Sunday, 19 September 2021

Clement itching to improve his players

READING manager Paul Clement hopes to use the international break to mastermind a turnaround in his side’s fortunes.

The Royals are bottom of the Championship with two points from their opening six games of the season.

They have lost their last two games, 2-1 against Sheffield Wednesday in the league last Saturday and 2-0 against Premier League side Watford in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday last week.

Now Clement has a fortnight to work on the training pitch during the international break.

“The best situation going into an international break is you win going into it,” Clement says. “We’ve lost ours but the process will be the same.

“Win, lose, draw, play well, play badly, we’ll reflect on the performance, ask ‘what do we need to work on?’ Get back on the training ground, and go again.

“We will work with the players on the training field, the ones who are here during the break. And that’s the guarantee I can give every player, that we’ll do some really good training.

“They’ll have the weekend off when there are no games. It’s important not to flog them to death on the training ground, even if that’s what you might feel like doing sometimes.

“But we have to remember that we’ve had six games and there are 40 to go!”

Next Saturday (September 15) Reading travel to Preston North End hoping to get their first win in the league.

Clement hopes the break will allow his players to regroup and be ready for the test.

“These two weeks will also give me a chance to take a step back and reflect on what has happened so far and then aim to find some positive solutions to it and establish what we’re going to do moving forward. The start hasn’t been good. Let’s make sure it doesn’t go into the next section of games.”

The former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich assistant coach says he sympathises with the supporters after a tough start.

“I feel for our supporters,” Clement said. “They’ve not seen many wins over a long period of time and they have been supportive.

“They’ve been very patient. I think they see their players trying — obviously there are mistakes — but they want to see their team do well.

“We’re also very frustrated, it is demoralising when you’re putting so much effort in and you’re not
getting the results that you want. They’re not getting on our backs when maybe they’ve got a right to do so.”

He added: “Adversity can bring the worst out of people, but it can also bring

the best out of people. You can dig in, stick together. And that’s what we’ll be doing.”

Meanwhile, Reading will sign 21-year-old Iran international Saeid Ezatolahi on a season-long loan from FC Rostov, becoming our eighth senior signing of the summer.

The midfielder started in Iran’s Group B matches against Spain and Portugal in the World Cup this summer.

Clement said: “Saeid is a strong, powerful central midfield player with good technical ability. He has experience playing at the highest level with both the Iranian national team and domestically with his current side FC Rostov and in time spent in Spain with Atlético Madrid.”

The loan remains subject to the usual ratification by the relevant football authorities and the granting of a work permit and UK visa and Ezatolahi could join his Royals teammates after the international break.

Reading have also announced that their 25-year-old centre-half Liam Moore has put pen to paper on a new five-year deal at Madejski Stadium.

The 2017/18 player of the season, voted for by the fans, has now committed his future to the club until the summer of 2023.

Clement said: “Over the summer there was a lot of speculation and uncertainty surrounding his future at the club and we are all delighted that he has agreed this new deal.

“Liam is an integral part of moving this club forward and I’m looking forward to us working together to achieve our objective.”

Moore joined the club from Leicester City two years ago and swiftly established himself as an invaluable member of our first team squad, making 47 starts in his maiden campaign as a Royal to help the club finish third in the Championship.

Last season he started every single league match to tally 49 appearances across all competitions, scoring three times.

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