Newcastle head to the Madejski Stadium to take on Reading in our first regulation, Saturday, 3pm, kick-off of the season to date.
It feels odd saying that as we head into October, but then I guess that is the price paid for playing in the Europa League.
Anyway, it’s a meeting of old boys in Royal Berkshire for this one as Alan Pardew gets the chance to go toe-to-toe with his protégé from his time at Reading, Brian McDermott. It was Pardew who hired the 51-year-old after a chance meeting at Brentford. Unemployed but clearly impressing Pardew, McDermott was offered a job as chief scout AND U17s coach. A demanding role which McDermott took with both hands.
Fast forward some 12 years and McDermott is now manager of Reading having worked his way up from pretty much nothing, and he says he will always be grateful to the current Newcastle manager for giving him a chance when nobody else would. Indeed McDermott believes that Reading wouldn’t be where they are now without Pardew and still feels that it was his foundations that have built the club to what they are now.
“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,” said McDermott.
He added: “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 an early season injury crisis things seem to be looking up with regard to player fitness. Cheik Tiote came through the League Cup game at Manchester United unscathed giving him a second appearance of the week and is likely to be in the starting eleven tomorrow afternoon. Fabricio Coloccini also completed an hour against the Red Devils and assuming there was no tenderness (none has been reported) then I would say it’s safe to assume he will resume his regular starting role in the heart of defence.
There is better news regarding Danny Simpson and Tim Krul also, both of whom are back in training at least although unlikely to feature against the Royals. The Bordeaux match next Thursday may be a reasonable guess for them to get some match practice under their belt.
Ryan Taylor is now our only long term absentee as he continues to recover from ligament damage.
Adam Federici may or may not be available for selection. The goalkeeper was said to be suffering with a knee injury however Brian McDermott has since confirmed that he was dropped due to poor form, although there does seem to be an issue with his knee that needs addressing.
Confusing if you ask me.
Jason Roberts is out with a calf injury although Jimmy Kebe is once again available for selection after returning in their mid-week League Cup tie at QPR.
Alan Pardew is likely to revert to a stronger side than the one we seen in midweek against Manchester United. Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Yohan Cabaye, Davide Santon, Steven Taylor and Steve Harper all failed to feature at Old Trafford and are likely to be recalled to the side tomorrow.
Reading usually play a 4-4-2 formation so I’m wondering whether it will be worth matching up to them. In midfield we are likely to face former Magpie Danny Guthrie who is likely to be paired with Mikele Leigertwood. If Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote play together in midfield for us I fancy us to win that particular duel.
Our defence will need to be on top of their game against Adam Le Fondre and Pavel Pogrebnyak. Both are mobile strikers so our central defensive pairing will need to be alert to their runs.
Newcastle played Reading last when we were in a very dark place in our recent history. Having been freshly relegated to the Championship it was Reading who were the team to first visit St James’ Park. I was there that day and I can proudly say that I witnessed a Shola Ameobi hat-trick as the hosts ran out 3-0 winners.
In that same season the return leg at the Madejski Stadium saw us complete a league double over the the Royals. Kevin Nolan scored two before a late own goal from Danny Simpson ensured a nervy final twenty minutes for the visitors but ultimately, as we’ve become accustomed to, we saw the game out.
In terms of Premier League meetings between the two sides at Reading it doesn’t make for good reading. We’ve played there twice and lost there twice – a 1-0 defeat in the 2006/2007 season followed up by a 2-1 defeat in the 2007/2008 season.
Overall there have been just four top flight meetings between the two sides. As mentioned, Reading have won the two at their ground with us beating them on both occasions at St James’ Park.
Newcastle are favourites for this game which is a dangerous position to be in and one that I personally don’t like. The perception seems to be that Reading will be a pushover but don’t let their current status of being rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table fool you.
We’ve been here before, several times, under numerous managers and not one of them have managed to take any Premier League points from the Madejski. Reading, buoyed by Brian McDermott wanting to prove a point to his old boss, will be up for this and will be wanting to get their season on track as they fight to stay in the league.
I’ve always had this thing about Newcastle and complacency, not just with the players, but from some of our own fans also. Just because the are “only” Reading it doesn’t change the fact that we have to get the job done on the day.
Three points could potentially take us to fourth in the table depending on other results, and although league position can’t have too much notice taken of it at this stage of the season it will at least give us all a boost. Remember, if it happens, we’ll have done it with injuries to key players and whilst not playing fantastically well, and that’s a good thing!
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 29th September, 2012
Venue: The Madejski Stadium, Reading, Berkshire