Reading Home Preview 16/17

Magpies Look To Get Season Up And Running Against Royals

I think the one good thing you can have after a defeat at the weekend is the opportunity to try put that right quickly which a home game against Reading tonight gives us.

You don't want to be stewing on a defeat and I am sure the players want an opportunity to put things right and get our season up and running or at least I hope they do.

I don't want this to sound in any way disrespectful to Reading or sound like I think we are going to roll them over but I think as far as games and opposition go to follow up Saturday's disappointment then this is a decent one in the sense it is a home game first and foremost and against a team that I don't think you would say are one of the big guns.

Of course you could probably say that about the last 2 teams we have played but my point is that with us needing a win desparately I am glad tonight isn't an away trip to Brighton or Derby etc.

I have seen a lot of mixed reaction to our start with some fans seemingly panicking and others totally the other way sure that Rafa knows what he is doing and all will come good.

As ever I think I am somewhere in the middle. I am certainly not panicking and of course there should be no real pressure on the manager and his position this early into a season esepcially given the number of new players etc but at the same time I don't think what we have seen in the first 2 games has been acceptable so if we continue to get served up performances like that I am not going to sit here blindly patting Rafa on the back just because he has a decent CV.

A lot of money has been spent and he has had a full pre season to get the squad looking and playing how he wants it so whilst there is room for a couple of poor results to be put down to it being early in the season this is still a results business and some positive results need to start coming soon or the pressure will just increase.

That is why I think tonight is one of those games where I don't really think the performance matters too much it is just a case of getting 3 points on the board by hook or by crook and we can then work from there.

Of course it would be nice to get a good performance too but tonight after the last 2 games then I think it simply comes down to getting the result.

There will be at least one change in the lineup with Diame picking up a knock on his debut but you wouldn't be surprised to see the manager make a couple of other changes too as he continues to look for a winning formula.

If fit Ritchie has to start and I will be very disappointed if we see Anita on the wing again tonight. I know Aarons was poor on Saturday before being subbed at half time but would really like to see us go for it a bit at home and play both him and Ritchie to give us natural width on both sides and a bit of balance.

Other than that I wouldn't change much else from the weekend - I would play a 4-2-3-1 of: Sels, Janmaat, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie, Perez, Aarons, Gayle.

For me the time for playing a possession game and hoping the opposition make a mistake or we can hit them on the break is over - we need to start taking the game to teams especially at home.

If we can get a win tonight then I think that can just ease the pressure and kick start our season but Reading are a bit of an unknown quantity and they will have seen what Huddersfield and Fulham have done to us so far and I am sure they will try and replicate that.

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