Reading Premier League Preview
Players In: Pavel Pogrebnyak, Danny Guthrie, Gareth McCleary, Nicky Shorey, Adrian Mariappa, Chris Gunter, Pierce Sweeney
Players Out: Michael Antonio, Mathieu Manset
Reading return to the Premier League chastened by their struggle to escape from the Championship. Again they return as champions but this time in a much less comprehensive manner pipping Southampton by only 1 point. With a new Russian owner and a manager steeped in the recent history of the club having served as Chief Scout, under 19s and reserve team manager since 2000.
McDermott has further strengthened a strong Championship side with the signings of Pavel Pogrebnyak on a free (but with big wages), experienced midfield battler Danny Guthrie on a free, former full back Nicky Shorey on a free and winger Gareth McCleary also on a free. Add in Chris Gunter and Adrian Mariappa to what was already a fairly good squad. Young Pierce Sweeney could be one for the future having followed a well-trodden route from Ireland.
Last season Reading shared the goals around with Adam Le Fondre top scoring with just 12. It will be interesting to see how the likes of super-sub Le Fondre, Jem Karacan, Jimmy Kebe, Mikele Leigertwood step up to the demands of the midfield battle in the Premier League. New signing Mariappa will bolster a central defence of Alex Pearce and Kasper Gorkss whilst the two new full backs will challenge the aging Ian Harte and former Chelsea reserve Shaun Cummings.
The signing of Pogrebnyak is significant with goals from your striker one of the key ingredients to escaping the dreaded drop. With experience of the Premier League, a knack for scoring ugly goals and a physique to scare Anthony Joshua the big Russian will be vital if Reading are to stay up.
First game analysis:
After a slow start and an attempt to out do Stoke, with a succession of long balls towards man-mountain Pogrebnyak, Reading started playing in the second half and just about deserved a point for their third attempt at the Premier League. Adam Federici kept more clean sheets than any keeper in the Championship so should bounce back from his howler to gift Stoke the lead. Reading won several games by just one goal last year and will have to be just as tight this season to ensure they stay in the mix. They can’t afford to give away soft goals and the established defensive pair of Pearce and Gorkss will have a long season ahead of them.
They should have just enough Premier League quality to stay in the division and then we will see what the Russian owner has in mind for this club. If Pogrebnyak doesn’t fire goals could be an issue for Reading and their defence will need to get to know each other very quickly or it could be a turbulent start to the season for Royals fans.