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The Importance Of Reading FC Bouncing Back Against Sheffield Wednesday

Bucks looks at why Reading need a result when the Owls come to Berkshire.

Peterborough United v Reading - npower Championship Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Just like last year, a heavy defeat at Fulham has derailed Reading's momentum. Under Steve Clarke it was the infamous 4-2, but this season a 5-0 thumping similarly dethroned Reading. Phrases like 'back to earth with a thud' and 'reality check' may be tired cliches, but they illustrate well how some, if not many, Reading fans felt.

However, I don't think either game against Fulham is the issue. In both cases, Reading were on a fine stretch of form that was bound to end sooner or later. What's really important is what comes next.

How Reading react to a surprise thumping is crucial, because it shows what the team really is made of. Here are two examples:

2015/16

I'll start with the previously mentioned case, when Reading were flying high under Steve Clarke. Going into that game at Fulham, Reading had won six of their last eight matches, including Burnley and Middlesbrough, who would be promoted that season.

However, after the trip to West London, the Royals would only win one of their next eight, a scrappy 2-1 against bottom club Bolton Wanderers, a few days after Steve Clarke's #FulhamGate.

Reading had registered back-to-back league wins only a week before the Fulham match, but it would take them until the end of February to do the same.

Put simply, Steve Clarke's Reading was so mentally weak that it couldn't cope with the shock 4-2 loss. Evidently, the fine form of the first few weeks of the season was built on very shaky foundations.

2011/12

Perhaps it's not that fair to call losing 3-1 at Peterborough a 'thumping', but in the context of an otherwise excellent Championship winning campaign, it arguably was.

Eight wins from the previous eight games, fuelled by the addition of Jason Roberts, shot the Royals up into contention for automatic promotion. And, despite the comfortable loss at London Road, Reading would go on to win their next six games, before a draw at home to Crystal Palace was enough to seal the title.

Looking at all of that in a broader context, the Peterborough defeat was simply a blip - Reading got past it so quickly and so confidently that it's easy to forget the game happened at all.

Here's what Brian McDermott said after the match:

"I can't fault the lads in the slightest. We have been on a terrific run to get ourselves into a great position and nothing has changed.

"We didn't have the best of nights but we'll certainly bounce back and I don't want to take anything away from Peterborough who played very well."

(Emphasis mine).

In other words, it was a bad day at the office, and it won't have an effect on the team going forwards.

And now to where we are today

Before last weekend's thumping at Fulham, Reading had enjoyed a fine run of form, winning five of their previous eight, shooting up to third in the process. But what comes next could be vital to where we finish this season.

With all of this in mind, the game against Sheffield Wednesday could be the biggest match of the season so far. How well Jaap Stam has brought this squad together and given it self belief will be tested when the sixth-placed team visits the Madejski.

If we win, it's an immediate bounce back from the low point of the campaign, but a loss might kick off a downwards spiral in form.