So after fixing a couple of bumps on the road with the win at Blackburn on the previous outing, the Royals had a Christmas luxury of nine days off before facing a troubled Norwich City side at the Mad Stad.
Now, Norwich came into this game on a dreadful run of form, and given the last few seasons, they were results that would generally meant that a trip to Reading is a win to break that run (Villa, anyone?). However, this season's version of Reading has a little bit about it and managed to see off a poor Canaries side, without actually getting into a high gear. One thing that is slightly alarming about Jaap Stam's side is that penalties – we are poor at. Rebounds off penalties... No one better. It seems that the players are expecting the miss and to see three Reading players all chasing for the rebound was interesting.
Looking at the Norwich timeline, then there is probably only one topic on this game's Alternative View. This being how has Alex Neil still got a job? (Was there actually a football game?). Since this column has been going I have never seen such complete want for a manager to get sacked. Normally you get 15-20% or so of the tweets arguing a case for him to stay. I struggled to find one.
So without anything further, please find the Alex Neil appreciation society at its best.
Pretty sure which what the fans want
I'd say that's fairly conclusive #ncfc pic.twitter.com/lzPOVgfsIS— Luke Anderton (@AngryAnderton) December 26, 2016
#Readingfc. Shows how far we have sunk when such on ordinary side can beat us 3 1! That in itself is enough to get the sack! #ncfc— Michael Ward (@mjtward19) December 26, 2016
The #ncfc form is 24th out of 24 in the championship over 10 games....that's below football giants like Rotherham...#neilout— Matt Hudson (@mattyhudson90) December 26, 2016
Name the Xmas film anyone..
Carrow Road this evening. #NCFC #Championship pic.twitter.com/r2RjesJVco— Chris (@PigginC) December 26, 2016
We really do all hate Leeds
A Leeds fan is texting me screen shots of the league table, gloating and giving it large. A LEEDS FAN! That’s how far we have sunk. #ncfc— Matthew McGregor (@mcgregormt) December 26, 2016
One way of solving a defensive issue, harsh but fair....
My thoughts on Norwich City right now. #ncfchttps://t.co/qhuLvmWQ8i— Edward Jacobs (@Edward_Jacobs_) December 26, 2016
Now you really are clutching at straws
Dear Red Bull owner,— Markus (@Markooskoos) December 26, 2016
Please buy our club, you can call us Red Bull Norwich and do what you want. You're our last hope.
At the Madjeski. #awayfansmatter #ncfc pic.twitter.com/pOj2H4rCnm— Sharon Bowles (@sharonmbowles) December 26, 2016
So given that the Canaries fans pretty much aren't the happiest campers around, how did the media report the Royals win?
I got really excited this week, when I saw links for the Independent, Daily Mail and the Mirror all with coverage for the Reading game – right up until I read them and realised they were all the same report! Anyway it’s a fairly good round up and we headline so probably best to make the most of it!
Away from the nationals and the BBC have an interesting statement – Norwich couldn’t keep up the pressure, this from 15 points behind...
Over at SkySports and they have the usual video this week at just over two minutes and to be fair all the goals are cracking ones. Sky also point out a penalty record – 10 penalties, five misses but four follow up rebounds.
Our overseas players are also starting to gain interest with their home countries, this week’s entrants are the Jamaica WI Gleaner who run an interview with GMac about the game and making the Mad Stad a fortress and also the Americans Abroad Column on SBI who Danny Williams is one of two overseas Americans who actually had a good week.
Flicking back to the local media outlets and the Pink’un have a piece about the Dorrens injury, blaming McShane (tell you what, get 10 yards away then won’t have blocked it!) and the Eastern Daily Press (in an article by the same person!) actually give us a fairly good write up calling us 'promotion hopefuls' which is more than Stam will admit to!
Charles over at GetReading has his usual video report and I do tend to agree with him that when Norwich scored, it did look kind of dodgy, however the sending off and the penalty changed all that. He also makes a good point that once we had the lead and with the man advantage, we did hit cruise control.
One more game of 2016 and bogey team Fulham visit the Mad Stad, we are due payback with them and hopefully we will see out 2016 with another three points and maybe even a potential play-off march.
We really need to get the boys practicing spot-kicks, as yes it’s nice to get the rebound, but that’s not always the best way to score a penalty! With players coming back and others nearby, and with the transfer window opening up in a few days – me thinks January could be an interesting month and one which will confirm our ambitions this season!