Preston boss Alex Neil expecting completely different test against Paul Clement's Reading
Preston boss Alex Neil thinks the change of manager by this weekend's opponents Reading has led to a big change in style already.
The Royals lost patience with Jaap Stam last month and appointed Paul Clement to the Madejski Stadium hotseat.
Clement’s two matches in charge have resulted in a win and a defeat – they beat QPR 1-0 on Good Friday and lost 3-0 at Aston Villa on Tuesday.
Neil was at Villa Park to see Reading reduced to 10 men in the first half by a red card for midfielder Dave Edwards.
Villa took full advantage to win the game at a canter with three second-half goals.
Assessing what he had seen, Neil said: “Reading have completely changed.
“I went to Villa Park in the week and they sat in their own half behind the ball.
“They gave possession to Villa but have pace on the flanks and were looking to counter through the flanks.
“Whereas Jaap Stam had them open and expansive, they tried to dominate the ball and dominate possession.
“In the last two games, Reading have had their lowest possession stats of the season.
“That is what I mean by them being completely the opposite to what they were.”
Neil will look to take the game to their hosts and would probably have done so anyway regardless of the managerial change in Berkshire.
But the game will certainly have a different feel to it than had it been played a few weeks ago.
Said Neil: “You either try and break them down and get the first goal, or you give them the ball, sit behind and hope they aren’t good enough to break us down.
“I’m not sure they want the ball so you might end up with a stalemate where both sides are sat in their own half!”
Reading’s hangover from missing out on promotion in the play-offs has been huge.
They were penalty kicks away from the Premier League, losing to Huddersfield in a shoot-out after the dullest of 120 minutes of play.
A run of one league win in 19 games saw the end of Stam, the Royals without a win in nine when the Dutchman was sacked in the international break.
Clement arrived within a few days of Stam’s departure, the Reading board impressed by his coaching CV.
In both games he has been in charge of, Clement has seen Reading finish the game with 10 men.
Edwards’ early bath was for two bookings inside half-an-hour, while substitute Yann Kermorgant saw red against QPR.
“It’s unusual because at my previous two clubs, I never had a situation where I’ve been down to 10 men, “ said Clement.
“Here I’ve had it in two consecutive games.
“It’s very important that we move on very quickly.
“There’s another game at home against Preston. It’s a big game that we really have to try and win.”
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson is the Royals’ top scorer with 10 goals – seven of those in the league – while Moduo Barrow has netted nine times.