Manager previews meeting with QPR
With Queens Park Rangers visiting Madejski Stadium on Thursday evening, Royals boss Steve Clarke wants his team to get back to their sumptuous best that they showed earlier in the campaign.
The Royals’ early-season form was characterised by stubborn defending, creative build-up and razor-sharp attack – and he wants his team to unlock that potential again when the West London club visit Berkshire.
“It’s live on television, where it will be a chance for us to show what we can do as a team and get back on track,” Clarke said.
“Hopefully we can get back to doing what we do well, which is to be solid as a team, move the ball well and look a threat and get lots of shots on the opposition goal. And we want to get ourselves the three points that we need to get ourselves moving again.”
The Royals could re-enter the top six with a win on Thursday, meaning other teams will have to do the chasing when the Saturday games kick off.
With an average of 16.61 shots taken and just 8.72 shots conceded per game in the Championship this year, Reading's stats at either of the field continue to stack up better than any other team - as they have done since the early weeks of the season.
“If you play first, you have to try and take advantage and get some points on the board so that come the weekend, there is just a little bit more pressure the teams that are around us and so they have to get the points as well,” he continued.
“It’s the start of December and there are lots of games to go. All we’re looking for is to get back to winning ways and to what we did well earlier this season. It’s not so long ago – about eight weeks ago people were saying what a fantastic team we were and things were going in the right direction, so we have to get back to that.
“We defended well as a team and everyone was working hard to stop the opposition getting shots away – we didn’t concede many shots on goal earlier in the season. Now we’re conceding more shots; not a terrible amount, but a lot of them seem to be ending up in the back of our net at the moment.
“Sometimes in football you get these moments. So all you have to do it dig in, work harder and come out the other side better and stronger.”
QPR, under the stewardship of Neil Warnock, secured a 1-0 victory against his old side Leeds last weekend and the Royals boss knows Rangers will approach the game in an upbeat manner.
Clarke continued: “Neil has gone in there and tightened things up – they had a good result at the weekend and they’ll come here with a bit of confidence behind them.
“It’s important that we approach the game in the same manner. For us it’s to get back to the basics and do what we do well – if we do that, I think we’re good enough to get a result.”