation or wow factor.

CC: At the time of writing, I see that Pavel Pogrebnyak and Jamie Mackie have only scored six goals each for Reading all season (at the time of writing), so are you hoping that there are changes in the striker department over the summer and do you think the club will have money to spend?

TTEB: 100% hoping for change! As Mentioned, losing Glenn Murray has left a massive hole in our striking options and while Mackie and Pog have done their best, neither are the type of dynamic 20 goal a season striker that really helps you compete at the top of the table. With many expensive contracts coming off the books this summer there should be a bit of money to spend but with our parachute payments decreasing and a new training ground to be built, I wouldn't expect a massive spending spree. Jamie Mackie himself is one of those that will go back to Forest this summer, so hopefully he is one that comes back.

CC: How has Zak Knight been performing who was brought in on loan until the end of May?

TTEB: The only thing Zat Knight has been performing well in is the race to see who's been the bigger bust, himself or Anton Ferdinand.... How that man ever played for England is beyond me! Kwesi Appiah has shown flashes of promise since joining on loan from Palace while Nathan Ake has demonstrated why Chelsea think so much of him at just 20 years old.

CC: Do you think your fixture congestion this month could cause you problems with your league position still not safe yet?

TTEB: At the time of writing it looks as if our draw with Blackburn has probably kept us safe but with yourselves, Brentford and Derby all to play before the end of the campaign, a couple of Millwall wins might just cause a tinge of concern. Still I think we've got enough points to survive.

CC: Would beating Brentford mean more to Reading fans than beating Bournemouth?

TTEB: In all honesty I don't think either would register particularly highly among the fanbase, sorry! There's perhaps a little more niggle due to Bournemouth's seeming dislike for us but I don't think there's any particular animosity between us and Brentford.

CC: You play Derby on the last game of the season. That could be intense if Derby need points to remain in the top six but do Reading usually play well against Derby away?

TTEB: We've actually had a good time of things at Pride Park/iPro Stadium in recent years, including this season's FA Cup win at the same stadium in the Fifth Round. That being said, Reading will very much be 'on the beach' for this fixture and if Derby have anything to play for I can't see us standing in their way.

CC: It's an evening game against Bournemouth but do you expect Reading fans to be there in numbers with an FA Cup semi-final just around the corner?

TTEB: 4,000 Cherries fans will swell the attendance but judging by recent weeks I don't think you'll see a particularly bumper crowd from the Reading side of things. With Wembley at the weekend and our league form pretty awful there's little incentive for fans to come down and the fact we'll likely take a thumping won't help things either!

CC: Do you expect Clarke to rest players for the Bournemouth game and if so who in particular?

TTEB: Our last pre-FA Cup game saw Clarke rest virtually the entire side and it wouldn't surprise me to see him do the same again. Adam Federici has had a quiet couple of games so he might get a run out, as will cup-tied loanee Nathan Ake but beyond those two I really wouldn't be shocked to see nine changes from the game against Blackburn.

CC: What is your score prediction for Reading v AFCB?

TTEB: Reading 0-3 Bournemouth.

It looks a bit like AFCB's match against Reading is a bit of a sideshow to the main event for Royals fans but the match is everything to the Cherries who could secure a play-off place tonight and whatever team the opposition puts out AFCB really need a win. Many thanks to Dan at the The Tilehurst End podcast and Blog for giving us his thoughts on what have been the problems for Reading FC and how life in the Championship has been for fans of Reading. If you go over to The Tilehurst End site later today you should find some of my answers to questions put to me about the Cherries' season.

No comments:

Post a Comment