Reading are five points clear at the top of the Championship, but all the signs point to a drop-off at some point soon. Can they hang on at the top…?
Somehow, all of the following things are true.
Reading are top of the Championship. Reading are five points clear at the top of the Championship. Only two teams have scored more than reading in the Championship. Reading have the worst xG in the Championship. Reading have taken the fewest shots of any team in the Championship.
Veljko Paunovic has made an incredible impressive start to life as Reading manager, without a defeat and having conceded only a single goal since arriving in the summer to replace Mark Bowen.
But now, after seven games of the season, the question becomes: is this sustainable?
The short answer from the panel on the latest edition of The Totally Football League Show was: no. Or at least they won’t continue at quite this pace, having dropped only two points so far.
“They could make a good fist of the playoffs,” said Ryan Conway. “They’re tight at the back, and they have a match winner in Ovie Ejaria: if that forms the bedrock of your side, that can be made sustainable.”
Sam Parkin continued: “They’ve been great. Defensively, they haven’t been behind for a second so far, having only conceded one goal.
“But I don’t think it’s sustainable, when they score with their only shot on target against Wycombe, and with their first shot on target against Rotherham, who were the better side to that point.
“I don’t think they’ll sustain it in the top two, but there’s enough there with Swift to come back, to make a real push for the playoffs.
“Their next run of games is great: Blackburn is next, which will be a tough one, then it’s Coventry, Preston, Stoke, Bournemouth. The three after Blackburn are all winnable so I don’t think they’re going anywhere for the next month.”
Adrian Clarke predicted some of the problems that they may encounter:
“Squad depth is what might make them come unstuck. Their first-team is really strong: we know they’re solid, we know they’re being really efficient: to be top of the league despite having the fewest shots is remarkable really.
“They will need to create more chances: for instance, everything Lucas Joao is touching at the moment is turning to goals, that might not last. So what have they got in reserve when injuries hit and form suffers? That’s the big question mark.”
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