Fellow promotees Reading are next up at St Mary’s, and here’s what Josh had to say as they head into their 15th game in the Premiership.
With thanks to Josh from Vital Reading.
1) What are you expecting from the season, and like ourselves, do you feel your reintroduction to the Premiership has been more difficult than first expected, or do you think you are about where you thought you’d be ahead of the second half of the season?
I was expecting a relegation battle in all fairness and I think it will end up in that fashion. I think we all knew it was going to be hard with the step up to the Premier League, but deep down I think we have done OK, we are just not getting the results we may have merited. Apart from the Tottenham game, I have yet to see us get completely outplayed and demolished in the terms of the scoreline. We have a tendency to play well in one half, but not in the other, which has often been our downfall in games. Once we know how to play for both halves, I`m confident we will stay up, but if not, it`s going to be a long, hard season for us. Our January spending will be crucial.
2) Any highlights from the season so far?
Our first win was certainly a big, important moment, it was just a question of getting that weight off our shoulders. However, we haven`t really pushed on since then, having lost three in a row! In the first half against Chelsea back in September was also a highlight, as the last 30 minutes was the best I have ever seen us play in all my years of watching Reading. The second half we can forget about…..
3) Are you happy with your clubs business in the transfer window?
In a nutshell, not really. On paper, it looked very promising if you look at the names we signed. However, none of our signings have exactly set the world alight. For example, Pogrebnyak came here with a big reputation, but has very much been a flop. Chris Gunter really looks like a Championship-standard right back and Danny Guthrie is a strange one, as he showed so much promise in pre-season and the opening games, but McDermott seems to dislike his attitude. Our best buy appears to be Nicky Shorey, who has been a good acquisition for us, showing how he can still crack it at this level.
4) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
Hal Robson-Kanu had his best game in a Reading shirt last week against Manchester United, so I think he would fancy himself against Danny Fox, who I have never been a massive fan of. We also look very dangerous from set pieces as Sir Alex Ferguson found out last week, so our 6`5 defender Sean Morrison is likely to be a threat in those situations. He has chipped in with 2 goals already, having only played 6 games.
5) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated 🙂
Our inability to keep a lead is notable, we can never seem to do it. Last Saturday was evident to that, going ahead twice but still failing to win, irrespective if it`s Man Utd or not, it`s still frustrating. That then obviously leads to our defence. We haven`t looked too bad in our recent games with Gorkss dropped from the side, even though we conceded four against United. Southampton`s attack is very strong though, so they need to be on top form.
6) Have you been surprised with how Saints performed at the start of the season before we seemed to lose our way?
In a way I was surprised, as in that tail end of the Championship season, you seemed to lose your flow and confidence that had served you so well. However, your midfield options and clinical attack did not surprise me at how many goals you scored, but like us, from a defensive perspective you are being let down.
7) Do you have any thoughts on Nigel Adkins?
I really like him. He hasn`t really got the recognition he deserves for getting consecutive promotions and building a squad that is capable of staying in the Premier League. To have sacked him so early on would have been very unfair and unjustified, so I`m glad he is getting his chance to pick you back up, which you are doing.
8) Has anyone stood out from our recent buys?
Gaston Ramirez seems to be slowly finding his feet in England and is starting to pay back that hefty transfer fee. I`ve been reading he is unavailable for Saturday, which is good for us! Nathaniel Clyne, who I really wanted Reading to sign, doesn`t look out of place in this league either.
9) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
No doubt Adam Lallana. He just opitimises what Reading are missing, that little bit of quality that could win you a game when it isn`t going your way. I`m not surprised he is being talked about for an England cap, he certainly has the potential at the tender age of 24. Obviously this is a bit of a crazy comparison, but he plays very similarly to Messi, just playing in that little hole behind the striker or out wide and has superb feet that can open any team up.
10) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
Apart from Lallana and Ramirez, your all round attack. I didn`t think Rickie Lambert was going to make the step up well enough, but he has done OK. Jay Rodriguez is another good option to have on the bench, with very good CMs in Cork, Davis and Schneiderlin behind them.
11) Finally, a prediction for the game please?
It`s going to be a tough one. If you play anything like you did against Newcastle, we are going to get battered. However, if we unsettle your defence, we could have a chance. As much as I don`t want one, I can see it being a score draw, 2-2.
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