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Reading have been great to watch this season under Jaap Stam, their forward-thinking and sometimes carefree approach belying their manager’s playing image as a no-nonsense defender.
Their swashbuckling style has taken them to 3rd in the table and a probable play-off place. Whatever league they may end up at the end of the season, they will look to improve. If it’s the Premier League, they’ll be favourites to go straight back down and if it’s the Championship they will want to become title contenders having tasted the upper reaches of the division once again.
So what’ll they change in particular? Here we take a look at some major areas of focus.
Alright, this one will surprise many and surely people us all sorts of names while shouting at their screens right now! Thinking about it logically though, despite his undoubted ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play, Kermorgant’s own goal scoring record remains unimpressive.
14 goals in 42 games this season is OK, but in such an attack-minded team you can expect more. Kermorgant is 35 now and won’t be getting any better. So for Reading to reach the next level, they may need to spend the money and opt for a more prolific centre-forward. Others in the squad, such as Mendes and Rakels are there to provide cover and have 10 years over the Frenchman.
Perhaps another controversial one here; but this is a cut throat business. The skipper has managed 29 games this season but will be 32 on his next birthday. So younger centre-backs Ilori, Moore, and Gravenberch may provide cover for perhaps one big defensive signing, as mentioned below.
Reading’s cavalier style can work for them, but as is the case with all such teams they will need a top class centre-back relative to their level to provide the last line of defence, for when they inevitably get caught up field losing possession.
Kyle Bartley may become available and has proven himself to be one of the better defenders in the Championship, it also remains to be seen whether or not Newcastle will be willing to let go of Grant Hanley after their promotion is secured.
Reading do keep a rather large squad and as such, plenty of forward players are available in supporting roles. If they are to become title contenders in the Championship, they will need a prolific No.9. Newcastle have Gayle, Brighton have Murray and Leeds have Wood.
Reading need their own version of top class striker and loan signings like Tammy Abraham don’t come along every season. They may have to spend some money to achieve this but it can be done.