Over the years being a Reading FC supporter abroad hasn't always been easy. I remember a lot of ups and downs from wild promotion parties to playoff heart break and relegation battles. You can never say we've had a dull season but from one extreme to another it does put you through the mill. As always this season doesn't disappoint that fact.
Supporting from Malta you miss that live match day feeling of actually being at the ground. From days waiting for Livescore to update what's happening to listening to Tim Dellor explaining action by action, don't get me wrong we enjoy it- but it feels like your watching from someone else's eyes and taking their opinions for granted. Now days with the popularity of Championship football increasing (and a Ubet account) we can now enjoy watching the Royals play week in week out and have your own opinion.
I must admit, after the international break we were looking forward to a bit of proper football especially against a mid-table Cardiff team. With a lot of history between the two sides and especially with Ex-Royals Le Fondre / Morrison being in the mix and the return of McCleary, it promised to be a good high tempo game.
Putting the injury list aside on paper we had a good team, although maybe not a strong bench. We missed Mackie who's been on top form lately but the inclusion of Williams alongside Norwood should have given Cardiff abit more problems and stretch the play (true, the American International just came back from a lengthy injury spell, which hopefully will improve over the next couple of weeks).
During the game, we had the majority of possession and Cardiff offered nothing special, yet we still lose 2-1. An unfortunate own goal and an ill-made decision gave the Welsh side all three points. As any Royal fan knows that has been the theme this season. Giving away too many goals and not making the right choices. Is it the manager's fault who chooses which team to play? The formation? The willingness and dedication of the players? I don't think so. Adkins has a good track record and has ‘been here and done that' in getting teams promoted (I'm still an Adkins:IN fan). We do actually have a good side with players who, on top of their game can set the league alight. So why do we sit 15th place in the league just 3 points from the Relegation line?
Despite last Friday night being quite a dull game there were small glimpses of what the team can offer. There was a moment when Williams and Robson Kanu did a one-two in the centre circle which let the Welshman running down the middle of the park on his own.. His option where opened.. Cardiff's defence were on the back foot, Obita rushing down the flank.. the pass came in and the play just got wider and wider till the only thing Jordan could do was try his luck from a tight angle. The magic that got our hopes up just faded away. Some might say that confidence is at a low but I think that what the players, staff and fans forgot is the old fight and never say never attitude we used to give opponents. A couple of years ago losing 1 or 2 nil with just five minutes to go, I would still be hopeful to take all three points with a brilliant fight back. Nowadays, even just starting the second half all square, we can't give that something special to nick it. Where has the fight gone?
Loss of personnel, change in staff members and ownership problems alongside getting relegated from the premiership and a lot of pressure to bounce straight away might answer the above. The fans understandably want positive results but with every change comes a time of transition. This season reminds me of our Brendan Rodgers short-lived era. We had a team that included Rasiak and Church upfront and the magic we enjoyed for several years under Coppell seemed to disappear. We found ourselves dangerously close to a relegation scrap. Then a change in management happened and an unknown Brian McDermott, part and parcel with the club for so many years, reminded everyone what the Royals were about. Who can forget that special night in Anfield with a cup run that led us so close to Wembley? It gave us hope and believe which made us fly up the league table. A never say die attitude that won us promotion with the Premiership big boys.
You might be thinking, ok let's go back to our roots and get a Reading FC old boy to take the reins and make us remember and believe. Not so. They don't exist anymore.. The only thing left from that era is the fans: We remember. It hasn't always been easy but either way, if your an AdkinsIN or AdkinsOUT person it will take time for the Royals to remember who we were.
I miss the fight.. I will always follow the Royals be it 5 divisions lower.. Till then we just wait for that moment of magic to set our pulses going again, get the feel back in the club and let the Royals roar.
Don't forget that feeling.. a quote from one of my favourite book character .. "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light"
Paul A Schembri
Malta Reading FC STAR Trust