Reading looked toothless going forward at times last season – and that’s putting it politely.
Perhaps this was partly due to the creative John Swift being ruled out for large parts of the 2020/21 campaign – but they just didn’t have enough in the tank to sustain their push for the play-offs and ended up finishing outside the top six quite comfortably in the end.
Many Reading fans will blame some of the Royals’ sloppy defending at times – the Stoke City home game being a case in point.
Three completely avoidable errors caused their 3-0 defeat to the Potters on that November afternoon – but later in the season – it was clear what the Berkshire side were really missing.
They were crying out for something different going forward.
Although the tricky Ovie Ejaria produced some magical moments last term, executing a series of defence-splitting through balls and turning Championship full-backs inside out at times, he doesn’t possess the pace former Royal Mo Barrow did when he was at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
Quiz: What was the score the last time Reading FC played at each of these 24 stadiums?
Barrow may have arrived at a time when things were starting to go downhill for the club back in 2017, but he single-handedly kept the Royals afloat during the 2017/18 campaign with his ability to get past full-backs, beat them with his pace and set up chances for others.
Even though Yakou Meite tries to do this at times, his ability on the ball lets him down at times and Reading fans won’t be seeing him in action for a long while anyway as he recovers from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
With this and the departure of Sone Aluko following the expiration of his contract this summer, it’s clear the Royals need to strengthen this area to make them less one-dimensional.
And if they want to do this, they should be looking to recruit a Mo Barrow-type replacement to stretch defences and get in behind.
This is where new arrival Kadeem Harris comes in.
The 28-year-old was first spotted at Reading last weekend as he made an appearance off the bench against Crystal Palace in their final pre-season friendly.
As soon as fans had caught a glimpse of the former Sheffield Wednesday winger, many Reading and Owls fans reacted to this news on Twitter and one particular tweet summed up the latter’s thoughts perfectly:
Sheff wed fans seem to think kadeem Harris has a lot of pace but little end product
Sounds like the perfect rotation player to me
— eDing (@e_ding10) July 31, 2021
This was exactly the sort of thing Swansea City fans were saying about Mo Barrow before his move to the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
And though Harris is not guaranteed to make a similar impact to the Gambian, who played for the Royals between 2017 and 2020, the Royals can’t afford to be picky in their current transfer embargo situation.
If he can dribble and prove to be a pacy outlet out wide, something he will definitely do after showcasing this at former sides, then it’s a small gamble worth taking despite mixed reviews from Sheffield Wednesday fans.
With the 28-year-old already in the building, it would a quick (providing the EFL approve it) and potentially cheap deal that could provide the Royals with value for money, something they have failed to get with many players over the past four years.
And it would certainly be a good start to make after a quiet first few months of the summer window.