In all the time I've been following Reading, there have been few constants in terms of playing personnel. I came along just as the 2005/06 team was gradually being dismantled by Steve Coppell and then Brendan Rodgers, and last summer many of the side that won the Championship in 2011/12 were discarded.
And so the rogues gallery of those who have stayed through the years is now down to three; Alex Pearce whose home Championship debut for the club was one of my first games, Jem Karacan and Adam Federici. The Australian keeper seems to have been with the club since time began, or at least our first Premiership season, and through all those years he's been in my opinion one of the team's greatest assets.
While Federici has not always been an easy fans' favourite in the same way that Alex McCarthy seemed to become immediately, his consistency and years of valuable service, for me, mark him down as a truly great servant of the club. I'm not saying there weren't moments of utter misery, (at home against Stoke, at Wembley this year and several times in 2009/10), or that McCarthy wasn't a class act while he was number one, but I struggle to think of another player in the squad this year who has been here for as long and has produced as many consistently high performances as Federici.
It's no exaggeration to say that some of our defeats earlier this year would have been humiliations without him; Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest immediately spring to mind. Our better performances have also coincided with Feds hitting top form; the two games away at Derby County, both fixtures against Middlesbrough and at home to Sheffield Wednesday (possibly the only time I literally thought the ball was in the back of the net before he seemed to scoop it back out).
Flying Fedders to the rescue
Going back further, he was in extremely good form in our Championship winning year of 2012, when in some of the key fixtures at the end of the season, he produced several outstanding saves as well as impressively marshalling a defence that seemed impregnable that season.
Amongst the criticisms that get thrown at him, two definitely seem to repeat themselves. Firstly, the oft-repeated suggestion that he doesn't command his box enough. Well, while I can possibly think of a couple of occasions this season when hesitancy to come for set pieces has cost us goals (Huddersfield and Wolves away, for example), whenever I think of Federici in the air I honestly can't remember too many clangers. I feel that in this respect Feds has been somewhat unfortunate to be judged alongside Alex McCarthy, who as possibly the best young keeper in the country two/three years ago was exceptional at commanding his area.
The other big criticism is that he commits too many howlers, the sort of mistake that everybody remembers and apparently costs Reading matches. Well, I'd like to suggest that the number of terrible blunders Feds has made this season can be counted on the fingers of one hand, while the number of similar mistakes made by individual members of the defence between October and December (that would be you, Chris Gunter and Pearce), surely averaged that many in just one game. At Birmingham there were pretty much six in one game!
So there you have it. A brilliant shot-stopper who had fantastic distribution and played a vital role (whenever he was selected) in the team's successes - I think we'll miss Feds desperately at some points next year. His years of loyal service are over, good luck in the Premier League Adam!
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