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Opinion: Analysing Reading’s slump in form

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Reading’s 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City yesterday saw them extend their winless run to five Championship games. 

Is the injury to Stephen Quinn one of the chief reasons why Reading are struggling?

Is the injury to Stephen Quinn one of the chief reasons why Reading are struggling?

The Royals were going well before a 4-2 defeat to Fulham saw them descent into a horrible vein of form that was underlined by a 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City yesterday.

So why have Steve Clarke’s side been so average recently? What has gone wrong at the Madejski Stadium?

FootballLeagueWorld writer Charlie Firth takes a look at why a side who beat both Middlesbrough and Burnley little over a month ago have struggled in recent weeks.

Firstly, there have been injuries to Stephen Quinn and Aaron Tshibola.

Though these were a seen as a loss at the time, Reading fans probably underestimated the detrimental effect this would have on the team.

Comparably, Quinn and Tshibola are very defensive players for Reading. Particularly on the wings, they have extremely forward thinking players, like Ola John, Garath McCleary and Lucas Piazon.

At first, many Reading fans were confused as to why Quinn was played on the left side, particularly as he’s usually a central midfielder, but it’s now seeming to make much more sense.

Quinn added balance to the team, as Clarke favoured attacking players like Matej Vydra, Orlando Sa and Nick Blackman, with Vydra and Sa usually staying up front, whilst Blackman played on the right in an advanced role.

Therefore, Quinn offered a more defensive option on the wing, helping to add cover to the back four.

But to replace the more defensive Quinn, Clarke has had to use John and Piazon, who are very forward-thinking players, meaning there’s no bite in midfield.

This probably explains the dip in defensive form for the Royals, who have gone from having the sharpest defensive record in the Championship to a fairly average one.

Clarke just seems to be fitting too many attacking players into one team.

While we’re on the subject of team selection, Clarke needs to be more consistent with his.

There are changes in the team before every game, but the thing is he needs to bind a consistent eleven together, which can only help his cause at the moment. It appears that Clarke does not know his best eleven, hence the chopping and changing.

Jake Cooper should also be given a chance in this deteriorating defence, given that Michael Hector is in horrible form, and Anton Ferdinand’s isn’t that much better since he’s returned from injury.

Also, Reading seem to have changed their tactics to a tika taka style that sees them pass it through the middle around each opposition player.

But it doesn’t work.

At the start of the season, the philosophy was to try and get it up the pitch as quick as possible and take loads of shots. This worked really well, they were playing great football and scoring lots of goals, but for some reason Clarke has had a change of heart, and it’s difficult to put your finger on why.

Clarke needs to take a clean slate and rethink his tactics, because at the moment it’s one of the reasons why Reading are struggling.

A combination of injuries to key defensive players, team selection and tactics are the main reasons as to why Reading’s form is beginning to waver.

Clarke needs to take a long, hard look over the international break at his team and make sure this doesn’t continue afterwards.

Reading fans… what do you think are the main reasons for Reading’s slump in form? Do you agree with these reasons? Where will you finish this season? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!


ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Analysing Reading’s slump in form

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