José Gomes has brought back a positive vibe to the Madejski and seems to have the Reading fanbase on board, Próxima Jornada looks at how Gomes has done and how he has managed to make such a great impact.
Paul Clement was removed from his position due to a run of desperately poor results which saw the Royals win just 2 games out of 12 at the end of his tenure. Scott Marshall stepped in as interim boss whilst they sought Clements successor, during this time Marshall failed to win any of his 3 games and lost 2 and the Royals were languishing in 22nd place in the Championship, 2 places from bottom.
José Gomes, who had previously worked as an assistant at FC Porto, Malaga and Panathinaikos, was in charge of Rio Ave when Reading came calling and ultimately got their man.
Since arriving in Berkshire, Gomes has brought tactical stability to the club through his implementation of a 4231 system. Earlier in the season, Reading had struggled for consistency due in part to sporadic tactical changes, with Clement alternating between a 433, 4231, 352, 4141 and a 442.
Things did not start perfectly for Gomes, losing 2 of his opening 3 matches, drawing the other. However, it was the 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, who were 7th in the league at the time, when the tide began to turn for the Royals. Gomes worked towards (and achieved) making his side defensively solid and relatively hard to beat. This can be attributed to the consistency of his side’s formation and shape, allowing team-mates to build greater relationship on the field and develop a greater awareness of each-other’s strengths and weaknesses. A constant change in tactics and formation, as demonstrated under Clement, hinders this development. The best way for a team to gel and find their ‘groove’ is arguably through repetition and consistency.
Since the Forest game, Reading have lost just 3 in 12 league games. With those 3 defeats coming at the hands of then 6th placed Derby, 3rd placed Sheffield United and 2nd placed Leeds United. Gomes’ focus clearly lies with taking points of those teams around them in the table and it is working. In a 3-game spell in which Reading faced 22nd placed Rotherham, 24th placed Ipswich and 19th placed Wigan, Reading picked up 7 out of 9 points, scoring 6 goals in the process.
The only possible criticism of José Gomes so far is the amount of draws he has had so far, drawing 6 of his 15 games in charge. However, to criticise Gomes and Reading for this would be small-minded and unfair. If you were to ask most Reading fans, they would be delighted with the fact that Reading are simply not losing games anymore and the first step into stopping the rot, is to turn defeats into draws.
His next step going forward is obviously to begin turning these draws into wins, but with any managerial job that sees your team near the relegation zone, Gomes must take it one game at a time.
With 7 games left, Reading must continue to take points off those teams also battling for survival, anything gained against the top half is a bonus. A positive result against 7th placed Preston at the Madejski on Saturday, would put the Royals in a great position going into the last stretch of the season.