When is the right time to begin to worry?


When is the right time to begin to panic about the performances of your team?

If you’re asking a trigger happy Chairman, one would probably answer around five games into the season, regardless of performances, the number of players signed up who need time to gel and so on.

Fans however are usually a bit more measured in their approach in general, probably as they don’t have to look at the balance books and stare at the enormous blackhole relegation usually leaves in the accounts which, to be fair, would make anyone’s trigger finger a bit itchy.

After yesterday’s defeat to West Bromwich Albion, Reading find themselves bottom of the Premier League with just four goals scored, one point on the board, albeit with a game in hand on their rivals.

So, is it time to panic and worry yet?

The opening two performances against Stoke and Chelsea were impressive enough, despite only picking up a point, as the defence looked relatively solid (the four goals against Chelsea can be attributed to a penalty, goalkeeping error, offside and last minute counter attack) while the attacking play was enough to pick up three goals and troubled the Chelsea defence hugely in the first half of that fixture.

However, the 25 day gap between games two and three in the Premier League has turned all that around as Reading have looked very toothless in attack and shaky in defence.

The key issue seems to be in midfield where the wingers (Reading’s method of choice for attacking creativity for ten years now) have been subdued for the most part while the centre midfield is committing the cardinal sin of neither offering much going forward in creative terms or providing cover for the defence.

Thus, the pressure on the defence is increased meaning the full backs are unwilling to push on (even more so as the centre halves Alex Pearce and Kaspars Gorkss lack pace) and the strikers have to scavenge for scraps and become increasingly frustrated. A perfect storm in tactical terms.

For a team that took the last two thirds of the Championship by storm and was in such good form, the momentum seems to have been lost somewhat and the confidence drained.

It is a bit of a one-size excuse to blame it all on the gap between games but this seems to be a large factor as the difference between performances is so stark.

Another factor is the continued absence of arguably Reading’s two most influential performers from last season; Jason Roberts and Jimmy Kebe.

The former has all the experience in the world (though question marks remain over his ability to perform at the highest level) while Kebe has all of the talent in the world but is rather inconsistent.

One feels as if a win for Reading could kickstart their season and the return of these two would make that more likely as Roberts can scavenge a lot more effectively than the other strikers on Reading’s book (Adam Le Fondre aside possibly) and Kebe has the ability to occupy players which opens up the pitch for the other winger and centre midfielders and also reduces the creative burden.

One cannot of course rule out the possibility that they may just not be good enough and that leads us back to the original question; when to begin to worry and panic?

It is far too early at this stage but the more games without picking up that first win, the pressure builds and the urge to panic grows.

With games against Newcastle, Liverpool and Swansea to come, that time may soon be approaching.

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