Each week, Simeon Pickup, journalist, lifelong Royals fan and editor of leading Reading fansite The Tilehurst End will delve into what has gone on at the club over the past seven days to give a view from the supporter base, exclusively for The Wokingham Paper.
By Simeon Pickup –
Tuesday night’s game at Nottingham Forest was the classic tale of two halves.
To his credit, Jaap Stam got his tactics and team selection for the match spot on, and it paid off in a first half that Reading controlled. The Royals were comfortable in possession and used the ball uncharacteristically well to look dangerous in the final third.
Omar Richards, of all people, popped up on 35 minutes to show an end product that the team hasn’t seen enough of in the last few months.
The hosts were always going to change tactics after the break. Early on, they had sat back in the hope of being too organised to break down, but the goal forced their hand, and Aitor Karanka’s side pressed more aggressively in the second half.
The result? The game turned and Forest – a goal-shy team in recent weeks – created plenty of chances to get back into the match.
Bizarrely, Jaap Stam seemed not to acknowledge Forest’s alteration, and refused to adapt his own side to counter the changing circumstances.
We’ve seen the same on other occasions this season – particularly the Cardiff City game when Reading looked comfortable before the break, only to blow a lead when the opposition came up with a plan B.
Bluntly, Stam’s failure to learn from that experience is inexcusable.
I wrote after the Cardiff game that a lack of defensive options on the bench meant there were few obvious changes to make to stem the Bluebirds’ tide, but the same can’t be said of Tuesday’s substitutes.
George Evans and Dave Edwards could have been brought on to bulk out the midfield a lot sooner than they were – in fact, they arrived on 81 and 91 minutes respectively.
The manager’s tactical stubbornness has, to be fair, worked well at times during his year and a half in Berkshire, but adaptability is a must if Reading are to get the wins needed to move away from the bottom three.
Simeon can be found on Twitter @BucksRoyal and his website’s account is @TheTilehurstEnd.
Head over to wokingham.today to hear the latest episode of The Tilehurst End Podcast Extra with The Wokingham Paper’s Tom Crocker and Simeon’s colleague Olly Allen, discussing all things Royals.