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Opinion: Kevin Watson

2 November 2012

Ex-Royal confident in McDermott's men

Ahead of the QPR clash, we caught up with former Royals midfielder Kevin Watson for his views on all things Reading in the Barclays Premier League - here's what he had to say...

Ten goals in the last three home games, and no win. Entertaining, yes. But clearly there's one or two things we can look at to ensure the season ahead is a successful one – which I’m sure it will be.

Automatically, a lot of supporters will immediately point an accusing finger at the back four for their defending. In some circumstances I think there's justification in that. But for me, defending isn't just about a back four - defending starts from the front. From your centre forward first and foremost, and then back through the team. It's all too easy sometimes to lay the blame solely at the defence's door. So many attacks can be stopped a lot higher up the pitch. The 'goals for' column clearly isn't a problem at the moment but the 'against' one obviously is.

I read somewhere that in the Fulham match, the Cottagers had 74% possession of the football. Now, if you concede that amount of possession in a match, at some stage you will find yourself under long spells of pressure and inevitably will ship chances and ultimately goals.

The Royals started like a house on fire against Arsenal on Tuesday night. Every time they went forward the ball seemed to end up in the Gunners’ net. It was tremendous high tempo start and we didn't allow them time to settle on the ball and get their passing game going. I think it really took Arsenal by surprise and they found it very difficult to get going after such a lacklustre start.

I, like Brian McDermott feel the Walcott goal right on the stroke of half time was a very pivotal point in the match. Go in at 4-0, and I think there's no way back. But at 4-1 going into the break, we knew that Arsenal would have a glimmer of hope and give it a real go in the second half.

And so that's how it turned out to be. Reading had poured so much effort into that first half in terms of intensity and tempo, that when Arsenal began to turn the screw and move the ball they struggled to cope with it. In my opinion you can only sustain a high tempo, pressing game for a certain amount of time in a match. Human nature dictates that it cannot be done for a entire 90 minutes.

Therefore, you have to adjust as the game gets older. It's no problem at the start of a game when your midfield boys are fresh and can get up and down no problem. The problem starts for me when the lads start getting tired and go from back to front too quickly. Your midfield can no longer get up to support the front lads who become isolated so hence the ball gets turned over so much more.

That said, I thought Reading were terrific in that first half and even the start of the second where they could and should have had a penalty when Hunty was bundled over. If that's given and the penalty is scored, then game is almost certainly over at 5-1.

So on to this massive game v QPR on Sunday. For me, this is most definitely a winnable game for The Royals. I'd like to see that same high intensity, high tempo start that the boys displayed against Arsenal even though they are away from home.

It's no good going there and seeing what Rangers have to offer before you get going yourself. This will only give a struggling team confidence and get their fans right behind them.

Take the game to them, get in their faces and don't let them play. Hopefully that approach will be enough to get our noses in front and once that happens you then have to know how to win a game of football. Keep the ball moving and play through the team. Dictate the pace of the game as oppose to having to chase it.

Plenty of 'character' will be needed after Tuesday but knowing Brian as I do - I'm sure he will have the lads in exactly the right frame of mind come Sunday lunchtime. Professional pride will also ensure that each and every one of those players will want to put things right.

Let's go there, pass the ball and continue to create chances. Be positive and I'm confident Reading FC will begin to climb this league. URZ!

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