A loss is never a nice experience, regardless of how well you play. There’s always some kind of annoyance or disappointment involved. However, the loss against Derby didn’t feel particularly painful. I was worried that I’m losing love for the game all for a split second.
Are there too many other things going on in my life to worry about whether we take home three points every week? Are my everyday stresses becoming more of a distraction on a match day than I realised?
Then I remembered all the crazy things I do with so many others to make sure I get to watch my beloved Royals play. I love them more than I ever have done. It’s just that we’re actually in a bloody good position. We’re overachieving massively; even the most die-hard and loyal of us Reading fans wouldn’t have thought being 5th in the league at this stage in the season was possible.
The improvement from the previous two seasons is just unimaginable to those who haven’t suffered the frustrating journey with us. The fact we’re now worrying about not making the Play Offs rather than dreading potential relegation shows just how far we’ve come.
Let’s take a look at some of the positives that came out of Saturday’s defeat at Derby:
We’re playing competitive football
How can anyone complain about that? Our formation looked properly organised on Saturday, and Tiago Ilori looked impressively comfortable in his first start for the Royals. Liam Kelly once again impressed in midfield and worked so hard to put in a cross for John Swift’s first half goal.
Yakou Meite looked like a real threat when he came off the bench and finally got his first senior goal. Chris Gunter put in some cracking tackles. We made Steve McClaren come down from his comfy seat to the dugout in the first half…
Liam Moore made a rare error which cost us a goal, but let’s be honest, we’re all human. If we can iron out these mistakes, staying in the play off positions right up until May really isn’t an unrealistic target.
We’re scoring goals
Okay, we conceded more than we scored on Saturday, but we still scored. I agree that we probably do need to get another striker in this transfer window, but there’s not actually a major issue with scoring goals. In our 26 games so far these season, we’ve actually only failed to score in 5 of them.
If we’re going to cause our own issues at the back, not even the best striker in the world is going to solve that. Like I’ve also said previously, Kermorgant brings so much more to the team than just goals; his strength in the air stands out for me, and Saturday wasn’t any different.
We’ll bounce back from this defeat
Although the result wasn’t the one we wanted against Derby, there was such an improvement on the quality of football from the QPR game. There’s a pride and passion in this team that has been significantly lacking in recent years. We have a group of players who want to play for each other; the body language on the pitch shows that. I have no doubts that they’ll learn, regroup and go again against Fulham on Tuesday.
Yes, it was disappointing that we lost, there’s no denying that. But it’s definitely not the end of the world and certainly not the end of our season. Three points clear of 7th with a game in hand with 20 games left to go. It’s shaping up to be an exciting final third of the season.