This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
After an extremely poor start to the 2021/22 campaign, Reading manager Veljko Paunovic is currently one of the favourites along with Nottingham Forest boss Chris Hughton to be the first Championship manager to be sacked this season.
Although the Royals declined in the second half of last season after a scintillating beginning to his managerial career at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, with an EFL embargo hampering the club for much of the summer, the Berkshire outfit still expected to be doing much better than they currently are.
They very nearly kickstarted their campaign with a win against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend after going 3-1 up in the 77th minute, but conceded a stoppage-time equaliser through Stefan Johansen, consigning them to a place in the relegation zone for the time being.
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This has potentially made tomorrow night’s clash with Peterborough United a crucial one for Veljko Paunovic, who will be desperate to remain in the job after being able to make signings late on in the window.
Two of his additions in ex-Crystal Palace centre-back Scott Dann and Chelsea loanee Danny Drinkwater haven’t even pulled on the blue and white hoops yet, but will be hoping to retain their fitness and succeed for the Serbian, whose job is currently hanging by a thread.
A win against Darren Ferguson’s side in midweek could completely change the mood around Berkshire, but will a loss bring the curtain down on his tenure at the Select Car Leasing Stadium?
We asked three of our writers at Football League World for their verdict on this key question.
The pressure on Veljko Paunovic is completely understandable however I do not think he should be sacked if they lose to Peterborough United on Tuesday evening.
The extent of how trigger happy the Reading hierarchy are I am not too sure, but Paunovic deserves the rest of September at least to try and pull the Royals away from the relegation picture.
Their poor start to the season is not a surprise having trended as a mid-table side following their incredible opening run in 2020/21.
The return of Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite from injury will have a huge impact on the side who, despite being winless in their last four games, showed a lot of promise in their 3-3 draw with the in-form Queens Park Rangers.
The group of players is underperforming no doubt, and if the side are still in the relegation zone by the end of September then a decision needs to be made, but for me Paunovic deserves the next four to try and turn it around.
If I’m honest, I’m expecting Paunovic to get at least until the next international break. It’s been a difficult start to the season, of course, but he’s the same manager that got Reading competing for the play-offs last season.
That should give him enough credit in the bank to get through until October.
Having said that, it would depend on the manner of any defeat to Peterborough. Posh haven’t been great in recent weeks and Reading finding themselves on the receiving end of a heavy defeat wouldn’t look good and will build pressure.
Paunovic needs to tighten his side up and that’s going to be the deciding factor when it comes to his future at the club.
I think losing to Peterborough on Tuesday night would be another low point early this season, but I don’t think he should be sacked yet.
Paunovic has been chucked into a very difficult situation at Reading, where they have lost a lot of talent from last season’s squad, and because of the restriction they are currently under, they have not been able to sufficiently replace these players.
The start of the season, in my eyes has not been a total disaster, excluding the dismal 4-0 defeat at Huddersfield, Reading have been narrowly edged out in the games they have lost, and were confined to a draw against a very strong QPR side because of a 90th-minute equaliser.
Going forward, Reading still carry a threat, as only five teams in the division have scored more than The Royals. It is the defence where the issues lie.
I do not see Paunovic at fault for much at Reading at present. If the bad form continues into October, then that is when questions should be asked.