Top of the league you're having a laugh - a look at Reading


So we take a look at our first promoted club, and where better to start than with the Champions Reading.

Now if you had taken a quick look at their team sheet prior to a game last season and then combined it with the fact that they were top of the league, you might well have been tempted to start up a little chant of “Top of the league you’re having a laugh” because if we’re honest, it wasn’t much of a team sheet to look at.

I mean if you would have asked any hardcore Reading fan to guess their position if they knew their top scorer was a super sub and their most talked about player was an aged worn out left back, then at best I reckon they would have guessed 16th.

How wrong they would have been. Now read on to find out more!

Any way you look at it they won the league, but I’m not sure that makes them the best choice of fantasy players, but of course only time will tell and that doesn’t mean there isn’t a gem or two in the pack. Anyone remember Charlie Adam at Blackpool?

The facts

So the facts, they went on the longest winning run of any team, 8 games.

Maybe more importantly they had the best defence in the Championship, letting in 41, 5 fewer than Southampton and 7 fewer than West Ham.

This added up to a whopping 20 clean sheets, which was far and away the best of any team in the league. However they did lose 11, more than both the other teams coming up, and had the worst goal difference.

Which brings us onto attack. In scoring 69 they only scored 2 more than 18th place Peterborough. Ok it’s not that bad really – they were the 6th top scorers – however 69 when compared to 85 goals for Southampton and 81 for West Ham looks … well not that great.

Important note, Reading have a double gameweek 1, but no game in gameweek 3 … Important note over.

Now on some guides you might expect player reviews, cheap picks … well here you get a little of everything into one.

How I like to think of it is this … Imagine Reading were a 5-a-side Sunday League team … well what would their team be?

Goal – Federici (4.5)

There was a lot of hope that Federici might have snuck in at 4.0 as Ruddy had last year, but no such luck. Maybe someone at Fantasy Premier League (FPL) saw that they managed 20 clean sheets as well!

What they may also have seen is that he made 228 saves (5.06 per game) which is rather a lot and better than the other promoted keepers!

He only missed one game and of course it was a 3-goal job, so 38 goals conceded in 45 games, is pretty good by anyone’s standards. The more I look into him, the more I start to wonder … may you wonder also.

Defence – Harte (4.5)

This was a tough choice. An honorable mention goes to Gorkss (4.0) who, if he keeps his place in the team, might well be a playing and half decent 4.0 defender. But there was just too much calling to Harte.

Now you all know this Harte. Yes it’s the Leeds one who made the Champions League run of a dream about 25 years ago! That is right, Harte is about 47 years old, but somehow still playing.

Now here is my word of warning: he won’t play every game – last season he managed 30/46 games. So expect similar this year, and be ready for him to be rested, especially in busy times, and even more so they have bought Nicky Shorey as back up.

HOWEVER, this is a review for Harte, so let me be very simple … he takes free kicks … and he takes penalties … Let me announce his new name: “The Poor Man’s Baines”. It really is that simple – it’s a gamble on game time and such, but if he plays, he is going to be on set pieces!

Midfield – McAnuff (5.5)

The only Reading player valued above 5.0 in any position, so I guess it was a given that he would make the team. 5 goals and 11 assists earn him the title of their most creative player for sure. But to be honest that is the only reason he is in the team. For me he is a bit of a jobs worth, and has moved around a lot of teams.  Maybe Reading is his home, and time will tell, but at 5.5 I think you can do better elsewhere! (Helpful eh?)

Midfield – Kebe (5.0)

Now Kebe is very highly rated at Reading. There was a long drawn out contract problem, because he wanted 3 years, but they could only afford 2. To cut a long story short, they rate him so much they somehow found the money for 3! And the tricky winger is a happy chappy!

Now last year he only scored 3 goals I’m sorry to say, however 10 assists wasn’t too shabby in only 29 starts (3 sub).

However if you look back in the previous 2 seasons he scored 10 and 9 goals. If he can combine his three years in the Championship in the Premier League then we could well have another Dyer (Swansea) on our hands.

Forward – Pogrebnyak (5.0)

So of course the forward spot goes to the top scorer … erm … well no it doesn’t.

As said earlier, their top scorer, Le Fondre (5.0), isn’t even on the first 11 team sheet normally. He did start 16 games, but it was the 15 games off the bench where he was better, so I’m sorry to say he doesn’t make the team.

Now Mr Pog does. Fulham made it very clear they wanted to keep the Pog, and then made it very clear that they were out “money’ed” by Reading. Yes, you did read that right. Ok we all know Fulham are a small team really who bat above their average most years. But Reading?

Well, what this tells you is that this team is going to be built around Mr Pog – there are no two ways about it. They have gambled a lot in wages and signing on fee to sign him, and hold a lot of hope that he is going to do the business.

Well Mr Pog managed 6 goals in 12 games for Fulham so has already had a taste of the Premier League, and is back for more! And with that double gameweek to start, 5.0 could well be a steal.

Now here is my random stat: if I remember correctly his first 5 goals came from only 7 shots. So take from that what you will! I don’t want to make it too easy now do I? UPDATED: i checked this out, i was correct, and it was 5 goals in 3 games … then 1 in 9, choices choices choices.

Well that is our Reading 5-a-side Sunday League team! Hope that helped in some way.

I saw a fair few of their games and did a lot more research, so if you have any Reading questions at all please do ask them via a comment below and I will answer them best I can since I couldn’t put everything in here!

Other than that, look out for the Southampton and West Ham Sunday League 5-a-side teams coming your way very soon!