Our series of articles assessing the potential of certain key candidates from the three promoted clubs got underway earlier today with a look at Southampton’s Rickie Lambert. Next up under analysis is skipper of the npower Championship winners Reading, Jobi McAnuff:
The left winger was a key contributor in his side’s title-winning season last time round. McAnuff missed just six league matches, playing 40 times and, with five goals and 11 assists, was the Royals’ chief creator; only Noel Hunt – with eight goals and nine assists – contributed to more of Reading’s 69 goals in 2011/12. With McAnuff’s game time looking assured for the upcoming campaign, he looks in pole position to once again play a significant part in his side’s attacking forays.
McAnuff began his career as a 20-year-old at Wimbledon in 2001-02. Over the course of his three seasons with the Dons he made 96 league appearances and netted 12 times before the club went into administration – as a result, he joined Alan Pardew’s West Ham in the January 2004 transfer window. His time at Upton Park was brief, however; the winger played just 13 matches and scored a single goal before making his way to Cardiff after just six months at the London club.
Once again, he was afforded little time to settle – a single season in Wales produced two goals in 44 league appearances before Crystal Palace came calling. McAnuff spent two years at Selhurst Park, returning 12 goals and seven assists in 77 league matches before joining up at Watford in June 2007 in a deal thought to be worth £1.75m. A couple of seasons at the Hornets saw the winger make 82 league appearances, scoring five times and providing 14 assists before former Watford boss Brendan Rodgers snapped up his services for Reading prior to the closure of the August 2009 transfer window. Despite Rodgers’ subsequent departure, McAnuff seems to have finally found his home at the Madejski and has flourished under the guidance of Brian McDermott. Already, he has spent three seasons at the club and, prior to the beginning of last term, was handed the armband – to date, he has appeared in 116 league matches for the Royals, scoring 12 goals and providing 27 assists.
Although Reading have been one of the busiest clubs in this summer’s transfer window with six new faces already unveiled, McAnuff’s position has not been threatened. The acquisition of Garath McCleary from Nottingham Forest places doubts over last season’s regular right winger, Jimmy Kebe, but McAnuff, as the skipper, looks a far more secure starter on the opposite flank.
To some extent, the downside to investing in Reading’s attacking assets is that there was no real home/away disparity in terms of goals scored last term; the Royals bagged 36 in front of their own fans and 33 on the road, meaning it could be a touch more difficult to rotate their mid-price options with as much confidence as, say, Southampton; Nigel Adkins’ side notched 13 more goals at home (49 versus 36), for example. McDermott’s tactics means the Royals utilise speed on the flank to hit on the counter, regardless of opponent – in all likelihood, there is as much chance of McAnuff producing the goods away from home as there is at the Madejski if the club keep the same approach as last season.
Costing 5.5 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) and 5.0 in the Sky Sports game, McAnuff is reasonably priced, considering his creative potential but there are, perhaps, question marks as to whether McDermott’s approach will be quite so fruitful in the Premier League. Of all the Royals midfield assets, though, McAnuff looks to hold the most potential, given how vital the wide men are to their attacking forays; bearing in mind the central midfielders’ main job in McDermott’s system is to sit deep in front of the back-four and break up the opposition play, their appeal looks comparatively sparse.
A double Gameweek 1 will no doubt boost McAnuff’s initial level of investment, with Reading playing host to Stoke before travelling to Chelsea but, after that, the schedule is anything but enticing. With trips to Sunderland and West Brom, allied with home clashes against Spurs and Newcastle in addition to a blank Gameweek 3, it’s fair to say the allure of Reading’s assets could quickly dissipate – bearing in mind there are a handful of similarly priced or cheaper options with better opening schedules, it could well be we treat McDermott’s men with much trepidation until their fixtures take a turn for the better.
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For Gameweek 38
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