Premier League Preview - Reading
MANAGER: Brian McDermott
STADIUM: Madejski Stadium (24161)
LAST SEASON: 1ST (CHAMPIONSHIP)
Reading are the first of our newest trio up for analysis, and to my mind are in a very strong position given their impressive form in the run-in last season. Reading were a juggernaught and much like the Steve Coppell-driven Royals of a few years back. Brian McDermott has been a slow builder at the Madejski Stadium, but ultimately their faith in the methodical manager has been rewarded.
Kaspars Gorkss and Matt Connolly were at the heart of defence for the Royals while Mikele Leigertwood eventually achieved the promotion he craved while at QPR - all inspired to take Reading over the line and into the top flight.
IN: Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest, £2.5m), Adrian Mariappa (Watford, £2.5m), Pierce Sweeney (Bray Wanderers, undisclosed), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Fulham, free), Danny Guthrie (Newcastle, free), Garath McCleary (Nottingham Forest, free), Nicky Shorey (West Brom, free)
OUT: Michail Antonio (Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed), Tomasz Cywka (Barnsley, free), Brian Howard (released), Andy Griffin (released), Jack Mills (released), Joseph Mills (Burnley, loan)
Reading`s style of play is easily transferable to the top flight. It is by and large direct and attacking, while they remain resolute at the back. Many QPR supporters will know that Gorkss has his definitive positives but pace is perhaps not one of them - step forward new additions Chris Gunter and Adrian Mariappa, able to help the Latvian man-mountain at every turn.
McDermott will have his side well organised and well drilled and given the way Norwich performed last season, I would expect the Royals to attempt to emulate the Canaries and make an early push for as many points as possible.
KEY PLAYER: Pavel Pogrebnyak
The Russian centre forward made an excellent impact at Fulham in the second half of the season - helping push them up the league to a respectable finish. It is this calibre of target man that will help Reading avoid the drop to my mind. A useful striker with bags of experience, Pogrebnyak will be hoping he backed the right horse when leaving Fulham for newly promoted Reading.
Reading will be predictably stern at the back and press high up the pitch, working the channels and attempting to bring their creative talents into play. Pavel Pogrebnyak is an excellent focal point in attack and one would expect Reading to rack up the majority of their points early on as they make a quick bid for safety.