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OPINION: Tinpot? Berkshirelona? Jaap Stam’s Barmy Army? It's Time To Back The Boys

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As Reading gets closer to securing a play-off place, we’ve got to embrace our identity and band together for the run-in.

Madejski Stadium

Our latest guest writer Christian Frank lends his thoughts to TTE - If you want to get involved, why not drop us an email to thetilehurstend@gmail.com?

We’re inching closer and closer to securing a play-off spot, and Saturday saw Reading playing some of our best football all season. Keep this quality up and we could be real contenders: I’ll take back all I’ve said about the club being too early in its Dutch revolution to genuinely challenge for promotion.

But the most surprising thing on Saturday wasn’t Reading’s exciting football. Last month we were questioning why there seemed little buzz around Reading’s promotion push, but April 1st saw the Reading fans matching the vocal Leeds support for large swathes of the game.

I can’t think of experiencing an atmosphere like that at the Madejski stadium in a long time. Dare I say it: the buzz is back.

I’m not necessarily expecting that kind of atmosphere against Rotherham and Wigan. What I would like is to rekindle that atmosphere in the next game we play against a play-off rival, presumably this season in a semi-final!

The key to the weekend was that bit of animosity which had brewed between the two clubs, the war of words which had erupted between the Royals and United.

Yann Kermorgant and Jaap Stam might not stoke the flames as openly before our next big match. What we need to do as fans is embrace our club identity. Our growing rivalry with Leeds this season seems to be based on our “tinpot” status: they can’t bear to see a team lacking “history” beating them.

After Saturday a lot of grumbling has continued in Yorkshire. I’ve enjoyed reading Leeds fans bemoaning how “lately we cop it in the neck from the likes of Bradford, Barnsley, Millwall and so on. And now Reading. Saucy little gits of clubs, all, that revel in the golden chance to show disrespect to their betters. It’s distasteful, but we’ve just had to grimace and bear it.”

Leeds fans rally together around their club’s fading history, and we need to do the opposite. We are lucky to be living in the decades of the club’s best success to date: we should revel in it.

To use an Ian Holloway-esque analogy: Leeds are that creepy old guy hanging around in the Purple Turtle, thinking they can still pull attractive young women. Reading are younger, better looking, and can do Jägerbombs without flinching. It’s our time to shine.

Anyway, that’s how history works. Leeds hardly had much to brag about before Don Revie’s revolution: Reading can be proud of how Jaap Stam is setting about with his own revolution here and now.

But how do we get psyched up for the rest of our play-off rivals? Let’s be honest, most Reading fans will have learned to dread the play-offs over the years. Here’s a list of the main contenders for the other play-off places, and why we should relish facing them:

Huddersfield

The low down:

The surprise package as the Wagner Revolution took place this season: like Reading they have turned last season’s bottom-half finish into a push for promotion this year. The 1-0 defeat against Burton seems to have extinguished Huddersfield hopes of automatic promotion, so they are the dangerous also-rans in the automatic promotion hunt, a team which lost at the Madejski but triumphed on their home turf against the Royals.

Why we should face them:

As Reading fans know too well from the 2008/09 season, falling away from automatic promotion late on is hard to take, and doesn’t set a team up well for the play-offs. In fact, their recent form has led to such comments on their fans’ forum as: “Play offs are by no means guaranteed and right now we have gone a bit rubbish.” Still, the more confident Terriers fans want us as their semi-final opponents, saying that the Royals are the weakest of the lot – that sounds like a challenge to me!

Leeds

The low down:

Reading’s most recent opponents have finally found stability this season under Garry Monk, a combative team free from the off-field distractions of Massimo Cellino which have plagued Leeds in recent years. They beat Reading at Elland Road 2-0, leading to those chants of ‘boring, boring Reading’.

Why we should face them:

While combative at a packed Elland Road, backed by vocal supporters, Leeds looked shaky at the weekend. Kermorgant seems right to suggest that a lot rests on Chris Wood’s shoulders, and Moore seemed happy to carry a lump of Wood around in his pocket all match at the Madejski. The attitude and play from Reading on Saturday was electric, and the likes of Kermorgant and Stam will still be pumped up. Revenge may also be on the cards for the Liam Cooper stamp: I’d watch out for some feisty tackles from both teams.

Fulham

The low down:

The team with so much promise who are making a strong charge to be the form team in the play-offs. They destroyed a Liam Moore-less Reading at Craven Cottage on my birthday, and then thought they had a chance to beat us until the return fixture was fogged off. We beat them at home 1-0 in the rearranged fixture.

Why we should face them:

Simple: we want to prove that their 5-0 win was nothing more than a blip in the Stam masterplan coming together. Fulham fans still think that we did not deserve our 1-0 win in the battle of the saved penalties, and their push into the play-offs seems well-timed: they could be the team to beat.

Sheffield Wednesday

The low down:

The other Thai-owned team in the league, I expected Wednesday to easily secure a play-off spot this season. Reading have done the double over Wednesday this season, most recently winning 0-2 at Hillsborough as the Owls’ form has slumped.

Why we should face them:

Another Yorkshire-based team hanging on to former glories, dismissing us as a tinpot club. We have already beaten them twice, and should not fear them home or away.

*****

What do you think of these assessments? Do you think we should be concerned by any other teams pushing for the play-offs? Who would you like to face in the play-offs? Do you agree that a siege mentality helped Reading against Leeds on April 1st? Feel free to comment bellow!