Reading Fanview: 'We'll be turning to Pogrebnyak for inspiration this season'

"Brian McDermott is well on his way to becoming our most successful manager" - A Royals fan offers his views on the club ahead of the 2012-13 Premier League campaign
FAN: Dan Wimbush
WEBSITE: The Tilehurst End

The target: Same again

Cliche as it sounds it has to be 17th or higher. Regular Premier League football is vital to help us grow and develop under new owner Anton Zingarevich and with the bump in TV money next season it's even more important to stick around for at least a second season. We've certainly got a squad that's capable of staying up and we won't be trying a Blackpool/Burnley type of season where we just take the £80 million and almost build for relegation. I think Brian McDermott and the owners will be hoping to emulate the recent success of Norwich, Swansea and Stoke but if you offered them 17th right now I'm sure we'd take it.

My thoughts on the gaffer...

Brian McDermott is well on his way to becoming our most successful manager, with a season of Premier League survival all that stands between him and the current 'holder' of that title Steve Coppell. Arguably Brian has already bettered the former Palace manager because he's had to build a string of sides in his two-and-a-half years in charge with next to no money available.

He's lost players like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Shane Long and Matt Mills and stlll taken us to a play-off final, two FA Cup quarter-finals and the Championship title and there's a serious argument to suggest he's been the best manager in the country over the past three years.

Brendan Rodgers has been deservedly lauded for the job he's done at Swansea but when you consider that Brian inherited a side that Brendan had hovering just above the relegation zone and took us to 9th within five months, before winning the title less than two years later, he deserves a fair bit of praise.

Our key man this season

Pavel Pogrebnyak. Reading won the title last year based largely on a solid defence and then nicking goals at key times. While I don't think that strategy will change too much it's important that we have a talisman who we know can unlock defences and this season we'll be turning to the Russian international for that inspiration.

We'll also need good contribution from the wingers, and Jobi McAnuff and Jimmy Kebe will also be crucial if we're to remain a Premier League side next season.

Youngster to watch

While not quite youngsters it'll be interesting to see how the likes of Alex Pearce, Jem Karacan and Hal Robson-Kanu adapt to life in the top division. Having come through the youth ranks it's always nice to see home grown players make it at the top level and those three will all have a big part to play.

Further down the line and two names to look out for are Dominic Samuel and Jordan Obita. Both are England Under-19 internationals and both have been in sensational form in the Academy side.

Obita is the closest to the first team, having gone on our pre-season tour of Portugal and the young winger enjoyed  successful loan spells at Barnet and Gillingham at the end of last season to show that he's not a million miles away from the first team.

Samuel is a striker who went on a ridiculous scoring run with our Under-18 side last year that led to him signing pro terms at the turn of 2012. Quick and skilful, he's still not played in the league but he could well make an impact in a couple of years time.

A player who must deliver

As mentioned earlier it's probably the Pog. If he doesn't start hitting the back of the net we'll be relying on a 35-year-old Jason Roberts and a trio of players who have never played in the top division of Noel Hunt, Simon Church and Adam Le Fondre.
Our Achilles heel

Depends on who starts each game but if our back line includes Pearce, Gorkss and Harte then you're always worried about teams with pace. Swansea showed in the play-off final just over a year ago that as good as Harte is, he's still capable of being utterly roasted by a quick winger and while our centre backs aren't slow, they aren't the quickest either. McDermott has seemingly recognised this weakness by signing Chris Gunter, Adrian Mariappa and Nicky Shorey but by the looks of pre-season we'll at least be starting with the players that got us there first.

Other then that it's probably the aforementioned lack of depth up front that could see us come unstuck.

Fixture I am looking forward to the most...

Again excuse the cliche but I'm looking forward to trips to Old Trafford, the Emirates and Anfield. Aside from that our games against West Ham have always got a bit of needle to them as do our fixtures against Chelsea with some fans on both sides a little p***** off over the fall-out to the challenge that left Petr Cech with a fractured skull at the Madejski back in 2006.

Our toughest opponents will be...

The obvious answer is Manchester City. The depth and quality of that squad is frightening and when they can field a player on the bench like Milner who cost about five times as much as our squad, you know you'll be up against it!

However, our toughest games might just be the ones we're expected to win, as the players will know that getting three points against teams like Swansea and Southampton is far, far more important.

Player we love to hate

Tough to pick one out, if there was a manager I'd say Big Sam but otherwise it's the usual cast of characters including Nani, Tevez etc. Also an honourable mention to Kevin Nolan who has been a whinging little so and so at every game I've seen him play.

Rival Premier League player you'd have in your team

I'd have David Silva or Wayne Rooney, please. Probably Rooney as he's got the sort of work rate that we've come to expect at Reading in the last 10 years.

My first choice XI





My verdict

It's going to be a really, really interesting season as a Reading fan. We've got six new signings to bed in plus a team that's largely inexperienced at the top level of English football so how they acclimatise will be interesting. I think we've got enough quality to stay up and we've also got the finances to be able to sign two or three more in this window or in January should things start to go pear shaped. Brian has proved that he's a master of building a side with no money so who knows what he might be able to accomplish now that he's got a bit to spend.

Overall I'm just looking forward to what should be an interesting season and quietly confident that we'll be writing Premier League previews again for 2013/14