With the season now around a month old and the transfer window now shut, the time has come to bring back our View From The Town End segment, where we invite fans of our opossition to give their views here on The Tilehurst End.
This Saturday we invite Watford to the Madejski Stadium and Jason Bailey one of the hosts of Watford fans podcast 'From The Rookery End' was kind enough to share his thoughts below the jump.
How have you rated your start to the season?
Not as good as we would have liked. Some of the football has looked nice, but we've been short in the goal scoring dept and it's cost us points at Coventry and at home to Derby. Add to that the two goal lead we threw away in the last 15 minutes at Burnley and we could be a lot higher than our current 22nd place. But it's early days and we've continued to bolster the squad at the end of the transfer window, so the gap between an iffy start and an steady autumn is hopefully bridgeable in our case.
Early impressions of the Championship?
Much as expected. I think we all knew that the teams coming up were strong and suspected that Southampton & Brighton would make good starts. However Peterborough are performing better than I thought. Momentum counts for a lot in football. And no surprises at the other end of the table really. I always expected Donny and Cov to struggle. Watford fans have already seen two of the relegated teams at the Vic this season. West Ham looked very strong. The Hornets had themselves to blame for giving them an easy lead. And although they matched them in the first half, the Hammers took complete control in the second. I expect them to be involved in the end of season excitement. Brum were solid if unspectacular. They might have a bit more work to do if they want to bounce back at the first attempt and may find the Europa League a bit of a distraction to the real job in hand.
Has anything or anyone surprised you at all?
Palace have got off to a bit of a flyer and having seen Derby already this season, I can't believe they are where they are with performances like the smash & grab at the Vic - surely they can't get that lucky every week? Leicester & West Ham's home form. Let's put that down to the pressure of expectation. And Reading? It is difficult to rebound after a play off final defeat, but was still surprised by the Millwall & Barnsley results.
What are your best memories of Watford v Reading?
I do have a more left-field one to add to that. Hands up if you remember the Football League Group Cup (later renamed the Football League Trophy for all you stattos out there)? It was a bizarre tournament which seemed to have more teams from the bottom two divisions then the top. I'm not sure what the selection criteria was, but the 81-82 season saw Watford & Reading drawn together in the same group. I was of primary school age at the time and I don't remember why this game stands out in the memory, but I do recall it being sunny and that Watford handed out a spanking. That must be why it's stuck there when I can't remember what my missus asked me to do 10 minutes ago!!
And the worst memory?
Reading on top; corner; Eustace clears; hooked back in; shot!; off the bar, phew; what's the ref given?; Eh???!!!!! No, that would be too obvious wouldn't it. They say goals change games and THAT goal put so much fire in the Hornets' belly that they came out fighting and earned a 2-2 draw in a match that may have slipped away from them had they not felt the injustice of the boy Attwell.
I have another particular memory. In the first half of the 2002-03 season I made my first trip to the Madejski Stadium. The travelling fans were rewarded with a positive Watford performance, but lady luck certainly wasn't on our side. First Watford scored with a shot deflected in buy a Reading hand. But instead of allowing the goal to stand the referee decided to give the penalty. Of course, Cox's spot kick was saved by the outstanding Marcus Hahnemann. We had the ball in the back of the net late in the first half, again to be denied, this time by the linesman's flag. Watford continued to have the upper hand but lo and behold their failure to score (legally) was punished at the other end. Was it a worthy winning goal? Was it a worldy? Don't be silly. A deflected shot looped over Alec Chamberlain and the phrase "one of those days" could be heard amongst the yellow clad throng.
Who should Reading fans fear on Saturday?
Without doubt our man of the moment has to be Marvin Sordell. Whilst we've been struggling for fire-power and Sean Dyche has brought in a lot of competition for places in that area, it will be a question of who out of Weimann, Garner, Iwelumo, Deeney & Massey will be the one to partner Marvin on Saturday. His pace was clearly causing problems for Derby & West Ham in our first two home games. He opened his season's account with a simple but well placed goal in the Carling Cup at Bristol Rovers. And whilst his first half performance against Birmingham was not the greatest, he almost single handedly earned WFC a point with a low, powerful 20 yarder on 80 minutes and a shot that was too hot to handle for Boaz Myhill, leaving Martin Taylor to nod in the equaliser in injury time. And if that wasn't enough, his goal for England U21s on Tuesday night brought him to national attention. If you haven't seen it yet, look for it on TheFA.com or YouTube. I could describe it but my words couldn't do it justice.
As I alluded to earlier, Marvin has pace. He also has the ability to take defenders on, but it's his confidence that seems to be giving him the edge right now. There's no doubt in his mind what his job is - to score goals. And if he gets the slightest sniff, he will have a go. Sometimes to his detriment, as if he hesitates slightly he will still try and get a shot in that isn't there. But when he gets it right... I refer you to the evidence of the U21 goal. Please do take a look at it!
Who are Watford fans fearing?
Jobi McAnuff was at Watford during a difficult period in the club's recent history and got a lot of stick from some quarters, but he can still cause problems when he's on his game. Equally Jimmy Kebe is a player that has always caught my eye. But it's your new boy that worries me most. Adam Le Fondre could be the buy of the season at £350k. He's consistently banged them in over the past few seasons. And whilst that was done at a lower level, the goalposts are in the same place in the Championship and if he gets the service he could be a huge influence on Reading's season.
Unfortunately for my fellow Watford fans, I fear our unbeaten away record may be in danger. The combination of your new found fire power with our still slightly leaky defence means I'm looking at a 3-1 home win. Still, if I was any good at predicitions, I'd give up the day job and live off the bookies!
Thanks again to Jason and you can listen to him on the podcast here, or follow him on twitter @JasBailey