A decent result against Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon has raised the spirits amongst Reading supporters, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that a 90th-minute penalty saved us from our fourth defeat of the season and some fans were still unhappy with how the team had performed up until the latter stages. So the question is; does Paul Clement deserve the criticism he is receiving? In my opinion, he does. Now I am not by any means saying he should be sacked, but I do think however that something needs to change. Whether it’s the performance of the players or the tactics used by Clement, something is not going right.
Following the Royals game against Bolton a fortnight ago, fans started putting the pressure on the board, trying to get them to make a change in the dugout, and honestly, I agreed with them at first. The football was mediocre, the effort from the players was poor, and it seemed as if a change was needed to try to light a fire underneath the players again, to try to motivate them to fight for the fans that pay money to come and watch them. However, Clement doesn’t seem like he is the type of person that will give the players a proper dressing down in the changing room (Alex Ferguson style) meaning that players feel like they can get away with murder and not have to suffer because of poor performance.
Paul McShane gave away two penalties on Tuesday night and, even though he was dropped from the squad for the weekend, he would more than likely walk straight back into the squad in the next fixture, despite being the main reason we threw away a 2-0 lead. Maybe we need a manager that is harsher on his players like Bielsa at Leeds. Can you imagine what Bielsa would have said to this sorry bunch at Reading? Well, we can only guess.
However, my mindset has wavered slightly. Maybe Clement isn’t the most strong-willed of managers, perhaps he isn’t going to take us to the Premier League, but he is good at what he was brought in to do. He came in when we were flirting with relegation, and he managed to save us for another season and for that I think he deserves fifteen-to-twenty games of this season to see if he can push us up the table. If not, then I am sure no fan will argue with his dismissal, but five games into the season is harsh, especially after the amount of time Jaap Stam was given during last season.
He needs to take control of the dressing room, however, rather than losing his head and the dressing room (which he is known to do if Darren Bent is to be believed). As long as he maintains power over his players and starts to rip into them when times are tough, then he should be safe in his job for the next couple of months. If not, we can only hope for someone tough like Bielsa to take charge at Reading.