Hello again everyone!
I'll start this week's column by taking the time to appreciate the new togetherness and spirit of this current Reading side. For the team to defend a lead at Barnsley after the red mist descended for Garath McCleary shows the fight in this team. It's still a work in progress so patience is needed but right now I'm loving the togetherness.
One other thing that struck me though was John Swift's ability.
I might be prejudiced by the fact the hair is the same (thankfully not the waistline!) but I think he's our new Darren Caskey. His goal on Saturday really brought home the comparisons and while don't get me wrong, we've had players like Oliver Norwood who could hit the ball and was a decent player, Swift, like Caskey, does things his own was and doesn't rely on set pieces alone.
The similarities between the two continue with how they came to Reading. Both players were developed through proper footballing teams at Tottenham & Chelsea respectively, giving them a solid foundation to build on.
Caskey arrived in the late 90's as a man with a reputation as being a 'proper footballer' just as Swift has done 20 years later. Likewise both have that unique ability to play football at a high level and create something out of nothing.
Again we've had many talented midfielders since Darren left, with dynamic partnerships such as James Harper & Steve Sidwell, the magnificent Gylfi Sigurdsson and others but something about Swift, like Caskey, stands out.
Caskey had the misfortune of being part of a Reading team on the slide but it's in years like that, that you really need someone to stand up and make an impact and the former Spurs man did just that. In the 1999/2000 season he scored 23 goals from the midfield to help keep the side up, and give Alan Pardew something to build on.
The following season wasn't nearly as prolific but Pardew's decision to drop him to the bench for the Play-Off final with Walsall still ranks with me as one of the worst decisions he made at Reading.
He wasn't just a goalscorer either, with his trademark squeaky voice, his passing was sublime even if lesser mortals couldn't understand what he meant. It took Ian Harte to come along 12 years later to find a dead ball specialist with a similar ability.
He fell out of favour with the club after the play-off final defeat and after a short stints with Notts County & Rushden & Diamonds he was out of the Football League by the age of 32.
To me, Darren Caskey was one of the best footballers I've ever seen at Reading and I think Swift will follow In the same footsteps. I really think he'll play for the senior England side one day, so sit back and enjoy watching him as players like that don't come along very often.