CaughtOffside 2012/13 Report: Reading – Season Review, Best Player, Worst Player & Grade

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A look back at Reading’s season in 2012/13.

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After winning the Championship in 2011/12, Reading were back in the Premier League after a four-year absence since their relegation in 2007/08. Manager Brian McDermott did not spend huge amounts in the summer transfer window, and looked to get the best out of some players from the Championship, signing Garath McLeary and Chris Gunter from Nottingham Forest and Adrian Mariappa from Watford. They were able to snap up some players with Premier League experience though, as they brought in Danny Guthrie from Newcastle, Nicky Shorey from West Brom and perhaps most excitingly, striker Pavel Pogrebnyak from Fulham.

This lack of real quality signings would prove telling though, as Reading quickly looked somewhat out of their depth in the Premier League. After a decent draw at home to Stoke, they threw away a 2-1 lead at Stamford Bridge to lose 4-2 to Chelsea. Defeats to Tottenham and and West Brom followed, and they did not claim their first win until late September as they beat fellow-strugglers Queens Park Rangers 3-2 at Loftus Road in the Capital One Cup, winning a thrilling contest with two late goals from Shorey and Pogrebnyak.

They then did well to draw two games in a row with Newcastle and Swansea, before losing a close contest 1-0 to Liverpool at Anfield. They were then involved in another crazy game as they drew 3-3 at home to Fulham, but that was nothing compared to what was coming next as they were involved in one of the best League Cup games of all time.

McDermott Sack

McDermott’s side faced Arsenal in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup at the Madejski Stadium, and stunned an under-strength Gunners side by roaring into a 3-0 lead in the first 20 minutes. Incredibly, it was 4-0 as they approached the break before Theo Walcott pulled one back for Arsenal in first half stoppage time. Reading collapsed in the second half, as Arsenal brought it back to 4-4 and took the game to extra time. Marouane Chamakh made it 5-4 to the visitors at the start of extra time, though Reading were given some hope as Pogrebnyak made it 5-5. They were then twice hit on the break by the Gunners who scored a further two goals through Walcott and Chamakh to make it an unbelievable scoreline of 7-5. Reading were in disarray, and McDermott almost speechless afterwards, though he was determined for the team to put this defeat behind them and make progress in the league.

Not many would have fancied Reading to stay up at this stage as they were leaking goals, though they improved slightly to draw 1-1 with QPR and 0-0 with Norwich before claiming their first league win of the season with a 2-1 victory over Everton.

Sadly for them, this was then followed by seven straight defeats in the league, and they were on the wrong end of another topsy-turvy game as they look the lead twice against Manchester United only to lose 4-3 at the Madejski. They lost close games to the likes of Aston Villa and Southampton, but were also thrashed 3-0 by Sunderland and 5-2 when they met Arsenal again in the league. Remarkably, after cruelly losing to a stoppage time goal in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, they went on a very good run of four wins, one draw and just one defeat in six league games, winning impressively away at Newcastle, and coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Chelsea after scoring twice in the final three minutes.

This renewed hope was short-lived though, as they lost seven Premier League matches in a row. In the middle of this run, after a 2-1 home defeat to fellow-strugglers Aston Villa, McDermott was sacked by the club. His replacement was Nigel Adkins, who had also recently been sacked by Southampton, another side that had come up to the top flight with Reading this season. He lost his first game in charge 4-1 to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, and then 2-0 at home to his old side Southampton. It didn’t look like the change of manager would make any difference to the Royals’ fortunes, and despite holding Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at the Madejski, they lost to Norwich and then drew 0-0 with QPR in a result that saw both sides relegated to the Championship. Reading’s long-anticipated return to the top flight would last just one season, and at no point did they truly look convincing in their ability to stop the inevitable happening.

They responded to their relegation with an impressive 4-2 win away to Fulham, though they then lost their final two games 2-0 to Manchester City and 4-2 away to West Ham on the final day.

Adam Le Fondre

Best player: Adam Le Fondre

With an impressive 12 goals in the Premier League, striker Adam Le Fondre was the only real bright spark in the season, demonstrating great finishing ability and suggesting he might be hard to keep as the Royals drop down to the Championship. Credit should also go to young goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, whose displays have also attracted a lot of attention now that the club have gone down.

Worst player: Pavel Pogrebnyak

Despite a decent start, the club’s closest thing to a big-name signing for the summer never discovered his best form at the Madejski, scoring just five goals all season and basically proving to be something of a waste of money. Aside from that, the team were generally poor all-round, with very few looking like genuine Premier League quality.

Final grade: F

It was not only relegation, it was relegation with a whimper. Reading never really got going and only have themselves to blame for regularly throwing away promising leads. They should have strengthened more after winning the Championship, and will be disappointed to see that fellow promoted sides Southampton and West Ham, who finished below them last season, both comfortably stayed up this year. A disappointing end to the club’s Premier League adventure.

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