News and Views

Clarke Eyes First Points At Managerless Brighton

24 December 2014
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Steve Clarke will be optimistic of picking up his first points as Reading manager as the Royals travel to 22nd placed Brighton and Hove Albion on Boxing Day. Like Reading, Brighton are another club going through management transition. A week after Nigel Adkins was sacked as Reading boss, Brighton parted company with their manager Sami Hyypia after he resigned with Brighton struggling in the relegation zone. Brighton were tipped for big things this season but survival has become their new target after a run that includes just one win from 18 league games. Brighton weren't as prepared as Reading for their managers departure and will most likely be under the control of caretaker manager Nathan Jones on Friday.

At the start of the season very few would have thought this would be a crunch game for two sides hoping to avoid the drop. Last season ended with Brighton dramatically taking the last play-off place with a late goal on the last day of the season. Reading drew at home to Burnley, and finished 7th, when a win would have seen them stay above Brighton for a shot at promotion. Brighton missed out on promotion after play-off defeat, and both sides were left hoping for improvement this season.

If Brighton reverse their very poor recent form and manage to defeat a struggling Reading side then they would remain in the bottom three but would be just three points behind Reading. A Reading defeat could see them drop as low as 21st in the Championship if results go against them. Clarke's single game in charge at Reading did show some positive signs, but in the end Reading still lost 0-1 at home to a side that played the entire second half with ten men. It may be a while before we see any dramatic change under the leadership of the former West Brom manager. Brighton will be hoping that they make an instant rebound under the guidance of their caretaker manager - both sides have plenty to prove. Out of eleven games each, Brighton have won just two games at home while Reading have won just two on the road.

Last season Reading faced Brighton three times - drawing twice in the league and losing 0-1 at Brighton in the FA Cup third round. Those three games only managed to produce a total of three goals, of which the Royals scored just one. That goal came during the 1-1 draw at Brighton in March when Drenthe scored a second half equaliser to earn a share of the points. So two teams under new managers, both struggling in the wrong half of the table, and with a low scoring recent record. It's not really set up to be a classic. Anything could happen but you can't help think it might be worth a few quid on 0-0.

It's a busy festive period as usual with Reading facing Norwich City at home just two days after playing Brighton. We played Norwich just a month ago at their place when we came away with a shock 2-1 victory. It wasn't enough to save Adkins though as Reading could only follow it up with 0-0 home draw with Bolton and that fateful 1-6 reverse at Birmingham City.

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