Hi, it’s me, Olly. The Tilehurst End’s youngest assistant editor and Ref-Watch connoisseur. You might also remember that last summer, I had a go at some fans about their negative attitudes towards the club’s transfer activity just days into the window. So I’m back (back again), once again taking on the might that is Reading’s pessimistic fan base.
This article has been fuelled by the reactions of many fans following the club’s 2-1 loss to Ipswich on Tuesday night. After every defeat the Reading Twittersphere seems to explode into negativity, but the defeat at Portman Road provoked more of a response than usual. There were relegation fears, calls for Brian McDermott to be sacked and a general doom and gloom attitude. Not for a second am I making general assumptions that all Royals fans feel this way, but the group that do need to take a long, hard look at themselves. Let’s assess these points one by one.
I myself admit that the league season is pretty much over. There’s too much of a gap between ourselves and the top six for us to have a chance of promotion this campaign. But this does not mean I’m worried about the threat of relegation. I’m not even looking over my shoulder cautiously. There’s ten points between us and the drop zone, only three points less than the size of the gap between us and the play-offs. We’re destined for a mid-table finish, as we just aren’t consistent enough. I’d like to think that we’ll win more than we lose in the rest of the campaign, as there’s certainly a huge amount of potential quality in the side. The problem is that Reading is a step down or a stepping stone for many of the players, but with talent such as Matej Vydra, there’s always the possibility that something applaudable will happen.
At this stage last season, Reading were also in 16th as we are now, seven points above the bottom three. Despite going on a run of nine league games without a win, we still survived comfortably – by nine points in fact. We’re better than we were last season, so there’s no chance we are going down. More importantly, there’s a lot more than three teams worse than us this in the Championship.
This is the most ridiculous of all the comments made by Reading fans on Tuesday night. The man has been in charge for just over a month! His appointment may not have been well received by everyone, but what’s the point in complaining when the club aren’t going to act on your opinion? Get behind the team and the manager! All of McDermott’s league games since his return have all been draws or decided by just the one goal, showing that we’re dealing with fine margins here. Personally, I can see an improvement from the final few months of Steve Clarke’s tenure, and it’s clear that McDermott is trying to work towards making a real go of it next season. Many football fans are impatient these days, as are owners, but it took Steve Coppell just under three years to earn promotion and McDermott needed two years. We need to stick with a manager, give him time to build a project and we will get rewards.
Looking at the last five teams to win the Championship, here’s how long their managers had been in charge at the time of promotion.
2015 Bournemouth – Eddie Howe – 2 years & 7 months
2014 Leicester City – Nigel Pearson – 2 years & 6 months
2013 Cardiff City – Malky Mackay – 1 year & 11 months
2012 Reading – Brian McDermott – 2 years & 5 months
2011 QPR – Neil Warnock – 1 year & 2 months
We can’t expect Brian McDermott to take us up straight away. Be patient. Give. Him. Time.
It’s All Doom And Gloom
I don’t think many fans realise how lucky they are to support Reading. Sure, we don’t achieve the successes of European giants, but since the turn of the century this club has seen the best years in its history. We’ve been promoted to the Premier League as champions twice, nearly qualified for continental competition, reached two FA Cup quarter-finals, one semi-final and reached the play-off final. That’s a better record than most clubs at this level can boast.
I look at clubs such as Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic, both currently occupying positions in the Championship relegation zone, and think how lucky we are not to be like that with desperate ownership troubles and consistently poor performances on the pitch. Then there’s clubs like Oldham Athletic who have spent 19 consecutive seasons in League One, with just two play-off appearances in that time. Or Rochdale, who have spent 38 out of the last 42 campaigns in League Two. It’s fans of those clubs who are long-suffering, not us.
We have to come to terms with the fact that the Thai owners aren’t going to splash £10 million+ on a new striker, but that doesn’t mean they lack ambition. After the Zingarevich era, stability is needed and from the moment they came in, the Thais said they would return to how Sir John ran the club. That didn’t turn out too bad did it?
It might not be just the Reading fan base, but if supporters got behind the team and manager more, it might transfer onto the pitch and produce the results that social media sulkers are crying out for.
Do you agree with Olly? How optimistic are you about the club's future? Let us know in the comments.