Reading boss eyes home improvements against Canaries following rare victory
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Reading have lost all three of their Championship home games so far this season but manager Paul Clement is feeling rejuvenated ahead of Norwich City's arrival at the Madejski Stadium.
The Royals picked up their first victory of the season on Saturday, winning 3-2 at Preston despite being pegged back twice by Alex Neil’s stubborn side.
Clement is hoping the result can spark his squad’s campaign into life and shake off a terrible run of home form which has seen the Berkshire side win just two of their last 16 league games on their own turf.
Both of those victories came soon after the former Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Chelsea assistant manager had succeeded Jaap Stam at the end of March, beating QPR and Preston 1-0.
Carlo Ancelotti’s former right-hand man then set about changes to the playing squad during the summer but was soon being touted as the first Championship managerial victim.
Draws at Blackburn and Reading finally got some points on the board but a 2-1 home loss to Sheffield Wednesday made for an uncomfortable international break – only for the win at Preston to revive Clement’s hopes.
“We’ve got two home games and it would be nice to now back it up with good performances and more results at home this week,” the Royals boss said ahead of tomorrow’s clash with City and the visit of Hull on Saturday.
“We’re coming back home now, but we can’t relax. We have struggled at home recently and if you can come away in this league and play to the level we have – on Saturday we scored three goals away from home and won – you certainly should be able to do it at home.
“But it’s not a matter of home comforts this week. You’ve got to do the work, you’ve got to do the details right, you have got to graft!
“The spirit of that group on Saturday I was pleased with; they have responded to a lot of adversity since the start of the season and hopefully the win at Preston can be a momentum-changer for us.
“The target for every game is to try and win. That’s not happened very much of late, but it did on Saturday. On Wednesday, when Norwich come to Madejski Stadium, the target will be to win again.”
The former Derby and Swansea boss took over from Stam after the Manchester United legend had been unable to shake off the hangover of play-off final defeat to Huddersfield in 2017, losing on penalties at Wembley.
Drawing 0-0 at Cardiff on the final day of last season was enough to avoid the drop by three points, with Barnsley and Burton going down on the final day – taking eight points from a possible 24 after Clement’s arrival.
Some of the dead wood was cleared during the summer and experience brought in with David Meyler and Andy Yiadom joining for free from Hull and Barnsley respectively, as well as 37-year-old former Manchester United defender John O’Shea after Sunderland’s relegation.
With established Championship players including Liam Moore, Chris Gunter and Sone Aluko already on board, Clement’s team may be in the relegation zone but they have not been beaten by more than one goal, in defeats to Derby, Forest, Bolton and Wednesday.
But after goals from summer signing Sam Baldock, former Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori and ex-Villa midfielder Leandro Bacuna earned victory at Deepdale on Saturday, attentions have now turned to home form.
Clement expects a ‘difficult game’ against the Canaries though, after Daniel Farke’s side beat high-flying Middlesbrough 1-0 at the weekend.
“I think you saw some good stuff from us at Deepdale – some nice details that were executed well,” he continued, speaking to Reading’s official website.
“And those details make the difference sometimes – we got over the line at the weekend.
“Those supporters who were in Preston on Saturday supported the team brilliantly. A lot will have been back at home, delighted to see we picked up an away result.
“Now we’ve got to keep it going. Every day we’re working on improving; there are 100 things in Saturday’s game we need to do better on, just like there were 100 things we did really well.
“That’s all part of training a professional football team – there are always going to be things you’ve got to improve on. And that’s what we do day-to-day. I’ve got confidence in these players, we’ve been close in a lot of games this season.
“The game comes quickly but we always do our proper analysis of the next opponent, scout them, watch the games, video analysis – so we’ll be ready for them. We expect a difficult game against Norwich. But they should expect a difficult game as well.”