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The Alternative View - Birmingham & Middlesbrough

Two games and two defeats, one a miserable performance and one – well, it got heated...

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After a pretty good home run it all came crashing down on Saturday with a pretty miserable performance by the Royals. Birmingham haven’t been setting the world alight recently and when you look at the stats from the game, you could be forgiven for thinking the scoreline was a typo.

Following that was the longest trip of the season to Middlesbrough, on a foggy Tuesday night. A first half that sounded dire, followed by a second half which was "lively" for more reasons that we would like to care about.

Looking through the twittersphere at both games and things become apparent. The Birmingham fans have an obsession with Villa, to which at one point given that many tweets about them I thought that the Blues played the Villans on Saturday. Finding any which referenced the game was pretty hard and a nearly all of them focussed on Villa getting relegated. So much for supporting your own team...

Then we have the Boro game, there has been a lot said so far about this, mostly from Reading fans concentrating on Williams v McShane (oh that’s a fight I would love to see!), a certain radio commentator and the two points of annoyance being Vydra and Piazon. However from the Boro side they concentrated pretty much all on the last second goal, ignoring the fracas and the fallout from that.

Birmingham Home

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The Birmingham fans must really have a complex with Villa, all the tweets where about them and the distinct lack of interest in the game is somewhat surprising, however here’s a selection of them.

Obsessions are not healthy….

I mean seriously?

The phrase "clutching at straws"

And back to reality

Media

So if you want to watch 3m12s of how not to finish whilst in promising positions, head over to Skysports who have the usual coverage of the game. Sky paint a damning picture of Reading's attempts at goal and throughout the whole highlight package there are TWO frames of Birmingham’s attacks.

Given that Birmingham are on the coat-tails of the playoffs then it’s a little surprising the low amount of coverage this game got. The BBC however comment that this is Birmingham’s first away win since January and quote McDermott that he "never saw this coming".

ESPN FC call us "poor" and that although we dominated the game in terms of possession, we didn’t actually have a shot on target till the 60th minute. Whereas Clubcall reckon we were "lacklustre".

Down at the local outlets, the Birmingham Mail have a mediocre report on the game, saying that Birmingham played ok in the first half, we were dreadful, our fans didn’t really care about the game after 75 seconds and the Blues fans were more interested in the Villa result. All in all - probably accurate!

GetReading are a little more to the point, calling the display abject, and their tweet of the day pretty much sums it up saying "zzzzzzzz". There's the usual round up and reports etc on the site.

Middlesbrough

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There has been more said on the Reading hashtag than the Boro one, however as you can expect there was some tense fans and the less said about the winning goal the better, it’s also worth remembering that there have been tension between the board and Karanka earlier in the season...

Pretty much says it all

We thought we had semi decent home form

Lost the dressing room eh……

Vydra’s miss

Can’t really blame them can you

£32, pointless game, midweek and an 8 hour jaunt each way…..

Fireworks…

We can but wish….

Yeah right, like he meant it…

Media

Well what can you say? After seemingly grabbing a precious away point – that would have confirmed the Royals place in the Championship next year, it was cruelly stolen in the last seconds of the game.

Understandably there is considerably more coverage that the Birmingham game. Starting with the nationals this time, we have the Guardian praising Al Habsi for having magnetic gloves, Reading were constantly let down by our last ball, and that the nerves were shredding for Boro. Over at the Daily Express they again mention Al Habsi’s heroics and that Boro were unable to build on their early lead. They also mention Vydra’s miss and that the home side were guilty of a few glaring misses.

The Daily Star say that Boro snatched a win, again with focus on Al Habsi’s saves and Vydra’s miss. They also comment on McDermott’s foul mood which played contrast to a happier Karanka.

The last of the nationals in the Mirror (full house this week) focus on the fact that a few weeks back Karanka was thinking about leaving Boro!

We are starting to get a theme here with the Hartlepool Mail, calling it a frustrating night for Boro, and Al Habsi kept thwarting Boro with a string of good saves, and guess what, yep they call it a glorious opportunity...

I do like the Yorkshire Post's review of the game, if only to throw in a dig to Jordan Speith’s meltdown on Sunday, saying that Boro showed him how to handle pressure! They also go on to say that Boro were sporadic in the second half and that Reading showed some slick and purposeful approach play.

Similarly the Northern Echo call Al Habsi an impenetrable barrier which Boro did well to overcome. (ok, no guessing who was Readings man of the match then!)

And now, your main event of the evening!

HITC focus on the square up between McShane and Williams and the angry exchange between Tim Dellor and McDermott in the post-match interview. Following on from that SBI Soccer in the US totally focus on the incident, saying that Williams took exception to being "chewed out" by McShane, some interesting readers’ comments on that one.

Back to the broadcast companies and the BBC obviously focus on the post match interview between McDermott and Dellor calling it "tense" and also say the game was dramatic. Sky on the other hand call it a frustrating night for Boro, the Al Habsi show, and a lesson in how not to defend!

GetReading heap praise on Al Habsi, saying that the Omani was in superb form, Vydra's miss sums up his season and that it’s a cruel way to lose the game. They also have the feedback on Williams v McShane saying that the pair have both been disciplined.

Summary

Two bad games from the Royals, with lots of things to sort out before Saturday’s trip to Leeds you can pretty much bank on McDermott having a busy week leading up to it – team selection at Leeds will certainly be an interesting selection and you’re a brave person to try and guess it!

This season has been a disappointment and I think I speak for a lot of fans when the end of it can’t come quick enough.

I will be back after the Leeds game hopefully with a more upbeat column.