Date: Saturday, 29th Sept.
Kick off: 3:00pm
Referee: Andre Marriner (Sheldon, W.Mids).
UK TV: None.
Today sees Alan Pardew (complete with his new eight year contract), returning to his managerial alma mater, Reading.
Where José Mourinho and André Villas-Boas had Sir Bobby Robson, and Pep Guardiola had Johan Cruyff to guide them in their early stages of coaching, Pardew had Terry Bullivant. After a spell in the Autumn of his career as a player-coach under Bullivant at Barnet, Pardew subsequently moved with him to Reading in 1997. After playing 17 games for the Royals, once again as a player-coach, Pardew retired from playing, pressing on with his coaching role. When Bullivant resigned following a very poor run at Reading the following year, Pardew had his first taste of the hot seat as caretaker manager until the arrival of Tommy Burns. Like Bullivant before him, Burns didn’t last long, being sacked after the club were relegated to the then Division Two, leaving Pardew to be promoted to permanent manager in 1999.
Reading improved under Pardew. He eventually managed to lead them to 10th in 2002/3, then disappontment in the Second Division playoffs the following season. The season after that however, Pardew eventually achieved automatic promotion to the First Division after finishing second. After another playoff disappointment there, Pardew left the club who gave him his first opportunity in management in controversial circumstances to join West Ham, though his successor, Steve Coppell, turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for Berkshire club. Coppell managed to move them up another gear when he took them to the highest tier as champions with a record haul of 106 points.
Just as Pardew had Bullivant at Reading, current Reading manager Brian McDermott had Pardew as one of his managerial mentors there, and the baldy boss has been remebering fondly his days with the Silver Supremo at the Royals, and also Graham Carr too as Pardew originally took McDermott on as a chief scout for Reading and their paths often crossed. In a pre match media call for the upcoming game, McDermott recalled first of all how Pardew took him on as a chief scout, reminiscing:
“I’d never been a chief scout before and I was literally working incredible hours. I was out every single night scouting. I was taking the under-17s in the morning for an 11 o’clock kick off and then watching a game in the afternoon. I think he was paying me about £2.50 an hour. He got his money’s worth believe me. But I loved it and loved working with him. It was never a hardship” said McDermott, continuing:
“We’re playing a manager, Alan Pardew, who’s a good friend of mine, and I believe he set the identity for this club, over a period of time from the late 90s. The tempo of the team, pass the ball, get crosses into the box. Our work rate is second to none and I think he set that trend here at the club.
“I hope he gets a good reception. I remember the fact he brought me to the club in the first place so obviously I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. He was very good for me personally and very good for Reading. He’s had a number of clubs since and he’s been very successful…”
After more memories which are too lengthy to include here, McDermott eventually got on to the subject of Carr, saying:
“I know the scout there because I had the same job as him. We were always wandering around France and Holland and all these places. Even Greenland! He’s picked up some great players – Tiote, Cisse and Ba. We have to go a similar way but do it a bit cheaper than them even. He’s a very funny man Graham Carr. His son (Alan “chatty man” Carr) might get it from him.”
One other who shares links with both teams is of course ex Magpie, Danny Guthrie, who has found the regular first team place he wasn’t getting at Newcastle (he has played in all but one of their six games so far). Despite Reading rather poor showing in their first four Premiership games, he seems to have been doing very well from what I’ve seen. He has scored one for the Royals so far, in their 4-2 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and has become something of a fulcrum of their midfield.
Getting back to the more usual match preview stuff though…
Form this season
|Reading and Newcastle’s form so far|
Reading come onto the Premiership as definite underdogs, on a lower budget than even their fellow promotees who were also staging posts in the Special One’s journey to Tyneside, Southampton and West Ham. So far things are running true to the bookie’s expectations, with Reading currently lying bottom of the Premiership with a single point in four games. However this is one game less than all their other opponent bar the Mackems, with their game earlier in the season being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Their four Premiership games so far didn’t begin too badly with a 1-1 home draw against Stoke, but they then sank to a 4-2 away defeat against Chelsea, a 1-3 home loss to Tottenham, and finally, a 2-3 away loss to Queens Park Rangers. However, it is still so early in the season that if they had played that Blunderland game and won, they would have been sitting relatively pretty in lower mid-table.
Meanwhile of course, Pardew’s latest team lie bang in the middle of the Premiership currently in 10th with two draws, two wins and a loss. To refresh your memories, the Magpies opened the season with a 2-1 victory against Tottenham, a somewhat surprising one in the end due to their complete dominance in the first half. A home draw against Aston Villa followed, then a VERY lucky away draw which could easily have been 4-2 had it not been for a blind referee and linesman. Finally, there was that 1-0 home victory last Sunday against Chris Hughton’s Norwich City to bring us up to date.
Fairly few and far between really, their last encounter with the Magpies being in the Championship, with Kevin Nolan scoring both of our goals in a 2-1 victory at the Madejski Stadium. The game before that was a more convincing 3-0 victory at St James’ Park with Barry Moat (remember him?) as the guest of honour. It was certainly a good day for Shola Ameobi as he took the match ball home from that one for a hatrick consisting of two headers and a penalty. I have included some highlights of that game below as a little tribute to the big fella.
Newcastle United 3 – 0 Reading F.C. 15/8/2009 – Gan on Shola man!
We have to go back to the 2007/8 season in the Premiership for the previous encounters, another 3-0 at our place preceeded by a 1-0 victory to Reading at theirs. The season before (2006/7) they beat us 1-0 at the Madejski, and we beat them 3-2 at St James’. Then we need to go back to the previous century, which is hardly relevant so I wont go there. Suffice to say that our all time record against the Royals seems to be a convincing Played 12, Won 8, Drawn 1, Lost 3 with 30 goals for and 14 against, giving an aggregate score of Newcastle United 3, Reading 1.4. However, we just don’t seem to like it at their place much, whether it be the new Madejski or the old Elm Park. In all the eight games (in all competitions) we have played away to them, Our record is Played 8, Won 2, Drawn 3 and Lost 3, which is not so convincing.
Squads and previous Reading line ups.
Adam Federici (G), Alex McCarthy (G), Chris Gunter (D), Kaspars Gorkšs (D), Alex Pearce (D), Nicky Shorey (D), Adrian Mariappa (D), Shaun Cummings (D), Ian Harte (D), Sean Morrison (D), Garath McCleary (M), Danny Guthrie (M), Mikele Leigertwood (M), Jobi McAnuff (M), Jimmy Kébé (M), Jem Karacan (M), Jay Tabb (M), Hal Robson-Kanu (M), Brynjar Gunnarsson (M), Pavel Pogrebnyak (F), Adam le Fondre (F), Jason Roberts (F), Noel Hunt (F), Simon Church (F).
Doubtful: Jason Roberts (Calf).
Although Cheick Tiote and Fabricio Coloccini made their injury comebacks against Manchester United in Thursday’s League Cup defeat, Yohan Cabaye is the latest wounded Magpie to join the injury list with some kind of tooth problem. He will join Ryan Taylor (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), Danny Simpson (Hamstring) and finally Tim Krul (arm / Shoulder) on the list. So here’s the Magpies’ squad.
Steve Harper (G), Rob Elliot (G), Davide Santon (D), Steven Taylor (D), Mike Williamson (D), James Tavernier (D), James Perch (D, M), Vurnon Anita (M, D), Shane Ferguson (M, D), Jonás Gutiérrez (M), Cheick Tiote (M), Gabriel Obertan (M), Sylvain Marveaux (M), Dan Gosling (M), Gael Bigirimana (M), Romain Amaltifano (M), Mehdi Abeid (M), Hatem Ben Arfa (M, F), Haris Vučkić (M. F), Sammy Ameobi (M, F), Demba Ba (F), Papiss Cisse (F), Shola Ameobi (F), Adam Campbell (F).
Knacked: Yohan Cabaye (Tooth), Ryan Taylor (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), Fabricio Coloccini (Hamstring), Danny Simpson (Hamstring), Tim Krul (arm / Shoulder).
Reading line ups this season.
Last year in the Championship, it wasn’t hard to see that Brian McDermott had graduated from the Alan Pardew school of management. They played a 4-4-2 formation for every game. Then it wasn’t hard to see that McDermott came form the Pardew school of management. Solid ’90s English stuff with a target man and plenty of crosses coming in from the flanks. However as you can see from the line ups above, McDermoot has mixed things up far more in the Premiership this season. However, though the general shape of the team may vary depending on the opposition, the players involved haven’t varied a great deal. So while it’s hard to say exactly how they will line up, we can get a good idea of the players Newcastle United will be up against in this game.
Their main dangerman goalwise will probably be striker, Pavel Pogrebnyak. Since coming to the Premiership from VfB Stuttgart, where he was finding goals hard to come by in 2011 (only one in 14 in the first half of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season), the Russian international has scored 9 goals in 18 appearences in the Premiership so far. The first six came at Fulham after he joined them on loan in last season’s January transfer window, with the Russkie scoring 3 in 6 for Reading this season, one in the Premiership and two in the League Cup. He will be a must have for McDermott this afternoon, as will Danny Guthrie, who will be behind him in the centre of midfield, though I don’t need to tell you anything about him and what he can do. If two are played upfront, Adam le Fondre will almost certainly be the other striker, an honest centre forward who has worked his way up from the lower leagues at Stockport, Rochdale and Rotherham.
Newcastle United.Unlike my erstwhile colleague Andy, I won’t try to do a prediction of the side Pardew will put out, just my own preferred formation. Against Reading, I would go with three upfront, a Christmas tree or a 4-2-3-1 and try to batter them down. The hardest thing though will be replacing Cabaye with him almost certainly out of the game. I have selected Dan Gosling for a start on the right side of midfield in my Christmas tree 11. Some of you might think I’m mad, but I’m not, you are. I feel it’s time to let him have a go in what is a natural position for him, and I have also taken into consideration the defensive qualities in his play. Overall I think the team would be well balanced throughout the pitch, offering a good balance of attacking and defensive qualities. The hard working Gutierrez along with Gosling could cover the back four nicely, with Tiote winning the ball in the centre to get it to Ben Arfa so he can do what he does with Cisse and Ba at the front, and that’s all I’m saying on the matter!
Bearing in mind the history McDermott shares with Pardew in the formative years of his coaching career, this could well be a case of the student against the master, and Newcastle United should be strong favourites bearing in mind Reading’s lack of resources, and also their three Premiership losses out of four so far this season. Although the likes of Pogrebnyak, with Guthrie behind him could be a danger, we should have the strength to keep them down if we set oursleves up in the right way, with more than enough creativity upfront to create and score goals. After all, if we can’t go on the attack against Reading who can we go on the attack against?