Reading season review – Championship awaits for relegated Royals

Reading: 19th

FA Cup: Fifth round

League Cup: Fourth round

Reading’s first return to the Premier League since being relegated in the 2007-08 campaign was not as successful as they planned. They made some signings in the transfer window – including striker Pavel Pogrebnyak being brought in from Fulham and Danny Guthrie in from Newcastle United – but these players, and others, failed to make an impact throughout the season. They were knocked out of both cups before the quarter-final stage, and only managed six wins in the 38 game Premier League season.

Reading started the season on the back foot, winning only one game in their first 11, as well as earning just four draws in this time. They did manage to keep the score deficit respectable, losing by only one or two goals each game.

The Royals, managed by Brian McDermott, entertained Arsenal in a thrilling League Cup fourth round tie, which produced 12 goals after added time. Reading lost 7-5 but showed resilience and courage when they fell behind to a fairly strong Arsenal side. This game was one of the games of the season, and fans began to believe that if Reading performed like this in the League Cup, then surely they could perform just as well in the Premier League.

Sadly this was not the case, as McDermott’s men slumped to poor results in their next 10 games, with just one notable victory against sixth-place finishing Everton.

By the end of 2012, Reading were sitting in the relegation zone with just two wins and seven draws to their name. Only Queens Park Rangers were behind them, who in truth were having a nightmare season considering their transfer signings.

In January of the New Year, Reading managed back-to-back victories for the first time this current campaign, with victories over West Brom and Newcastle United. These games were followed by a win in the FA Cup, then a great result against powerhouse side Chelsea, in a 2-2 draw. These four games looked to mark the changing point in Reading’s season as the club moved above the relegation zone and gave the fans hope of survival.

Reading started February off with a win over Sunderland, but then lost their next three games, including exiting the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester United. By the end of the month, they were back in the relegation zone, but were within touching distance of teams floating above the dreaded bottom three.

But the next two months were a nightmare for the Royals, and their fate was soon sealed. They did not manage a single victory, and only earned one draw in their next eight games. The end result was the sacking of Brian McDermott, with the club believing that the only way forward was to relieve him of his duties.

Nigel Adkins was appointed two weeks later, after Eamonn Dolan managed the side for a few games. Adkins failed to bring much success during the final few games of the season, with only one victory against Fulham being worthy of a mention.

The Championship now awaits Reading, as it does for Wigan and Queens Park Rangers.

Manager – Brian McDermott: Nigel Adkins replaced long-standing manager Brian McDermott after a disastrous campaign, with disappointing results and unsatisfactory performances from Reading’s key players. Adkins will have to spend some cash and work relentlessly if Reading want to taste Premier League football again.

Player of the Season – Adam Le Fondre: Le Fondre proved to be Reading’s best player during the campaign, with consistent performances in both cup games and league games. He scored goals against heavyweights Manchester United and Arsenal, as well as scoring the two goals in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea. Le Fondre was Reading’s first player to win the Premier League’s Player of the Month Award.

Turning point – The New Year: A huge turning point in the season of Reading was when they won two successive Premier League games, then drew against Chelsea in the next game, to see them move above the relegation zone for the first time. These results gave the Royals’ fans hope of survival, but Reading failed to continue with that form.

Any other business: Reading lost 22 games in the 38 game Premier League season – the most out of any club in the top flight this season. Along with Wigan, they also conceded the most goals in the league with 73 goals being put in the back of their net.

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