Royals boss' thoughts after a feisty affair with La Liga visitorsRoyals boss Steve Clarke summed up a pre-season which started in Thailand, saw us take on two Premier League sides and two League Two outfits, then ended at home this afternoon with a feisty draw against La Liga visitors RDC Espanyol.
"It was a technical game where opportunities in front of goal for both teams were very scarce," he said after this afternoon's goalless draw with the Barcelona side.
"The fact we went down to ten meant I had to change my plans a little bit and some of the substitutions I had in mind to make I couldn't. But there were some good signs, especially in the first half.
"We started the game quite well and both teams passed it well. We got some decent balls in the box and a few half chances - Danny Williams in the first half, Orlando Sa got a good shot off in the second which is a good sign.
"No goals and that's a conversation I've just had with some of my coaching staff just now. I think we have to be better with set plays, we get a lot of set pieces we don't score enough from them.
"Really, we have to be a little bit more positive and creative in the final third of the pitch. Maybe we have to risk a little bit more to create chances."
Saturday afternoon's draw brought the curtain down on the Royals' pre-season preparations, all eyes now focussing on a trip to Birmingham City next weekend. Clarke summed up our summer's build-up after the 0-0...
"Pre-season is all about getting the fitness levels up and trying to avoid injuries. This year, unfortunately we have picked up one or two more than I would have liked.
"Pavel has picked up a knock, but Hector got a good hour today which is good for us and McShane was coming back from an injury today. Garath has unfortunately come back with a calf injury and I don't think he'll be available for us for the first few weeks of the season which is frustrating.
"But the general shape of the team, the players I've been working with - I'm happy with what we've done so far," he continued.
"We've brought in new signings, two new goalkeepers, McShane, Quinn, Orlando Sa have they have all been good signings for us - and it's been good to see them settle into the squad. And then you've got the boys who I know from before.
"Not having Hector or McCleary over the course of the summer is something we could have done without, but they were away playing very well for their country and now we've got them both back with us, even though Garath has come back injured.
"I think the shape of the team though, the organisation of the team is good. The players understand a little bit more about me and I understand a little bit more about them. That's what pre-season is all about."
As he has said in previous weeks, the Royals boss is still hoping to add to his squad before the end of the transfer window adding, "You normally find that the team you start with at the beginning of August is a little bit different to the team you play in the middle of September after the transfer window has closed, so let's see what happens.
"I'm still hopeful to get some more players in before the end of the window, which doesn't close until the end of the month, so althought it's never easy in the window, there is still some wheeling and dealing to be done before then.
"Right now, there are probably 16 to 20 teams who can be competitive and be in and around the play-off places come the end of the season. We are one of those teams. So it's important to get off to a good start; next week is an important game for us and we'll look to get some points on the board as early as possible."