18 September 2002: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
READING 0 NORWICH CITY 2
Norwich: McVeigh (3 mins), Mulryne (5 mins).
Half Time: 0-2
| Reading: Hahnemann, Mackie
(sent off 42), Williams, Upson, Murty, Rougier, Hughes, Igoe, Watson (Newman
68), Salako (Tyson 75), Cureton (Forster 68). Subs not used: Parkinson,
Norwich: Green, Kenton,Drury, Mackay, Nedergaard, Mulryne, Holt, Russell (Emblen 63), Heckingbottom (Easton 72), Roberts, McVeigh. Subs not used: Nielsen, Llewellyn, Crichton.
| Reading: Igoe, Mackie, Newman,
Rougier, Upson. Red Card: Mackie (2nd booking). Norwich:
Referee: S G Bennett (Orpington).
Reading's third straight defeat was settled in the opening five minutes, after a disasterous start saw the Royals conceed the only two goals of the game. There was instantly no way back for the Royals against an away side that had done their job and would have no problem at all keeping hold of their lead. Reading, experimenting with some strange tactics, were as disorganised as they could be after the two goals and had only just started to recover when John Mackie was dismissed for a second yellow card. The second half saw Reading have most of the play but Norwich had no problem containing us. The game could have gone all night and Norwich would have continued to defend an ineffective Reading attack with ease. Again, there could be no faulting effort tonight, as Reading continued to try and work their way into the game. Norwich were a far better side than Reading, but Reading's biggest problems on the night were unusual, confusing team selections and tactics, coupled with the problems of a less skillful side than the opposition.
Yet it all started brightly for the Royals with a starting eleven that was massively different from Saturday's defeat against Milton Keynes at the Madejski Stadium. There was no place for Butler or Shorey in either the line-up or on the bench. Interestingly, Whitehead was missing off the bench with Australian goal-keeper Young taking his place. Elsewhere Rougier was given a start up front alongside Cureton. The mysterious disappearance of Nicky Shorey, who has been superb all season, meant an inclusion for Arsenal loan player Matthew Upson as Reading played three centre backs and two wings backs in the shape of Murty and Salako. The 3-5-2 formation was a very brave move from Alan Pardew, who is sure to take some abuse for the experiment in such a difficult high-profile league fixture. It did look good from the off - but only for the first two minutes. Rougier instantly started causing problems as he started off a determined performance up front for the Royals. Cureton provided a cross that Rougier headed over in the middle, and Rougier almost created a few chances as he forced his way through. With a nice bit of attacking play and the options given down the wings we had reasons to think that Pardew's drastic changes might pay off against a strong Norwich side.
However the early indications were a false hope, and it all very quickly fell to pieces as soon as Norwich launched their own attacks. Norwich broke with ease down the right wing with Salako clearly not likely to be able to make a challenge. In the middle we had three defenders not used to playing with each other and clearly not sure of their positions. The ball was crossed and Mackie made the mistake that led to the goal. He put his foot over the ball and missed it, and it drifted across into the middle for a straight forward tap in from close range to put Norwich 0-1 up. Reading had barely started again when another attack came down the other side. Mackie was drawn away from the attacker for some strange reason, leaving him free in the middle when the ball was crossed from the left. Norwich took full advantage of the chaos in a confused three man defence and the spare man had time to drive the ball into the right side of the net to make it 0-2.
So, Reading were two goals down after just five minutes - and uncomfortable just wasn't the word. Immediately we had to question why the hell Shorey had been left out of the side in place of Matthew Upson. The changes unsettled the whole team who looked unsure as to what their tactics actually were. Upson failed to impress throughout - he didn't work with the side and was guilty of a couple of slack balls that could have let the visitors in again during the second half. Murty playing wide and forward was a nice idea in theory and he did well to continually find space on the wing and wait patiently for the ball. However, the balls never came as we totally failed to use our options up front. We'd broken the defence by the changes but then failed to then make up for it by using the extra options up front. The midfield was non-existant and we were left to rely on a battling Tony Rougier to create the odd spark of excitement up front - and relying on a player that doesn't score goals really wasn't ever going to be enough. Rougier had a header just wide at the far post and did well to break through but fired a shot well wide when he should have crossed to Andy Hughes clear in the box. They were rare Reading chances.
The game was over already, but it was entirely over with five minutes of the half left to play, when John Mackie was sent off for his second yellow card. Mackie only had himself to blame with a poor challenge when he was already on a yellow. We were struggling with eleven men, and with ten it just couldn't get any easier for Norwich. The two goals and the sending off were hard to argue with . That meant you couldn't blame the referee, which was lucky, because he was truly shit tonight. The referee certainly wasn't helped by the linesmen either but his contribution meant sure the game was never likely to spring into life with far too many bookings, some strange off-side decisions and play being stopped every two minutes. It really didn't help. Reading's biggest complaint would have been when Rougier was clearly clipped inside the Norwich area during the second half by one of the three players on him. A definate penalty - which wasn't given - but it wouldn't have made much of a difference. It certainly wasn't all against Reading though with Norwich picking up a booking when Murty ran into one of their players.
The second half saw Norwich defend in numbers against a constant, but generally weak, Reading attack. Reading rarely had anyone in the box and Norwich defended with five players throughout the half. There was never going to be any way through. Rougier started running into continual dead ends as his game become more and more ineffective, and Cureton hardly got a touch of the ball. Nicky Forster came off the bench and I'm not sure if he actually did touch the ball. Tyson on the other hand did himself some favours with some nippy periods of play down the wing, but we failed to really gel as a team at any point. If Norwich had bothered to step up a gear they could have always added another couple of goals. This was shown right at the end when they waltzed through a couple of times and should have scored but put the ball over once, and wide another time when they really should have increased their lead.
Reading scored bonus points during the second half
by never stopping playing. There was plenty of effort on show, but not
always the skill to match. The effort was enough to make sure that the
Royals were applauded off the pitch at the final whistle by the majority
of the remaining home fans. We understood that the tactics and balance
of the side had lost this game. Plenty of questions to be asked. This
was an easy win for the visitors.
Following report from John Wells
For a while Reading looked as if they might be completely overwhelmed but to their credit they rallied and at least got back into the game. They didn't really look like breaking down a determined and solid City defence but there was still hope that a goal might bring them back into contention. Then Mackie lost his head and got himself sent off. Apart from virtually killing the game it also brings in to question his credentials as skipper of the side. There is no doubting his commitment, strength and determination, but a player on a yellow card lunging into the back of a forward moving away from the danger area is one who needs to be provided with leadership rather than being the one expected to provide it. He was also made to look a bit naive by McVeigh's movement off the ball.
Norwich are clearly going to be one of the likely promotion candidate again this season and it is encouraging to see that Reading were not totally outplayed by a top team - even with ten men. You could argue that they were not really bothered about extending their lead but I don't think they would have been quite so secure if Reading had sneaked a goal. Tonight's performance apart from the appalling errors early in the game was not bad, but Norwich were clearly a better team. The team is crying out for a player to compliment Cureton. He can't be expected to be the sole provider of goals and yet nobody else looks like scoring. Rougier possesses great skill and ball control and his strength caused Norwich a few problems, but Reading's three best chances fell to him tonight and he either scuffed his shot, hesitated and lost possession, or headed wide.
Although it did not effect the result, the referee had a stinker. The foul on Rougier in the second half was a clear penalty, he made some ridiculous decisions and was inconsistent in the punishment he dished out. For example Reading had two players booked for hand ball but when a Norwich player committed the same offence no card was shown.
Murty was back to his best tonight trying to build
attacks down the right with positive and direct running and passing. Watson
had a better game defensively and hit a couple of superb long passes.
Upson also looked stronger as the game progressed, which is just as well
with Mackie about to be suspended. There is scope for development and
improvement in the squad and this season will be the real test of Alan
Pardew's management skills. I think he is doing as well as he can with
what he has available but there is still a lot of work to be done.
FANS' POST MATCH OPINION
|Absolutely spot on with your report Graham, all I can
do is agree. Maybe Pardew was trying too hard to change the formula because
this was a spectacular failure. The formation clearly confused the players,
they were disorientated from the off and that enabled Norwich to settle
the game almost before it had begun. Had they needed to win by more they
could have done.
The midfield suffered as badly as the defence with the formation as the trio of Igoe, Watson and Hughes all seemed to have roaming roles and nobody quite knew where they should go or where anyone else would be as a result. Igoe was forced to play too centrally when he is best out wide - and the amount of running he had to do off the ball must be twice as tiring for somebody his size! Rougier was our biggest threat, Salako on the other hand was incredibly quiet. Whether it was because he felt he had to stay back more as wing-back I don't know but he didn't get into the game at all and I was amazed that he was not the first to be substituted.
The absence of Butler and Shorey is a mystery too. Shorey has played well all season and if that was a tactical decision it was quite frankly stupid. Upson offered nothing going forward and I think Salako missed the support from Shorey. To drop Butler I agree with as I think Rougier and Forster can create more for themselves or Cureton, but why was he not on the bench? To go from first eleven to totally out of the picture in the space of one game would suggest Pardew has no idea what he believes is his best team. Butler did no worse on Saturday than in the last few games so if that does not warrant a place in the squad tonight, why has he been starting at all?
The referee tonight was appalling but that shouldn't distract in any way from our inferior performance. As for his most crucial decision, it was beyond me why some people applauded Mackie off, as in my opinion both bookings were justified and unnecessary. So all in all a bit of a depressing night because I can't see where we are heading at the moment. Five league defeats is not good news and suddenly I am not looking forward to the trip to Wolves...
| I don't really know where to start after tonight's game.
After reading Graham's report to be perfectly honest that was the first time I realised we were playing 3-5-2! I thought overall the players lack of ability/confidence was embarrassingly obvious tonight. In particular John Salako almost looks finished as a player, or he needs bolstering because his confidence is low or he needs the proverbial bullet up his backside. I thought we had one player worthy of note which was Murty. He looked class all night. Against teams like Sheff Wed, Wimbledon and Grimsby, etc we will create chances and look a decent side but we are so far off the pace of the better teams in the league it almost beggars belief.
Another huge disappointment for me tonight was Cureton. Compare the two scenarios. 1 minute gone, Rougier bursts in to the box, crosses and no-one is anywhere near it, not even JC playing against his old club and I would have thought really keen to make his mark and continue as Div 1's leading scorer. 2 minutes gone, Norwich's 'Cureton' - Mcveigh gets himself in to a poachers position just in case Mackie misses the cross and sure enough he does and it's 1-0. People will point to the lack of quality delivered in to him, but you also have to make sure you're in the right position and JC wasn't tonight.
Pardew must stop 'messing around' with the side, it was clear tonight that a lot of players were not used to playing in the position they were asked to and also had very little understanding with the players around them. Pardew is changing things around in an attempt to become a better team. That isn't going to work. He has to work with the players he's got, get some stability back in to the team and start building a team rather than a collection of individuals. Forster must start. How can a guy who is voted by his fellow professionals as the striker that caused them most problems last year not be starting ? It is almost becoming the next why is Cureton always subbed debate!
As for Rougier, tries hard but is not a striker in a million years. 3 goals in 2 years is testament to that. RFC vs Stoke - Sat 28th September. This is a game that if we lose we can start to 'contemplate' the unthinkable, returning to dire div 2. We must improve, particularly at home and the players must regain their confidence. In my opinion this is where Pards earns his money, he has got to get the players believing in themselves again and quickly!, I'm not sure he is the man to do it but that's a topic for another day. I said before the season started we needed a midfielder in the mould of Ince, Mcallister, Merson etc. They have all gone elsewhere and we need this type of player more than ever. Pardew should be looking for this player and sign him ASAP. Let's all get behind the team and let's have a good crowd making lots of noise against Stoke, it could make all the difference.
|I was quite pleased on Sunday when my post match opinion
following the Wimbledon game had somehow or other lost itself in the ether
between Sussex and Berkshire. I re-read my comments that I had sent in a
fit of anger the night before. Thank God, I thought that my slating of John
Salako wont be printed. [Has been now! Graham] After all, I've probably
over re acted, and he'll have a good game on Wednesday. How wrong I was.
He was as ineffective tonight, as he has been for most of the season. Why
Pards put him at wing back was amazing. He is neither quick, nor defensively
The tactics generally tonight were at best bizarre. Suddenly leaving a player out of the squad, who had been, according to his manager, good enough for the England under 21's, left all around me shocked. I hope for Alan's sake that Shorey's exclusion was due to some late injury. Butler hasn't done well lately, but leaving him out of the squad will hardly bring a return of confidence. We had no options once it was clear that the starting line up would never score, even if Norwich went home. Still no inclusion for Harper, or that other under 21 international Joe Gamble. I am frustrated by the lack of direction given to a willing, but inadequate bunch of players. I really dont believe in kneejerk reactions, but can anyone see us getting anything at Wolves? John Madejski has a lot of thinking to do.
|Just like Leicester, this game was effectively over after
precisely five minutes! Like a bunch of kids being mugged, Reading continue
to learn the hard way in that this is a much different ball game this season.
Defend like kids get punished like kids. Please let's not hear a load of
baloney about how well we played, passed the ball about but couldn't find
the goal. Crap. The reason we appeared to have lots of the ball last night,
was because Norwich were so in control and comfortable with their 2-0 lead
that they simply sat back, let us fart about then as soon as we got close
to their goal simply shut is out or waited for us to balls it up.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but why did AP start with three at the back against an obvious top side and why oh why drop Shorey? Why leave Forster on the bench? Back three looked very shaky and Mackie let himself down with a stupid sending off. I've said before, he is not a captain, and as for the chants "you'll never beat John Mackie", you must be bloody joking, he's been done so many times this season that he's close to joining the infamous Twizzle Hunter academy.
All said and done it was just another very disappointing home defeat following a nightmare start. So with three defeats on the trot , and an easy game on Saturday things are looking up! Finally a word about the thing in black last night. Thank you for the entertainment and thank you for showing us how good the Premiership refs are. Just proves that all refs do indeed all come from the planet Zog.
|Well there is not a lot that can be said about the match appart from the obvious. What just what was that ref doing? Premiership ref indeed. He gave them everything and us nothing. Reading started well and even after Norwich's second I thought that there may have been some chance of a Reading goal. Unfortunatley for us the ref must have had a few quid on Norwich. However no matter how much we moan about the ref they were the better team on the night. What has happened to Reading? We seem to like to give the ball away Salako will not run at people. Come on Reading us fans will support you all the way but we would like somthing in return. We deserve it.|
|This was a strange one. I am all for managers trying
something new, but last night did seem somewhat puzzling. In order to accomodate
Upson, Pardew opted for three centre backs and a new system. The man who
was dropped was Shorey who the same manager had been supporting as being
a player for England Under 21s! Strange! It may be that part of the deal
to get Upson here was that he would get first team football, and who can
say that they were not impressed when they heard that we had got him on
loan. On recent performances though, if he was to come in for anyone, it
should have been Mackie and last night confirmed that.
We started very brightly, with Roug. obviously up for it. The first few minutes saw two crosses flash across the Norwich goal. Then disaster struck. Roberts broke away and Mackie seem to let the cross go under him, and wheras with our crosses there was just nobody in the box, Norwich did have. Their second goal was well struck but again the result of a Mackie error. He gave away a needless free kick. got booked for arguing and eventually it fell to one of their players who hit a good shot which Marcus had no chance with. 5 minutes gone and two goals behind!
There was no coming back. The defence looked all over the place. By 20 minutes each of the centre halves had been booked and nobody looked comfortable. Salako was not in the game, and Murty seemed isolated. It was not Cureton's type of game and it was left to a battling Roug. to give us hope. When Mackie made a silly challenge it was obvious that he would have to go. The challenge was naive. He came on leaps and bounds last year, but he needs to move on again if he is to cut it at this level.
At the start of the season I was critical of Williams. Although he has no pace, his performances have become better and better. So what can we take from this game? Well the players never gave up, a fact that was not lost on the crowd. We did not really have the ability to break them down. When we did is was through the individual talent of Roug. who really should have done better with one effort as he waited too long to pull the trigger. I couldn't see clearly but it did seem that ha had another good shout for a penalty turned down. What he did do was to hold the ball up better than Butler of late. Norwich clearly saw him as the only threat as they would surround him every time he got the ball. Cureton was just brushed off the ball too easily too often, and Solako did not seem to have the energy for his role. Hughes Igoe and Watson were what we have come to expect. The quality was Murty but he still needs to work on his crossing. Norwich are obviously one of the beter sides in the division. We tried to come back after giving Leicester a two goal lead. It did not work. We looked more like breaking them down than we did Norwich last night. We have to find a way of getting more men in the box.
At present only Hughes of the midfield is likely to do it. That is simply not enough. So to the Wolves. Pardew has some thinking to do. Most would expect a return to a back four. Solako looks under threat from Tysoe. I am still not sure where the goals are going to come from. Roug. was more effective than Buts, but Cureton and Forster looked lost last night. What we have got is team spirit. That was clear last night. Norwich were better than us, but we did shoot ourselves in the foot and you cannot afford to keep doing that!
|Well - what a great idea. Only 1 goal conceded in the
previous 4 Division 1 games, Shorey looking like our most consistent player
of the season and the manager banging on about he should be in the England
U21 squad, Upson described as 'rusty' by the same manager from the Cambridge
game, and we're about to play one of the Divison's top teams who are bang
in form. So, hey, lets drop Shorey, put in Upson and try a system we haven't
played for 2 years. 15 minutes in, 2 down, all 3 centre backs on yellow
cards tells its own story. Is part of the deal for Upson some sort of guarentee
that he plays? If so, its a bad deal and bad management. If he has to play,
play him in a back 4 and drop Mackie. Mackie has been getting a lot of praise
recently, but his mistakes did us at Leicester and again tonight, against
seasoned pros like Deane and Roberts he looks vulnerable and panics.
It was obvious early on last night that the ref was a 'carder', so to go in with a reckless tackle from behind when you are already on a yellow was just unprofessional - shades of Sammy Igoe at Swindon last year - and that finished the game. We need to start again at Molineux, with a back 4 with Shorey and Murty as full backs.
|Why does Pardew keep Rougier? Twice he was through one on one with the keeper tonight and twice he fluffed it and the worrying thing is, he does it every time he s in front of goal. Cureton, Forster, Butler or Henderson would have buried at least one of the chances, probably both. We must go back to 4 4 2 and Cureton and Forster MUST start.|
|This was a very difficult game to watch. I would say
that the combination of Norwich's solidity in almost every area of the pitch,
the referee's ineptness and Pardew's bizarre tactics were Reading's downfall.
Norwich looked good at the back, their midfielders were strong and confident
and the partnership of McVeigh and Roberts always seemed a threat.
The ref had a shocker. He knew it as well. Even the Canaries fans stood up when the East stand sang "stand up if the ref's a twat". That was a blatant penalty when Rouge was fouled although he dived layer in the game and was lucky to get away without a booking. He felt he needed to stamp his authority on the game from the beginning but a quiet word in the ear rather than an early yellow card should be the way forward. I am amazed that Pardew still plays Salako. He rarely gives 100% or even 50%. How many times does he take players on? At least Tyson showed some passion when he came on and was willing to get up and down the left flank. Unless he's injured, how can you leave Shorey out? - Upson looked pedestrian last night.
And what about Fozzy? In the past two games we have needed some injection of pace upfront and Forster should start from the off. Coming on as sub takes him a while to get into the game. Rouge had a good game though, had a few good moments of skill and had a couple of chances to score. Watson ran about a lot but suffers from the "David Batty Syndrome" of sideways rather than forwards passing. I know he's getting on a bit but I would have Parky on the bench just in case we start getting overrun in midfield at least we can bring on a fighter.
Come on Pardew sort it out....don't try out new formations in big games like Norwich!!! With performances like this, it's going to be a long old season and we've still got teams like Portsmouth, Ipswich and Wolves to play!
|Disappointing - what happened to the 'caged tigers' mentality? Looks like the defence took a traquiliser dart before KO - or thought they were playing on a Sunday morning after a nite on the beers. Absolutely dreadful first 5 mins. At least we never stopped trying after that. Was disappointed with the sending off just when I thought we might have nicked one back before half time. Yes the ref was unbelievable, but at least he was consistent(ly bad). Mackie should have realised a half dodgy tackle was going to be carded. However, its not panic stations yet. The doubters should consider how far Pards has taken us. Still Mr P - remember to tell the team to play the full 90+ minutes, not 5 to 89........|
|Good to see the consistent mesages in the above opinions The Ref made some mistakes, particularly in the second half. (But that had little to do with why we lost) Norwich were the better side anyway. (Most of us would have predicted defeat at the start of the season.) The selection / tactics were criminal - Pards has some explaining to do. Dropping Shorey altogether ! Playing Murty, but not at full back Playing 3 at the back. Mackie's questionable abilities as both centre-back and captain Williams recent improvement since Upson's arrival Upson's rusty match fitness. Even those players trying their best to get something out of this game looked confused and hacked-off with the shambles. A pity Rouge had this as his opportunity to show why he should be first choice up front - the fact that he made a good contribution will probably be lost in the overall negative vibes from this one.|
|There are a lot of Reading fans who seem content with Alan Pardew's efforts at manager. But it isn't rocket science, it's a percentage game. Keep the ball, get the ball in the box as much as possible and keep a settled team. If he'd have had injuries last night I would keep quiet, but what happened last night was a disgrace, and I don't think the players can be blamed. Dropping Shorey, Butler, and Forster so soon after we demolished Burnley is puzzling (and that's being kind). Last season, lets face it, we nearly failed to go up through some bizarre team selections and comments ("all we've got to now is win our home games" - Pardew to the media before the 9 draws!). I think the board should thank Alan Pardew for his work in developing the club to the level it is now. They should then bring in someone who can take it forward to the next stage. At the end of the day Alan Pardew was the reserve manager we let go, he was re-employed because he was cheap, and he has now passed his sell by date.|
|I was somewhat concerned on hearing the team selection prior to kick off, no Shorey and three at the back, a selection by Mr Pardew to accommodate Upson? Well it certainly backfired, we were all over the place at the back for the first 10min by which time at 2-0 down the game was lost. Now John Mackie i feel is out of his of depth at this level, his positioning and ability to read the game is some what debatable, his obvious frustration to contain the Norwich forwards resulted in his justafiable sending off, he is also to inexperienced to be club captain. To be fair to Rougier he did no worse than Butler has done in recent games but if we do not get quality balls to our forwards they will not score, when we do get quality crosses in we just are incapable of getting someone on the end of them (oh for a Jimmy Quinn) We cannot fault the lads for there effort in the second half but Norwich were happy with there lot and it was no more than a training exercise for them in the second half. We have to be careful lossing can become a habbit, come on Mr Pardew sort it out. One last point the ref was an absolute total complete & utter!|
|It took me 2 1/2 hours to get up from Brighton to see the game. 5 minutes after the start I was ready to go home again. I can understand why Pards is trying various formations - we haven't been gelling as a team for some while and we're certainly not ready to go up. The problem is clearly in mid-field where we've missed a creative player ever since the demise of Caskey. Lets see more of Tyson & Gamble - what's the point of an Academy if we hardly ever play them, and why not give Harper a decent run? Rougier continues to be an enigma - watching him is like having great sex but without the orgasm (well it is for me anyway!) Thank God for Murty is all I can say.|
|Maybe a lot of people will moan about the ref. Certainly
he was abysmal. I just canít get over the first few minutes though. Usually
we start well & fade after 10 or 15 minutes. Tonight we turned off after
2. I donít know if 3-5-2 was a last minute decision, but the players certainly
didnít know what to make of it. I wrote last Saturday that Salako should
have been dropped for this one. Well he wasnít, and he had another crap
game (at least Pardew subbed him) Instead of that, lets drop Shorey and
Butler. Butler I can understand, we werenít scoring so try another forward,
but Shorey? Our defence was the only part that functioned last weekend.
Why mess with that? That was as dire as it gets. It could have been worse,
with Norwich attacking twice & scoring twice, I feared a thrashing.
In the end we can be grateful Norwich took pity and refused to heap further misery upon us. And why not? The ref & Mackie conspired to totally destroy the game. Pardew has to give the next selection / formation A LOT of thought. Our midfield is certainly not working properly. Cureton seems to have lost his instinctive finishing & anticipation. He never got close to scoring. Butler isnít looking likely, though he works hard. Rougier can do great things with the ball (he held the ball a couple of times while waiting for support) but he never supplies the end product.
What I would give to see last seasons Forster. The one we have this season doesnít look right. I canít say I saw him touch the ball. Iím not sure what the answer is, but Iíd like to ask that Pardew shares it with the players well in advance of Saturday, and preferably gets them to practice...
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