Blogs & Opinion


The springed Royals

Peter looks at the best of the Football League

Peter Beagrie - Peter Beagrie Posted 12th January 2012 view comments

The transformation of Reading Football Club under Brian McDermott has been amazing.

Since their days in the Premier League they have lost millions and millions of pounds worth of talent. The Kitsons, Hunts and Doyles have all gone and only last summer they lost the goalscoring prowess of Shane Long.

McAnuff: gives Reading plenty of pace

McAnuff: gives Reading plenty of pace

But the club started to operate in a different way under McDermott with young players being given the chance to shine.

He took them to the Championship Play-Off Final last year before losing to a Swansea side that had a few more matchwinners, but instead of returning with a hangover this year the players look like they've been given a tonic and are currently occupying a play-off berth.

I find their play refreshing to watch, as they utilise the pace of Jobi McAnuff and Jimmy Kebe on the break. It's also nice to see Simon Church being given the opportunity to showcase his talents up front.

Peter Beagrie
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS
Watford v Reading

5pm, Sat, Sky Sports HD2
Watch on the move with Sky Go
How to remote record

I find their play refreshing to watch, as they utilise the pace of Jobi McAnuff and Jimmy Kebe on the break. It's also nice to see Simon Church being given the opportunity to showcase his talents up front.

They are perfectly suited to playing away from home and I'm looking forward to a wide open game when they go to Watford, live on Sky Sports, on Saturday.

They are playing full of confidence and if they have ideas of cementing a play-off spot they will be looking to win a game like this.

However, you can't write anybody off in the Championship and Sean Dyche, having been given his first managerial opportunity, is going about his business quietly and confidently.

At the time of writing, Watford are 18th in the Championship on 30 points and are six clear of the bottom three. Looking the other way, they're only nine points off the play-offs, which shows the level of consistency they've achieved.

There have been a lot of changes in personnel this season, both on the pitch and in the back-room staff, so I feel Dyche has acquitted himself really well.

Marvin Sordell has been asked to fill the boots of star striker Danny Graham and has caused no end of problems for all the Championship defences. This game should be a good platform for him if he's fit and he plays.

Watford have only lost four times at home this year, but if they'd converted a few more draws into wins they could be higher up the table. However, when you consider the talent they've lost they'll see their current position as a success. It would be brilliant if they could finish anywhere between 14th and 18th.

I would suggest they need to try to use a bit of physicality against Reading's balanced set-up. If they start with a high tempo they might be able to bully their opponents on Saturday.

But with Alex Pearce at the heart of the Royals defence they certainly don't have a soft centre and we should be in for a terrific game.

Great implications

Another game with massive implications in the Championship this weekend is the Nottingham Forest v Southampton fixture.

The Saints' lead at the top has narrowed after a recent blip and things have got a bit too close for comfort for Nigel Adkins' men. They'll want to give themselves a bit of breathing space up there.

But for Nottingham Forest, currently in the relegation zone, it has been a season of woe. You would think they have the squad to stay up - but I can remember saying that back in the 1990s when they fell out of the top division!

They spent years in League One and will be desperate not to revisit that time. The loyal fans keep turning up every week, but must be shaking their heads and waiting for the one result that will kickstart their season.

But there's always plenty of twists and turns in this league, as Southampton will tell you. They've only won one of their last six, but are still top because the teams around them haven't been able to capitalise.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the plot unfolds for the rest of the season. Blackpool are poised just outside the top six, Birmingham have plenty of games in hand... it's impossible to call what will happen in the Championship.

It's going to be fascinating.

A Cup cracker

We saw a cracking Carling Cup semi-final between Crystal Palace and Cardiff and both teams will still think they can go through.

Palace showed the strength and resilience to keep a clean sheet, but despite a 1-0 scoreline most people are tipping Cardiff to overturn the deficit on home soil.

The first leg was played at a fantastic tempo and was a fantastic advert for the Championship. Wilfried Zaha proved himself once again to be an outstanding talent; his trickery and wizardry on the ball was a joy to behold. He just needs to add a bit of consistency and end product.

From the owners down, everybody associated with Palace seems to have the club in their veins these days. It's usually a phoenix that rises from the flames, but in this instance it's the Eagles and they are doing a tremendous job.

That's particularly true of manager Dougie Freedman, who has been a revelation. They're three points off the play-offs and have beaten Manchester United in the Carling Cup, which is evidence that he has got everybody pulling in the right direction.

The Palace supporters were singing non stop on Tuesday night and they have plenty to sing about right now, which is great for them. But Malky Mackay won't be too upset at going into the second leg just one goal down because they possess a real goal threat.

I'm looking forward to the second game with eager anticipation.

Comments (1)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Syed Marzan reza (Reading fan) says...

we like to see Phil Griffiths he is good and football matches we from the avenue school its from Marzan Patrick we have Steven Lisa DION Harley reading fc is a good team and we like to be and sweet from thankyou

Posted 10:29 14th January 2012

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Jamie Redknapp

Time to boss it

Injuries to key men for Man Utd and Chelsea will test the tactics of both bosses, says Jamie Redknapp....

Latest News RSS feeds

Premier League preview

Manchester United take on leaders Chelsea on Super Sunday, while Liverpool welcome Hull City to Anfield on Saturday.

Merson's predictions

Merse predicts wins for Chelsea, Spurs, QPR and Man City - but sees Arsenal slipping up at Sunderland.

R Madrid v Barcelona preview

Real Madrid face Barcelona on Saturday in the first El Clasico of the season, with Luis Suarez set to make his debut.

Suarez vows not to bite again

Barcelona's Luis Suarez is adamant his biting days are behind him as he returns from a four-month ban against Real Madrid.

Saturday's Paper Talk

Zenit St Petersburg's Argentina centre-back Ezequiel Garay is reportedly a Manchester United target, plus more from the papers.

Features

El Clasico Combined XI: Guillem Balague leaves out Neymar and Gareth Bale

El Clasico Combined XI: Guillem Balague leaves out Neymar and Gareth Bale

Real Madrid host Barcelona in the first El Clasico of the season on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 5 at 5pm. Here, Spanish football expert Guillem Balague picks a combined XI of Real and Barca players. Do you agree with his selections?

Manchester United v Chelsea: If Jose Mourinho's team go to Old Trafford and win the Invincibles talk will be no joke

Manchester United v Chelsea: If Jose Mourinho's team go to Old Trafford and win the Invincibles talk will be no joke

Cesc Fabregas was adamant when asked the question. Could Chelsea remain unbeaten? “No, no, this is a joke. This is a joke. There will only be one team who can do that - the Arsenal Invincibles team of 2003.” Respectful of his former club’s achievement and downplaying expectations.

Is El Clasico all about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi? It's also a big one for Iker Casillas, Luis Suarez and Isco

Is El Clasico all about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi? It's also a big one for Iker Casillas, Luis Suarez and Isco

When the two greatest players in the world are on show, it's understandable that they should grab the bulk of the attention. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are both fit and in form for El Clasico this Saturday and that means this could be a showdown to remember.