Before each game we’ll try to get the view from a fan of the opposition and Saturday we play our final league game of the season at the Madejski against Derby.
This week, The Tilehurst End's very own Derby fan Pete Odgers gives us his thoughts on his team!
How would you describe your season?
In a word........ disappointing. After losing our top scorer and POTY from last season (Rob Hulse) just before the transfer window shut at the start of the season - the writing was on the wall that this would be a long, hard season. But thanks to some decent loan signings, and the form of Kris Commons, and Alberto Bueno etc, a bright start ensued and all the hatred towards our board was forgotten. However with such a small squad, filled with mainly young inexperienced players, our form dipped, and the young players confidence slowly ebbed away. To make matters worse, our then top goal scorer - Kris Commons- was also sold in January, with no permanent replacement being added. Cue protests against the board. A couple of adequate loan signings have seen us crawl over the finish line, and just about keep our head above water. But what at one stage looked to be a fine season of free-flowing football with a young, bright and tightly knitted together squad, has turned into a small squad of players deemed by many 'not good enough for the Championship' and lacking in confidence. Overall not a great season.
Nigel Clough has been in the job for over two years now, are the fans happy with him to this point and is he the man to take you forward?
That's the question which separates many Derby fans. The majority, just about are still backing him, but next season - particularly how we start it will be crucial. My opinion is that he has the right ideas about taking the club forward, eg signing bright young players from the lower leagues on sustainable wages, and trying to play football on the ground like his father's teams did. But I feel he has been a little naive in allowing our two best championship players to leave and not replacing them. Most people have blamed the board for lack of funds, but not once has Clough slated the board, and he has always backed their decisions, suggesting he also agreed with these ideas that crippled our squad this year.
What are your expectations for next year?
The chairman has said you can get a refund on your season ticket if you are not happy with the squad at the end of the summer, saying they are going to spend money to enable us to be in the play offs next year. I will believe it when I see it. For me it totally depends who we sign, but either way the squad needs a lot of new blood pumped into it, and when a lot of changes are made at once, trouble usually follows. I think a slightly higher mid table finish will be most likely.
Robbie Savage is playing his last game in professional football, what will be your enduring memories of his time in a Derby shirt?
Someone who tried their hardest for the club, but ultimately was in the twilight of his career.
Which Derby players should Reading fans be worried about?
Jamie Ward has been a handful for most opposition since he signed on loan from Sheff Utd. Beuno can also pick pass but might not be selected and look out for our attacking right back and player of the year John Brayford....many think he could become a future England international.
No one player in particular, you seem like a side who plays well as a team. But Long has been banging the goals in, and McAnuff can always frighten defenses on his day.
How many do you think will make the trip on Saturday?
Probably about 1000, Derby fans go in fancy dress to the last away game of the season so there is usually a bit of a party atmosphere, even though there is nothing to play for.
We are on a 3 match losing run at the moment, although have been a touch unlucky in all of those games. I'd go for an optimistic and entertaining 2-2 draw.
Thanks again to the Pete, who'll be writing for us over the summer and beyond and we'll have a full match preview up before Saturday's game here on The Tilehurst End.