1. Roysten Drenthe is not the Messiah
He's not even a Naughty Boy - even if he was one at Everton. But over recent weeks various supporters have been clamouring for Drenthe to start, relying on a long-standing principle of football that the player who's not currently in the team is the answer to all the team's problems and will single-handedly transform and electrify them. Well, he started, and whilst he was OK I'm not sure he was a marked improvement on the other options, such as Gareth McCleary. Yes he's not been fit so it was unlikely he'd play to his full potential, but I think even when he does that won't meet the weight of expectations landed on his shoulders by some in recent weeks. PS - The appearance of him and Danny Williams in the same team shoots down some of the wilder conspiracies about the club's financial straits.
2. ALF doesn't figure in Adkins's plans
... except maybe as a way of raising some cash for transfers in January. Adam must be sitting there, wondering what he has to do to get a game, and despairing if he'll ever get to play while Billy Sharp is fit. With a total of just 78 minutes on the pitch in Reading's last seven matches, and seemingly now behind Nick Blackman in the striking pecking-order (if Saturday's substitutions were anything to go by) then there's got to be a great big question mark hanging over his future at the club. Sadly, I can't see him still being here at the end of January. Whether that comes down to his own desire to play or his value to Adkins's transfer-kitty - or a combination of both - remains to be seen.
3. Our play-off position is down to Alex McCarthy more than anyone else
This can't be said too often this season - and hopefully will continue being said right through to the end of the season and beyond. The one player who is responsible more than any other for Reading's league position is Alex McCarthy. Whilst the defence still looks shaky, the midfield ponderous and with goals at the other end hard to come by, the consistent excellence of McCarthy has saved more points for the team than any other player has gained for them - and Saturday was just another example of this. Because he's just so good he makes it look simply effortless, with world-class saves merely routine. If we had just a " very good" - rather than a "great" - ‘keeper between the posts I think Reading would currently be mired in mid-table mediocrity.
4. The team is too reliant on Danny Guthrie
What happens when you base your whole game plan around one player and that player gets injured - or, in this case - suspended? It means that your gameplan is shot to pieces, and I think this season Reading have been too reliant on Danny Guthrie as the player pulling the strings, dictating the play and distributing the ball from midfield. The tactic of "Give it to Danny" has been mildly successful, but the downside of it is that it absolves the other players of having to take on any responsibility for creativity themselves. As well as leaving us vulnerable when Guthrie has an off-day or is marked out of the game, when he isn't playing we find ourselves with even less creativity than normal and a midfield looking scared to do things with the ball themselves. On Saturday we did stick to the usual gameplan of "Give it to Danny" - but D Williams was markedly less-convincing in the midfield creator/distribution role than D Guthrie usually is. I fear for us if we lose Guthrie for a long time - for whatever reason - because his presence means the other players can get away with being less creative themselves.
5. Reading supporters are polarising into two camps
It's been increasingly clear over recent weeks, and especially so on Saturday, that Reading supporters are polarising into two groups with different mind-sets. On one hand we have a group who say "We're fifth in the table, we've won three out of the last four, how can anyone be moaning?" - let's call these the "results" camp. In the other corner, we have what we'll call the "performances" camp. For them the attitude is "Never mind the results,we're fluking them with performances that don't deserve them, and playing like this we're going to be found out soon." If the season carries on the way it has so far, I think the philosophical chasm - and the growing war of words on social media - between these two camps is only going to get wider. As for me, I'd have to say I'm definitely in the "performances" camp - I see a team that's getting results but not one that's getting convincing results, or even improving in any way, let alone actually evolving into a team that'd be capable of holding its own in the Premier League. And to those in the "results" camp who say "It's OK to win ugly", I'd agree, but only on the condition that occasionally you "win beautiful", and we sadly don't seem to have that in our locker - winning ugly is all we've got. Results might get you promoted, but what happens then? As we saw after as Brian McDermott's team strung a set of unlikely, often-ugly, wins together to gain promotion, the aftermath the following season can be painful. This core team, playing to this standard, in the Premier Leaguer doesn't bear thinking about.