Okay, so before I start let me clear a few things up. I’m a very much ‘glass half full’ kind of girl. I’m a very positive person, and I like to try and find the good in every person or situation I encounter. I very much like McDermott and I’m happy with him in charge of the Royals. However, I don’t believe the goal from Ola John in injury time (however beautiful that strike was) which got us the win should hide the fact we were so uninspiring for the other 90 minutes. I’m not going to repeat what was written in the instant report (for the sake of the 440 of us that witnessed it first hand), so if you want to know the important details of the game, I suggest you head over there. Instead, I’m going to try and give a slight twist on your normal match reports. Bear with me and I’ll see you at the end.
I have worked at the big London airport slightly south of the one that begins with H for three years now. My current role involves liaising with airlines to hit On Time Departure targets whilst improving passenger experience. For those of you that have never worked in aviation, this must sound like particularly dull job, but it’s far from it. ‘How is any of this related to Reading’s 1-0 win at Bolton?’ I hear you ask! Well, I believe our performance on Saturday can be compared to a budget airline. There are premium airlines operating out of said airport, which provide the customer with all the frills and luxuries you pay for; no charges for baggage, extra leg room, even free flight socks. Your flight is as comfortable as a flight can be, with mood lighting in the cabin and unlimited food and drink at no extra cost. It’s nice to be able to travel on one of these premium airlines, but sometimes this isn’t always possible. Maybe the route isn’t covered by the airline because you don’t want to fly to a city’s main airport, or the flight times don’t fit in with your schedule.
This is when the budget airline comes in. Okay, so you don’t have the fancy flight socks and you have to pay over the odds for a sandwich. The cabin isn’t ornately decorated and you feel like you’re sat in the lap of one of your fellow passengers, but the flight is at the right time and it’s going to the destination you need it to go to. In other words, it gets the job done. This is what Reading’s performance was today. It wasn’t pretty and at times it was horrendously frustrating, but we did what we needed to do to bring all three points back to Berkshire.
But what if you book what you believe is a ticket on a premium airline, but it turns out you’ve actually booked on said premium airline’s budget younger sibling? You’d be slightly disappointed if you were teased with all the drinks on the trolley, be asked what you fancy, have your drink served to you to then be told you have to pay a few hundred pennies for it. What I mean by this is that we had so much possession against Bolton, 75% possession in fact. We created half chances all game and got ourselves into decent positions. We hit the post, had a goal line clearance and six shots on target. We had all the ingredients for a premium airline, but we still just got the job done.
Whether you’re flying on a premium or a budget airline, it’s really frustrating when your flight gets cancelled. You arrive at the airport, eager to get away for your well earned break. You get to your gate room, you can see the aircraft out the window, everything’s ready until right at the last minute your excitement turns to despair when you’re told your flight has been cancelled due to ‘technical issues’. You end up being stuck for hours trying to sort out an alternative flight. This is how I would explain Matej Vydra’s penalty miss. Bolton go down to 10 men, everything is set up for Reading to take a deserved lead and hopefully kick start a decent performance.
Are you still with me? If so, congratulations, I hope you've enjoyed reading so far. I mentioned in my introduction that it can't be ignored how uninspiring the performance was. Okay yes we had plenty of chances and dominated possession, but the game was played so half heartedly. We never really got out of second gear. Don't get me wrong, I love a last minute winner, who doesn't? It's one of the best feelings being a football fan - if the game means something. I know a lot has been said regarding the fact there are a lot of loan players in the squad who may not play at their full potential, but only three actually played yesterday, and one of them came off the bench and scored the winner. I'm not sure a budget airline performance from a team can be based solely on three players.
These budget airline performances are all well and good if we still had something to play for. We're not heading for the play offs (even if it's still mathematically possible) but we're definitely safe too (even though that's not mathematically correct yet). Myself and 439 other Reading fans travelled a long way to Lancashire to see a budget airline performance which means nothing. Now our season is effectively over, is it too much to ask for some premium airline performances? We need something to get excited about after a particularly underwhelming season and I for one would love to see a strong end to what has been a somewhat disappointing campaign.