So, last week I wrote the report for Reading's 1-0 win over Bolton. I compared the Royals' performance to a budget airline; a get the job done kind of performance. After the win mid-week against Nottingham Forest, I was almost expecting another step in the direction of a premium airline performance. However, Royals fans were left hugely disappointed as Reading's performance was more comparable to a coach trip to a rainy British seaside resort.
If you want the important details of the game, head over and see Wimb's Initial Reaction. My one wish is to be able to write a match report where everything is wonderful, lovely and easy to comment on, but alas, that'll have to wait for another week. I think I said last week I'm very much a 'glass half full' kind of person, but it's really difficult to take any kind of positive from the performance at the Madejski on Saturday.
Okay, so let me set the scene. I'm sat writing this match report on my mid-morning tea break at said London Airport which doesn't begin with H, looking out of the window towards the runway on a beautifully clear Sunday morning. I've worked since 05:00 with some of my other colleagues, trying to ensure gates close on time to ensure on time departure. So far, so good and my team have lots of happy passengers, airlines and handling agents. Even though I'm tired and I'm thinking of my holiday I've got booked in 7 weeks' time, I've worked hard and I feel I've earned this cup of tea I have in front of me.
I'd like to think this whole morning for myself is a stark contrast to the game I witnessed yesterday. For one the weather was dismal, but not quite as dismal as the way the performance on the pitch. The players' half-hearted efforts indicated that they're probably already thinking ahead to their flights to faraway shores in the summer. The work rate was very low for a lot of the team and many Reading fans left the Madejski annoyed and unhappy. I'm kind of hoping the players weren't allowed a cup of tea as a punishment considering how cold it was yesterday (or something similar).
I've dealt with many different situations during my short time at the airport. One thing that always confuses me is when passengers book to travel somewhere entirely different to where they want to go to. I encountered a customer who was travelling to Santorini, thinking it was on mainland Italy. I guess they were in for a bit of a shock when they landed on a tiny island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. It could be forgiven if anyone thought we were playing another team from the second city on Saturday, as Birmingham fans spent 80 minutes of the match singing about their rivals Aston Villa's impending relegation from the Premier League. The fact that they lived to survive another day due to Norwich's defeat at Crystal Palace made that all the more awkward. However, we did play a decent Birmingham side who deserved the win and you can see why they have had an outside chance of seeking into the play offs for a lot of the season.
As I'm continuing to write, I'm overhearing a flight boarding in progress of one of the premium airlines. Some of the passengers they call forward to board first are members of their Diamond Club; designed for the elite, smart business traveller. Reading's diamond on Saturday was definitely anything but elite and smart. The midfield formation just looked weak from the offset, with sloppy passing and players being pushed off the ball too easily. I just don't believe we have the players in the squad at the moment be able to successfully use this formation because it is so narrow. I also don't think I was the only person at the game who thought the introductions of Matej Vydra, Garath McCleary and Ola John would liven the game up. However, uncharacteristically these substitutions failed to make a difference. The players just never really settled and at times the performance was chaotic.
After looking through some of the stats at full time, I'm not sure I can remember ever seeing such a bad display yet dominating possession and goal scoring opportunities. When does a team have 71% possession and double the amount of shots as the opposition (Reading had 14 shots and Birmingham had 7) and still come away with a frustrating but deserved 2-0 defeat? I know it's been a pretty underwhelming season on the whole, but the way the game was played against Birmingham was bordering on insulting. There was no desire, no passion and no team spirit and it's frustrating watching week in week out knowing the players are ready for the end of the season. I know there's nothing to play for, but come on, does that really excuse a performance like that? I said last week that I wanted some more premium airline performances, but I'd take six more budget airline performances to see us through to the end of the season if it means I don't have to watch another performance like that.