There is becoming a fundamental difference in how fans consume their team's football across the divisions, and Royals supporters are being left behind in the 'lesser' pile. I am talking about internet streaming. Internet streaming a Royals game is a total luxury—leaving us to merely listening to radio commentary, checking Twitter frenetically, or (God forbid) actually attending a game to get our fix. An issue in itself, perhaps not, but it shows the widening gap of how little attention the wider world and media are paying us.
This is nothing new of course, I can't vouch for pre-Madejski coverage, but a consistent measure of how big the game is at the Mad Stad was traditionally based on how many cameras were positioned behind our goal. There have never been many waiting for us to score, for sure.
Furthermore, this year in particular has seen Reading picked for a very low number of TV games, showing just one league match all season—with no more league games planned, or likely. Perhaps this is down to a lack of QPR encounters? Nevertheless, it even seems that the tele world is reluctant to show our game in the last eight of the FA Cup.
I get the sense that this media blackout, as evidenced by the likes of Michael Owen and the BBC, is going to continue for some time. But, that may do us no harm. Let's look at when we did have strong media coverage: five Sky games and a decent amount of self-inflicted media-based expectation watched us miss out on the play-offs in 2013/14. Seven live games—along with the media hype of a goal-scoring team—saw a 19th-placed relegation season in the Premier League the season previous. It's also worth mentioning how Reading struggle in individual games of high pressure—see any play-off final, last season's draw with Burnley, or indeed the 2008/09 final day season loss to Birmingham, as evidence for this.
The example of the season that ended the Coppell era is on where the expectation of promotion from ourselves and the media culminated in a play-off defeat to eventual winners Burnley. An honourable mention can go to the success many predicted ahead of Brendan Rodgers' doomed Berkshire stay.
These were all failures in perhaps our three most-hyped seasons in the club's recent history. It is a stark contrast to the outcome of the seasons in which very little was predicted of, or even spoken about, little old Reading.
The down-the-nose sneer of Lawro's predictions of weekly defeat ended up with us finishing eighth
Firstly, 2006/07: our first year in the Premier League was immediately met with the ominous 'relegation-favourites' tag. No one expected us to succeed, least of all the infamous down-the-nose sneer of expected weekly defeat that was Lawro's predictions. We finished eighth. That has the signs of a one-off, I grant you, but nothing compares to the lack of attention Brian McDermott's teams routinely got during the man-from-Slough's tenure. Three times the TV cameras came to town in the regular season as Reading went on to reach Wembley—many having written McDermott's side off following Glyfi Sigurdsson's departure.
The best case of all, however, is the 2011/12 campaign. After being beaten in the play-off final, settling quietly into mid-table was what many expected of Reading. In reality, that is how things began. And yet, as we have previous with, such a setting was perfect for the Royals to quietly pick up some wins, gather some momentum, and drive past all they saw before them and claim the title. That was a team without pressure, free of expectation; something that has become an important factor in much of Reading FC's success in recent years.
Of course, there is more to each of these stories, but this is a constant that can be identified throughout. Why is this relevant? Because we are at an all-time low for pressure and coverage in 2015. That, by history, is the perfect place to begin something special.