Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s dream start continued with a fifth victory in five games but the first stern test of his interim reign is next: the trip to Tottenham next Sunday. The run equals Sir Matt Busby’s non-wartime club record, but how United fare against a team 10 points and three places better off will be a litmus test of progress.
After the downing of Reading ensured safe passage to the FA Cup fourth round, Solskjær batted away the proposition that United had enjoyed an easy run of matches. “When you go to Cardiff in the first game it’s never easy,” he said. “At home you’re expected to beat Bournemouth and Huddersfield, never easy games. There are no easy games in the Premier League. Newcastle away, I thought that was a professional performance.
And now Solskjaer - the first manager in United history to win his first five games - speaks! Was the result better than the performance, asks Matt Smith of BT Sport? “Yeah I think you’re right there. Two-nil, a clean sheet again, and I have to say they made it tough for us. And probably I made it tough for us, because you know when you make nine changes, it’s never easy for a team that’s never played together. So I’m delighted we’re in he next round. We learned a lot. We know we need some fitness work, and to work on relations. But I’ve put a team together that’s never played together. We knew they were going to come and play, and they made us work hard. When we had possession we were too wasteful, and we know we have things to improve on. If we repeat that performance at Wembley, we won’t have a clean sheet or any points.”
There were some other 12.30pm kick-offs in the FA Cup third round today. Here are the results.
Bournemouth 1-3 Brighton & Hove Albion Burnley 1-0 Barnsley Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Luton Town Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Stoke City West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Wigan Athletic West Ham United 2-0 Birmingham City
That’s five wins out of five for Solskjaer. Five shiny bronze centimes for the thoughts of Jose Mourinho. United jet off for some warm-weather training in Dubai, in order to prepare for their trip to Tottenham Hotspur next Sunday. Reading meanwhile take succour from a gusty performance, dusting themselves down for the visit of Nottingham Forest next Saturday.
Enough time for Jaakkola to fingertip a long-range Pereira effort around the post, and it’s a routine win for United. The hosts did what they had to do, and they sail comfortably into the fourth round. Championship strugglers Reading played extremely well, but ultimately were too blunt up front to bother Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s second string.
90 min: A komik kut at the end, as Rashford, one-on-one with Jaakkola, tries to round the keeper on the right ... then stands on the ball and skitters hysterically out of play for a goal kick. He laughs heartily at his mistake, yet another sign that United are playing with renewed joie de vivre.
89 min: Reading pile forward in a desperate attempt to get back into the game. Suddenly Pereira spots Lukaku alone on the halfway line. His long pass forward momentarily looks to set the striker free, but Jaakkola is out quickly to sweep the ball away from danger.
88 min: Reading have had 13 attempts at goal today; United just the seven. Reading still on 60% possession. But it’s the small things that matter at this level, and the hosts have snaffled their chances when they’ve come.
86 min: Swift finds space out on the right and curls a cross into the area. Romero is out to claim. The visitors are keeping on, right until the end.
84 min: Chong strokes a pass wide right for Dalot, whose looping cross eludes Pereira, diving in for a header, six yards out. There was a slight nudge on Lukaku as the ball came over, and the referee consults VAR, but it’s not enough for a penalty.
82 min: Barrow zips down the left and nearly gets past Fellaini in the United box. Nearly, but not quite. Goal kick.
81 min: Barrow slips Richards into space down the left. Richards crosses long. Meite, coming in from the right at a tight angle, slams a wild shot deep into the stands from close range. He was offside anyway. But Reading, to their immense credit, haven’t given up.
80 min: Swift sends Aluko skittering down the right. Meite is free in acres in the middle, but Aluko can’t find the space to loop the ball across, and runs it out of play.
78 min: Good work by Rinomhota down the right, nipping past Jones with ease, the United defender charging out recklessly. But his cross is well cleared by Dalot with Reading forwards waiting to pounce.
77 min: To a chorus of pantomime boos, Chong is booked for a light but cynical clip on Richards.
76 min: Reading make their final change, swapping Harriott for Meite.
75 min: Reading press United back in their final third, Aluko, Barrow and Rinomhota stroking it around, probing hither and yon. But they can’t find the killer pass.
73 min: Reading are still on 61% possession for the match. They’re going out, but they’ve given a great account of themselves this afternoon, a performance that’s sure to give them a boost in their Championship relegation battle.
72 min: Barrow bowls down the left, then slips a pass inside for Aluko, who clips a first-time shot towards the bottom left from the edge of the box. Romero tips round for a corner. From the set piece, Yiadom’s shot hits McTominay on the shoulder. Reading want a penalty, but they’re never getting it. Another corner instead, which comes to nothing.
70 min: Aluko drives at United but the door is slammed shut. United break upfield, Lukaku slipping a ball wide right to Chong, who is fast but can’t get on the end of that. The Old Trafford faithful certainly are excited by the promise of Chong, a huge roar going up as he’s in hot pursuit.
68 min: Young hoicks a free kick into the Reading box from the left. Lukaku can’t get a header on target. Then another wave, as Rashford bursts into the area from the left, but he’s crowded out. Finally a third go, as Young dribbles in from the left and slips a ball inside for Fellaini, who tries to back-flick into the net from close range. No Lee Sharpe he.
66 min: Nothing going on, so BT Sport show footage of Sanchez sitting in Solskjaer’s seat in the dugout, and being told to move in short order.
64 min: Sanchez departs with a frown, as Rashford comes on in his stead.
63 min: Typical timing: Sanchez has pulled up, and has indicated that he needs to come off.
61 min: Reading make their second change, swapping McCleary for Barrow. Meanwhile United make a double substitution: Mata and Fred are replaced by Fellaini and the 19-year-old winger Tahith Chong.
59 min: McCleary makes good ground down the left with some ball-on-string entertainment. He flicks a pass down the channel to release Loader into the box, but the Reading forward has foolishly wandered offside. A needless mistake with United once again looking vulnerable in defence.
57 min: A bit of a lull. United don’t really need to move up the gears, so this is where we are.
55 min: Now it’s Reading’s turn to escape. A long ball down the United left. Lukaku cushions a header down for Sanchez, who can’t get a shot away. Yiadom should clear, but he allows Lukaku to barge him off the ball, to the left of goal. Lukaku sets up Mata, whose first-time swipe hits Moore.
53 min: Aluko jinks his way across the front of the United box, right to left. Then he suddenly checks and plays a cute straight pass to Harriott, who is free on the penalty spot! He has to score, but batters straight at Romero. United escape.
52 min: Dalot and Mata play a long-distance one-two down the right. Dalot dinks one into the centre but Lukaku is on the back foot. Mata tries a cross from the left but it’s too deep. The first signs of United flickering to life in this second half, though.
50 min: Kelly takes a shot from the best part of 40 yards. Full marks for ambition.
49 min: Darmian clatters into the back of Loader, who was in the process of turning him down the inside-left channel, 25 yards from goal. A free kick in a dangerous area. Swift takes, sending one over the wall and dipping towards the bottom right. Romero reads it well and snaffles the catch.
47 min: Harriott dribbles down the middle of the park and flicks a pass to his left for Loader. It doesn’t quite come off, but United were once again light at the back there.
46 min: McClearly and Loader work the ball down the right. The ball’s teed up for Swift, who blazes over from distance. Reading have obviously come out swinging, with nothing to lose. A fair chance, one way or the other, that this won’t end 2-0.
The second half is underway. United get the ball rolling again. Reading have made a change, with the injured Ilori replaced by the forward-thinking Aluko. Rinomhota moves to right back, with Yiadom moving into the centre of defence.
Half-time entertainment. This is delightful. Please don’t get too lost in nostalgic reverie, and remember to come back for the second half.
Reading have been excellent. But United have been clinical. The hosts have one foot in the fourth round.
Just as Reading were threatening to equalise, United break upfield. Sanchez threads a pass down the inside left to release Lukaku, who rounds Jaakkola on the outside and rolls home.
45 min +3: Harriott has a whack this time from his beat out on the right. It’s blocked. But then Yiadom spins Jones with the greatest of ease, down the inside right. He slams a shot towards the top right; it’s parried round the post for a corner that comes to nothing.
45 min +2: Swift has been Reading’s chief creative force, and here he sends a stunning crossfield pass to Harriott out on the right. Not for the first time, there’s a lot of space out there. Not for the first time, Harriott doesn’t do anything with the opportunity.
45 min: There will be five added minutes, a combination of the Ilori injury and the VAR exercise.
44 min: Swift robs Pereira, 35 yards out, and feeds Harriott down the right. Harriott opens his body and looks to pass the ball into the bottom right, but his shot is weak and easily snaffled by Romero.
43 min: Young hauls down Harriott in the middle of the park. For some reason the referee gives Sanchez a lecture instead. This half is petering out.
41 min: Yiadom bursts past Sanchez down the right. There’s not much in it, but the referee blows for a United free kick. Just as well for the hosts, because Yiadom was yomping into the area. Yiadom loses the place completely, throwing semaphore shapes in disgust. He suddenly remembers he’s on a booking and calms down quicksmart.
40 min: Space for McCleary down on the right. He hooks into the box for Loader, but Darmian and Jones crowd out the Reading striker.
37 min: Fred looks industrious and impressive. He sends Lukaku trotting into the Reading half with a quick forward thrust. Lukaku feeds Sanchez on his left. Sanchez dribbles into the box with great purpose, but he’s shepherded away from danger by Ilori, and Jaakkola then hacks away from danger while down on his knees.
35 min: United’s defence is all over the shop, offering up plenty of chances. But Reading aren’t taking them. Twice in the space of a minute, there’s oodles of room for Harriott, then Loader, down the inside-right channel. But both young Reading forwards hesitate when they should drive forward to trouble Romero.
34 min: Reading are still on 61% possession. But what’s possession nowadays? United seem happy to let them ping it around and play on the break.
33 min: Yiadom is quite correctly booked for a wild and late lunge on Fred. He took out the United midfielder’s standing leg with gusto. Clumsy more than anything else, but still.
32 min: Reading aren’t taking this lying down. Harriott has a whack from a position wide on the right. It’s not a million miles from the top-left corner.
30 min: A glorious chance missed at both ends! First Lukaku barrels his way down the middle. He should tear clear, but with Moore on his shoulder, lets the ball clank between his feet. Momentum gone. He finally digs it out for a shot, but Jaakkola parries well. Then Harriott is sent scampering into acres down the right. With United’s entire defence inexplicably AWOL, he slips a ball inside for Loader, who should shoot when one on one with Romero. But instead he tries to round the keeper on the right. Romero stands up well to block for a corner, which leads to nought.
28 min: Sanchez twists and shimmies in the Reading box, but can’t get a shot away because Richards is sticking to him like glue. Ilori, moving well again, sends a long clearance towards Harriott, who briefly threatens to race clear. But Darmian is across to cover well.
27 min: Young tears down the left and sends a low cross-cum-shot into the arms of Jaakkola. The goal has lit a fire under United. They’re playing with much more speed and purpose now.
25 min: Sanchez attempts to cross from the left. The ball clanks into Yiadom’s arm, just inside the box. United want another penalty kick, but they’re not getting one. Yiadom was standing right in front of Sanchez, and he had little chance of getting his arm out of the way. Also, on second viewing, he wasn’t in the box. We move on.
24 min: It took two minutes and five seconds, but that was the correct decision. A shame for Reading, though, who had otherwise started very well.
Mata slots the ball into the bottom right, Jaakkola given no chance!
22 min: And it’s a penalty to United, Mata having been barged over by Richards as he played the ball forward to Fred! Mata will get up and take it himself.
20 min: United score! But the flag goes up! Young hoicks the ball into the Reading area from the left. Fred hooks it down near the penalty spot. Mata plays the dropping ball back to Fred, who sweeps home. But Mata’s touch looks to have caught Fred offside. We’re going to VAR.
18 min: Reading respond very impressively. First Swift looks to have sent Loader clear down the middle with a defence splitter from inside his own half, but the Reading striker went too soon and the flag goes up for offside. Then a left-wing cross from Harriott finds its way to Yiadom, haring into the United area from the right. Yiadom is in acres - where’s Young? - and could take a touch before shooting. But he suffers a rush of blood to the head, and blooters a first-time effort wide and high. That goes down as a good chance spurned.
16 min: Finally, United spring into life. Fred, McTominay and Lukaku play it upfield at speed, some glorious one-touch passing. Sanchez picks up possession 25 yards out, drops a shoulder as he shifts the ball to his right, and sends a dipping screamer, intended for the top left, inches over the bar. So close!
15 min: Ilori’s back up, but padding around gingerly at the moment.
13 min: Ilori has come off second best in a 50-50 challenge for a high ball with Lukaku. He’s landed awkwardly on his hip from a height. On the Reading bench, erstwhile United defender John O’Shea wonders whether he’ll get a fairytale run-out at his alma mater, at the ripe age of 37.
11 min: Reading have enjoyed 62% of possession so far. United have looked a little sleepy so far, not long out of bed.
10 min: McTominay’s back up and about. Reading spend some time probing down the left. Swift then switches play to Harriott, who briefly threatens to turn Pereira down the inside-right channel. Pereira recovers well and United try to break upfield, but Sanchez’s attempt to release Lukaku is wayward.
8 min: United finally get a little rhythm going. Fred at the centre of some pretty triangles. Suddenly Sanchez attempts to turn Harriott down the inside left. He’s fouled, and it’s a chance to clip a free kick into a loaded box. Young wedges the set piece into the mixer. Jones wins a header. Moore wins another to clear. McTominay goes down having hurt his noggin. He’s down getting the magic sponge.
6 min: Loader and Swift try to one-two their way down the middle of the park. A couple of passes stick, the one intended to split United’s defence doesn’t. But full marks for ambition.
4 min: Reading continue to knock the ball around in a carefree style, albeit mainly in their own half. They’ve decided to try to enjoy themselves, by the looks of it, just as their manager suggested. United haven’t got going yet.
2 min: It’s not been all Reading, exactly, but the visitors have been pinging it around in a confident manner. Everyone’s had a touch. Perhaps they’ve been a little too confident, because for a second it looks as though Kelly is going to gift possession to a buzzing Fred on the edge of his own box. But he plays away from danger.
And we’re off! Reading get the ball rolling, and they’ll be kicking towards the Stretford End in this first half.
The teams are out! A fantastic atmosphere at Old Trafford, as the sound of the Stone Roses pings around the place. This is the one. It’s almost as though a huge weight was recently lifted. United are in their famous red, white and black, while Reading sport their traditional blue and white. We’ll be off in a minute. “After the Reading manager’s interview just now, it feels completely surreal to me to have someone named José talking about Manchester United with any kind of enthusiasm or interest.” Adam Kline-Schoder with today’s top zinger, ladies and gentlemen. He’s here all week. Try the pickled egg in a sausage and black pudding coating rolled in breadcrumbs.
Solskjaer speaks ... and smiles. He’s loving this life. “It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but it’s been fantastic. It’s great to be in a competition that you can win, it’s a trophy we can go for. Most of these players have started a game in the last four games anyway. Romelu and Alexis, it’s about time to start them. I give young Scott a chance, he’s played enough games. It should be an opportunity for everyone to put themselves in the frame for Tottenham. Changing so many players might be a risk, but we have a couple of injuries and some tired legs, so this is how it has to be. I’m going to enjoy it as long as I’m here. If you don’t enjoy working at Man United, you’re not gonna enjoy working in football! I’m not thinking about job prospects, but trophies. This is probably our biggest chance of a trophy. I have told the lads how nice it is to run out at Wembley for a final.”
For the record, the Reading gig is the well-travelled Gomes’ sixth job in the last two-and-a-half years. And his tenth in a 13-year managerial career. He makes Roy Hodgson look like Guy Roux. Altogether now: ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯ There’s a voice, keeps on callin’ me ... ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯
The new Reading manager Jose Manuel Gomes speaks! “It’s a big game, the football party of the English federation. It’s an honour to be part of this game. We must enjoy it, we must show to our supporters that we are able to play good football and get good results in the league. Today is a day to enjoy, and you never know what can happen. United are a strong team with fantastic players. We will try to play positive, offensive football. Why not? I cannot change this because we play against Manchester United, and we will try to give a good picture of what we can do.”
Corrections and clarifications dept. “Hi Scott,” begins Christian Palmer. “It’s not going to make any difference to today’s result, but Reading made it to the semis in 2015. Here’s your minute-by-minute report. Don’t worry, my memory is failing me too.” Oh dear. Thank you. Sorry. Yes, I am getting old. I remember when the Madejski was all fields.
Only two United players remain from the starting XI named for the win at Newcastle on Wednesday. Phil Jones and Juan Mata keep their places. Otherwise it’s all change, with Sergio Romero replacing David de Gea in goal, Matteo Darmian playing in the centre of defence, and the lesser-spotted Alexis Sanchez starting up front.
Reading make four changes to the team thrashed at home by Swansea last weekend. Liam Moore, Liam Kelly, Callum Harriott and Danny Loader replace Sone Aluko, Yakou Meite, Modou Barrow and - returning to his old stomping ground, the Old Trafford benches - John O’Shea.
Manchester United and Reading have history in the FA Cup. A long tradition stretches all the way back to 1912, when Billy Meredith and Sandy Turnbull starred in a 3-0 win for United at Old Trafford. A last-minute goal settled a three-game marathon in Reading’s favour in 1927; the Biscuitmen made it all the way to the semis
, the last time they got so far
. United beat Reading in successive seasons in 1937 and 1938. Colin Webster and Dennis Violett shone for the Busby Babes in a 4-1 rout in 1955.
In more modern times ... the United of Cantona and Giggs won 3-0 at Elm Park during their successful run of 1996; Gabriel Heinze, Louis Saha and a certain Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put them three up in six minutes (!) at the Madejski in 2007; Nani and Javier Hernandez were the heroes in 2013; Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford wrapped up a 4-0 win this time two years ago.
Club hope little-known manager José Gomes and promising youngsters can stave off relegation after a historically bad 2018
With 2019 merely hours old, trite platitudes and empty resolutions are all the rage. “New Year, New Me” and all that, but no team will be more desperate to usher in a new era than Reading, who, for a while, have wanted to see the back of the worst year – statistically – in the club’s history.
The Royals picked up a miserly 36 points (from 138), the lowest tally in the Football League over the past year. The numbers make grisly viewing, yet things may get worse before they get better.
• Brentford’s new west London ground will open in 2020 • London Irish have played at Reading’s stadium for 18 years
London Irish will play their home games at the new Brentford Community Stadium from 2020.
The Championship leaders have reached an agreement with Brentford Football Club to play at the west London stadium, which is currently under construction and will have a capacity of 17,250. It is due to open in 2020.
Osho and McIntyre latest to join the ever-growing list
They both joined the club at the age of eight. And last month, soon after their 20th birthdays, Tom McIntyre and Gabriel Osho were both handed their very first senior appearances for the Royals’ senior team, taking our number of Academy graduates to represent Reading up to 49.
Historical Transfer News and Team Gossip has been archived below:
Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:44:52 +0000: Ajax midfielder Clement joins Reading - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Reading | BBC Dutch attacking midfielder Pelle Clement joins Reading on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee from Ajax.
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 16:20:33 +0000: Peterborough sign Royals keeper Bond - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Reading | BBC League One side Peterborough sign goalkeeper Jonathan Bond on a six-month loan from Reading.
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 15:06:31 +0000: Shrewsbury Town sign Jules and Adams - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Reading | BBC Shrewsbury Town sign Reading defender Zak Jules for an undisclosed fee and Ebou Adams on loan from Norwich.
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 13:45:02 +0000: Lech Poznan loan for Reading's Rakels - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Reading | BBC Reading forward Deniss Rakels agrees a season-long loan deal with Lech Poznan in Poland.
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:47:53 +0000: Luton sign Reading full-back Stacey - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Reading | BBC League Two side Luton Town sign right-back Jack Stacey from Reading for undisclosed terms on a two-year deal.
Newly promoted Reading have been scouting out many possible additions to their squad for next season with manager Brian McDermott having a large number of possible targets he wishes to bring to the Madjeski for the season kick off in August. The Royals manager has stated he would like to reinforce in all departments for next season with a mixture of new and experienced players.
Reading have just offered a contract to up and coming high flying goal keeper Stuart Taylor after the player
enjoyed a successful trial spell at the club in recent weeks. The Royals have been looking for a long term replacement in the goal keeping department for some time and look set to make Taylor the man to do the job as long as the club and the player can agree personal terms before the season kicks off.
Goal keeper Mikkel Anderson looks like he will be heading in the other direction to Portsmouth this summer after the club decided they wished to sign Taylor to replace him and Pompey manager Appleton is extremely keen on the young goal keeper. The southern club have offered to take the player on loan for the season but Reading seem coy on this idea as they would much prefer to dispense with his services on a permanent deal but as of yet both clubs are unable to reach an agreement on the situation so the drama continues.
Young Watford starlet Adrian Mariappa is the first signing of the summer for the Royals as he has just arrived on a three year deal from the London club. The talented Jamaican international central defender is a great addition to the Royals squad and McDermott believes the player will offer them a new dimension in the heart of their defence for next season.
Another player who looks all set to arrive at the Madjeski this summer is Nottingham Forest full back Chris Gunter who has been a long term target of the club for some time. The Welsh international has been out of favour at Forest for the better part of last season and now is keen and excited to the prospect of life in the premier league and the deal looks all set to go through within the next couple of weeks as long as the player agrees personal terms and passes the clubs medical.
In recent weeks there has been growing speculation that the Royals have been enquiring about gaining the services of Jermain Defoe from Tottenham after the striker endured a bit part season last year for his home club. Defoes chances in the first team were extremely limited and now the striker may look elsewhere to ply his trade if talks with the club break down this summer which will leave the door right open for the Royals to bring the player to the Madjeski.