A Royal Affair: Performance

21 12 2006

We’re well into the season now, with October set to offer us four games, despite a two week break for International fixtures. After six victories – five of those coming in the Premiership – we are into the third round of the League Cup and surprising everyone with our second place position in the league. But how are the players doing? Today we take an extended look back at the first two months of our Premiership campaign and review the performances of the players.

1. Marcus Hahnemann
Goalkeeper (Age: 34)

Marcus has had a great start to the season, keeping no less than six clean sheets out of just eight fixtures. His performances are top notch and, aside from Chelsea, we have the best defensive record in the league. Hahnemann is a certain starter but his age could become a problem – 34 isn’t too old now, but we’ll need a reliable replacement in the next year or so to start training up.
Games Played: 8 Goals Conceded: 4 Clean Sheets: 6 Average Rating: 7.63

2. Ibrahima Sonko
Central Defender (Age: 25)
Sonko didn’t start the season as an immediate starter, but after putting in some strong performances at the back, the defender has recently forced his way into contention. A good age for a defender and while his stats may be a little low, his performances on the pitch are nothing to worry about at the moment.
Games Played: 6 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 7.67

3. Billy Jones
Versatile Defender (Age: 19)

Jones cost us £1.3m in the summer, but already his value has rocket to £2.5m. He has been ever present throughout the season so far and has played the full 90 minutes in every fixture. Fit and focused, Jones gives us 100% every game, and his versatility has proved necessary, with the youngster playing in all positions across the back and in a midfield role at some point or another.
Games Played: 8 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 7.50

4. Nicky Shorey
Left Defender (Age: 25)
Shorey’s pre-season injury kept him out of the first six games, but after returning to training early in September, Shorey has made two substitute appearances. He is still a little way off from stepping up to playing a full 90 minutes, but with a few more games, Shorey should be back fighting for the left back role.
Games Played: 2 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 7.00

5. Ivar Ingimarsson
Central Defender (Age: 29)
Ingimarsson had a good pre-season, and was chosen as first choice defender for the opening game of the season. However, since then his performances have been a little tepid – not bad, but not great. After being dropped against Middlesbrough and missing the following match with Charlton, the Icelandic international will be hoping to be given another chance. I’m pretty certain we can count on Ingimarsson to deliver when asked for – but while the side is performing so well without him, it would be unfair to change the team too much.
Games Played: 5 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 6.80

6. Steve Sidwell
Central Midfielder (Age: 23)

Sidwell had a slow start to the season, but after being taken off at half time during the defeat to Manchester United, Sidwell really started showing what he could do. Four goals in as many games was the result – a record that any central midfielder can be proud to own. Sidwell’s game is improving, and the midfield is giving us some solid performances, as well as creating and scoring goals. A certain starter.
Games Played: 7 Goals Scored:4 Assists: 2 Average Rating: 7.14

7. Glen Little
Attacking Midfield Right (Age: 30)

Little missed the first few weeks of pre-season through injury, and only returned to training two days before the Premiership season kicked off. Limited to short appearances at first, Little struggled to get going, but his last three games have all produced more solid displays. Little will need to keep up the performances if he is to keep his place in the side, as the right of the midfield is an area where we have many possible options.
Games Played: 7 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 2 Average Rating: 6.43

8. Kevin Doyle
Attacking Midfielder Right/Striker (Age: 23)

Doyle, despite one goal and an assist, has been largely disapointing this season. The young Irishman is a skillful player, capable of performing to the highest standard. His performances for the International side have been acclaimed, yet his games for Reading normally seem to result in little activity. Still, I’m willing to give Doyle the benefit of the doubt and stick with him – even if it’s only as a substitute until he finds his form again.
Games Played: 8 Goals Scored: 1 Assists: 1 Average Rating: 6.75

9. Leroy Lita
Striker (Age: 21)

Lita has frustrated me somewhat during the season. His pre-season performances, along with his Under-21 caps, had been outstanding, yet just two goals in the Premiership is a figure too low for us. Lita is a great young player with a big future in the game, but he needs to be a lot more clinical in his finishing. Despite being the highest valued player, Lita – like all the team – may not be safe from the temporary axe, and may find himself dropped soon unless he starts adding to his goal collection.
Games Played: 8 Goals Scored: 2 Assists: 1 Average Rating: 7.00

10. Shane Long
Striker (Age: 19)

Another of our young strikers, Long has also been somewhat lacking in the goal department. Granted, the Irish striker has had less appearances than Lita, but one goal – which came in the League Cup – is not enough. Performance wise, there has been an improvement of late, but Long will need to grab more goals to keep his place in the side.
Games Played: 5 Goals Scored: 1 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 6.60

11. Bobby Convey
Attacking Midfielder Left (Age:23)

Convey is without a doubt one of our best players – it’s just a shame we haven’t seen him in action properly yet. After picking up an injury in the first game of the season against Wigan (After setting up a goal, too), Convey has only recently returned to training and is some way of returning to action. Still, I’m sure that once he is back to full fitness, he’ll be challenging for that left side role and will be proving his worth to the team.
Games Played: 1 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 1 Average Rating: 7.00

12. Seol Ki-Hyeon
Versatile Attacking Midfielder (Age: 27)

Ki-Hyeon has always given solid performances, but has only just started to show what he is capable of. A goal against Middlesbrough was followed up with a great performance down the left wing against Charlton, and should his form continue, the South Korean will be hoping for more chances to impress.
Games Played: 6 Goals Scored: 1 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 7.17

14. Dave Kitson
Striker (Age: 26
Kitson picked up an injury in a pre-season friendly just a week shy of the first Premiership game, and is still to feature in a competitive match. Now back in training, Kitson should soon be ready to make some substitute appearances, and will be hoping to challenge the current strikers and should bring a few more goals to the side. Hopefully.
Games Played: 0

15. Freddy Adu
Attacking Midfielder Left/Centre (Age: 17)

Adu had a sluggish start to the season, but had started to flourish before picking up an injury which forced him to sit out a couple of games. Two goals – one of those a sublime free kick against Manchester United – have been impressive, and while he is still prone to some mistakes, the young Adu is a sure talent and one who is a great assett for the club. Now back and ready for action, Adu will be hoping to win back his place in the squad
Games Played: 6 Goals Scored: 2 Assists: 1 Average Rating: 6.83

16. James Harper
Def/Attacking Midfielder (Age 25)

Harper’s performances so far haven’t been great, nor have they been poor: they have been ‘good’. Harper has put in some good performances week in week out during the season, and while he recently scored against Charlton, he should be looking to both add more goals and create more in order to make sure he isn’t dropped, especially with more players returning to training.
Games Played: 6 Goals Scored: 1 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 6.83

17. Stephen Hunt
Attacking Midfield Left (Age 25)

Rescued from the reserves on my arrival, Hunt has been called for on just two occassions and is still working on his fitness. Ideally, Hunt will be needed on in an emergency, and with the return of both Convey and Adu, his chances are likely to be greatly reduced. Hunt may even be on his way out in January, depending on how things turn out between now and then.
Games Played: 2 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 6.50

19. Jon Harley
Defender Left (Age: 27)

Stepping up from Championship football, Harley has done well in his appearances this season. Signed mainly as a back up to Shorey, Harley has been our main left back following his team mates injury. His performances have been consistent, and the defender should be due some more appearances while Shorey fully recuperates.
Games Played: 8 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 7.0

20. John Oster
Attacking Midfielder Right/Centre (Age: 27)
Oster has had little involvement this season, featuring in only one Premiership game. The midfielder will be given more opportunities to prove himself, but he will need to grasp these, especially with our squad seeing the return of a few midfielders from injuries.
Games Played: 2 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 6.50

21. Ulises de la Cruz
Defender Right (Age: 32)

Cruz has the Premiership experience, but after starting the first three matches of the season, he hasn’t featured since, mainly due to the fact that his replacements have all done a better job. Handy to have as a back up player, but will he be happy to sit on the sidelines?
Games Played: 3 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 6.67

22. Greg Halford
Defender Right/Striker (Age: 21)

The young Halford stepped up from lower league football and has proved to be a worthy signing. Used as both a defender and a striker, Halford isn’t a key player yet, but is sure to be should he keep up his impressive performances. Lately the defender has been given more chances to prove himself, and his last two appearances saw him pick up ratings of ‘8’ for each game. A steal at £1.2m in my opinion.
Games Played: 6 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 2 Average Rating: 7.33

25. Peter Mate
Defender Centre (Age: 21)

The young Mate comes to us on loan for the season, and in his brief appearances has shown that he is quite reliable. Unlucky not to play more due to the form of the current defenders but a good enough back up should he been called on.
Games Played: 2 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 7.50

28. Stephen Ireland
Attacking Midfield Centre/Forward (Age: 20)

Ireland joined us on loan from Man. City to add some support to our injury-hit midfield, but was then sidelined himself. Three substitute appearances haven’t been enough for him to fulfil his role yet, although with the youngster returning to training recently, I’m hoping the highly rating player will soon be back in the squad to prove himself.
Games Played: 3 Goals Scored: 0 Assists: 0 Average Rating: 6.33

And that’s the first team squad for you – a collection of injury hit stars, from the looks of things! There are a view more players in the reserves who have either had some involvement or could be called upon during the season listed in brief below:-

13. Graham Stack (Goalkeeper): No appearances yet for the former Arsenal stopper, but his performances in the reserves have been solid. Only real chance of a first time game is if Hahnemann picks up either an injury or suffers a lack of form.
18. Brynjar Gunnarsson (Defender): With a younger and more skilled defence, Gunnarsson has seen appearances somewhat limited for the team, but could be used at a later date.
26. Andre Bikey (Defender): Another on loan defender who was here before I joined, Bikey has played one game for Reading but he isn’t quite up to the pressure of the Premiership just yet.



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