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Hunty's Column: Goodbye Charles Watts

Our man in Ireland is back with his first column of 2017.

Harry Trump/Getty Images

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and new year!

Now back to reality for us all and much the same for Reading FC after their departure from the FA Cup. We really missed the leadership of Paul McShane. It was disappointing that we didn't get going until it was too late and do ourselves justice on the national stage.

As Japp Stam says they will all learn from it and we have bounced back on a number of occasions after a bad result, but it does highlight the need for strengthening the defence and attack. However, the performance of Liam Kelly was outstanding for a young man who wasn't overwhelmed by the occasion, as some of his more senior colleagues seemed to be and he always wanted the ball and tried to make things happen.

With Evans and Swift performing brightly the future is very promising. Yann works his socks off for the team but we need another option to ease his workload and give us that plan B.

Tyler Blackett did not look comfortable again at left back and we looked a little more organised when Obita came on. Joey van den Berg and Liam Moore also did not look at their best there as a partnership, but they are strong characters who will bounce back. As we all saw Ali Al-Habsi made an error, but he's been superb for us; try being a goalkeeper at any level before you criticise!

So unlike the last couple of seasons where the focus has been on great cup runs to the neglect of the league we can now focus on the promotion push. A few decent signings and we can cement a play off place at least.

In one of my first columns I likened this season to be like the Grand National. Well at halfway we are performing way above what most people expected, including me. We have the race leaders in our sight, will we catch them or will we be taken over by the advancing pack?

This transfer window and ownership issues will have a massive impact on the rest of the season, but if we can sign Tiago Ilori then that's a great start. Enjoy the rest of the race!

Goodbye Charles Watts

It's exciting times at Reading, but sadly the transfer window has already seen us lose one of the good guys to Arsenal.

Charles Watts the Reading FC journalist for Get Reading has left for an undisclosed fee. Like Jonny Fordham before him, he gave us a great insight to the goings on at the club, both good and bad over what has been an interesting but difficult few years.

His approachable manner, kindness and real passion for what was going on at our club, despite it not being his first love, felt like he gave the fans a real voice. He will be sorely missed.

You all may not have always agreed with his views, but I'm sure you'd join me in wishing him all the best for the future. His replacement will be stepping in to some big shoes!

Hope you, your families and the Royals family have a great 2017!! Urzzz!