We spoke to Reading fan Matt about his side’s poor start to the season, their transfer business and the game ahead at Villa Park.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
Things aren’t going too badly for Villa at the moment, with the Pride undefeated sitting on eight points from four games.
Next up are Reading, who have struggled to get going so far; the Royals are still yet to pick up three points. Hoping that will change is University of Brighton student and The Tilehurst End writer Matt Cooper (@MattCooperSJ).
As a whole, do you think the Championship has got stronger or weaker compared to 2017-18?
I would say it has got stronger. I think that as per usual, it is a much closer league in terms of the team’s being of a similar quality than the Premier League which makes it more exciting at times. This year I think that the teams who got promoted from League One, barring Rotherham, will be able to stay up so the additions of Blackburn and Wigan have certainly strengthened the league. Also I think the fact that Leeds have managed to secure a manager as successful and respected as Marcelo Bielsa is a testament to the Championship’s continued improvement.
What were your expectations for Reading going into the season?
I honestly thought that it would be a struggle for us this season and that we would be in the bottom half of the table come next August. We simply do not have the money to compete with the likes of Middlesbrough, Stoke and Leeds etc. But I would like to think that we can at the very least improve on last seasons showings. However, with no wins in our first four games that has not exactly started well!
Were you happy with Paul Clements transfer business in the summer?
Relatively. The two biggest bits of business were signing a recognised Championship striker in Sam Baldock and not selling Liam Moore amidst strong interest from Premier League side Brighton.
Alongside Baldock, we signed Marc McNulty from Coventry, who is a hard-working, energetic striker and ended last season as one of the highest scorers in English football for 2018. However, he has not played at this level before so it will be interesting to see how he does. We also signed defensive cover in full-back Andy Yiadom, who has impressed so far, and the experienced John O’Shea.
The late loan addition of Josh Sims from Southampton looks to be good business as we desperately needed another winger. David Meyler has provided some more depth in midfield but I would have liked another high energy, hard-working midfielder and another centre back to complete the squad.
Which Royal’s players should Villa be wary of?
Mo Barrow was one of the few bright spots for the Royals last season and, as he showed against Derby on the opening day of the season, if you give him space then he will punish you with his electric pace and crossing/finishing ability. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has barely had a pre-season thanks to Iceland World Cup involvement but he has three goals so far this season and is coming off the back of a brace against Blackburn.
What would you put Reading not winning so far in the league down to?
I think that because the majority of the squad is the same from last season, they are still suffering from a mental block down to the shocking end to the season we had where we couldn’t win a game no matter what we tried.
Where do you think Villa will finish this season and why?
I think now that Villa seem to have sorted out their ownership and financial problems, I can see you challenging for promotion. Probably not automatic promotion but I think you will be in and around the play-offs come the end of the season once again.
Score prediction for Saturday?
Unfortunately, seeing as we have failed to beat teams like Bolton and Blackburn, I see it being a comfortable win for Aston Villa. 2-1.