Apparently today is 'Blue Monday', supposedly the most miserable day of the year for us folks in the Northern Hemisphere. The theory goes that the poor weather, bills from Christmas and all round post-festive blues combine to make it a particularly gloomy day.
For Reading fans, the last 10-days or so have generally been fairly blue, with a Cup exit, home defeat to the fake hoops, takeover uncertainty, transfer delays, and worrying financial results.
Yet as Nigel Adkins once said, 'The positivity of being positive, is so positive' and so in the spirit of old Nige, here's five reasons why we Reading fans shouldn't be so blue today.
We're Fourth In The Championship
In 146 years, Reading have only finished fourth in the second tier or higher on eight occasions. Two of those seasons saw us win the title and one was spent finishing eighth in the Premier League, so fairly good times were had by all. Sure there were a couple of top flight relegations in there but as it stands we're on course for one of the most successful campaigns in our entire history.
90% of teams who were third on Christmas Day have gone on to at least make the play-offs and given the fact we won on Boxing Day and again on January 2nd, we're in such a good position that the bookies have us ODDS ON at 10/11 to finish in at least a top six spot, even after that QPR defeat.
Ask fans of Blackburn, Nottingham Forest, Swindon, Oxford, Aldershot whether they'd be happy in this position right now and you'd get pretty similar answers.
We're Ahead Of Schedule On The Pitch
In our pre-season polls here at The Tilehurst End, 76% of you were expecting to finish somewhere between 9th and 24th, so to sit fourth right now is exceeding expectations for the majority of fans. After finishes of 17th and 19th in the table over the past two seasons we're almost certainly going to finish higher than that, a feat which is worthy of celebration if nothing else.
Steve Coppell didn't win promotion in his first season, nor did Alan Pardew, Mark McGhee or Brian McDermott. Each of those men had to wait until at least their third season in charge to taste success and it didn't work out too badly for any of them in the long-run.
Jaap has already put a halt to what Steve Clarke described as a 'negative spiral' at the club and after four miserable league campaigns in succession, stopping the rot was the biggest goal. In that sense, it's already job done for Stam who needs just seven points in the remaining 21 games to beat the totals of the past two seasons.
It takes time to adapt to a new style of play, just ask Brendan Rodgers and Adkins himself but if you're given time and patience, the rewards can be immense as McGhee and Pardew found out.
Takeover Talks Are Still Ongoing
We're all pretty fed up of takeover talk. Predictably, the negotiations with a Chinese consortium have dragged on and even Stam is getting annoyed at the lack of progress. Yet good things come to those who wait and while the deal seems to have hit a stumbling block, there's no concrete evidence out there that says it won't still happen.
Last week's financials brought home just how dependent we are on the generosity and financial support from the Thais, who now hold more debt than than the club has assets. Yet to date they've continued to find ways to back the football club and Tiger's pre-season interactions with fans went a long way to assure supporters that he had genuine love for the club and wanted it to succeed. Whatever the business interests of the current owners, we have seen enough so far to suggest they do care about what happens to Reading and we just have to hope that even if this takeover bid falls apart, they'll continue to support it financially.
Even if this bid for the club collapses, there might still be another bidder out there willing to take on the club. There have been no suggestions we can't pay this season's debts and promotion could take care of many issues, even if no new investor is found.
The Academy Continues To Flourish
Liam Kelly has just been voted your Player of the Month, another success story to come out of Reading's Academy in recent seasons. The work of the late Eamonn Dolan and now Lee Heron is still paying dividends and with fellow graduates Tennai Watson, Jordan Obita, Jake Cooper, Dom Samuel and others all making contributions to a so far successful campaign, the hard work and dedication of those working in the Reading youth setup should be recognised.
Right now that success looks as if it'll continue. We're still a Category One Academy for at least two more years, the U23's just enjoyed a good year in the Checkatrade Trophy and we're fighting bravely in the top youth league in the country despite fielding lineups amongst the youngest in the division.
Even if cash does becomes tight, the club is doing its best to ensure it won't be reliant on having to pay big transfer fees to bring talent into the club, while providing a possible source of revenue down the line.
The Club Are Doing Their Best For The Fans
As The Inspector pointed out in his opinion piece over the weekend, those in charge at the club have done wonderful work trying to put fans back at the heart of what they do.
The club didn't have to offer fans free entry against Fulham, they didn't have to subsidise tickets to United, or run offers to brings friends to certain games for free, yet they did so despite knowing it would hurt revenue.
Beyond first team affairs, Reading also continue to invest their time and money into valuable community projects, support a growing women's team and now even a deaf team. These are things rarely mentioned but go to the core of what a football CLUB should be about.
Just listen to our interview, or read the highlights from an hour long interview with two very senior figures at the club to learn just how hard they're working to give fans a football team they can be proud of.
So while it might be 'Blue Monday', let's try and be positive this morning.
Tough times might be around the corner but equally we could be on the cusp of something very special. No doubt it'll be a bumpy ride, but if we wanted easy we'd just go support Real Madrid right?