Reading have certainly over-achieved this season. If you'd asked fans last summer where they expected to see the team finish, I'm sure that most would have predicted mid-table, with some looking anxiously at the relegation zone. Despite that, Jaap Stam has worked wonders at the Madejski Stadium, putting the Royals firmly in the mix for the Playoffs come May.
Here's how the table currently stands:
TABLE: @htafcdotcom leapfrog @LUFC with the three points. pic.twitter.com/KgVSaLTPRW— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) February 5, 2017
Although we're close enough to Newcastle and Brighton to dream of a top two finish, the realistic aim is surely to cement a Playoff spot. But, as we learned from last season, promotion campaigns can quickly evaporate.
Perhaps with that in mind, Brian Tevreden tried to ease pressure on Jaap Stam and the team by telling Get Reading that a league finish outside the top six would be not be a "failure". But is that fair comment?
The situation has changed
Having gone through the Series of Unfortunate Events that were the spells of Nigel Adkins, Steve Clarke and Brian McDermott, Reading fans were understandably keen to pour cold water on promotion prospects this season. And why would this campaign be any different? A rookie manager, albeit a well-respected one, was set to take charge of an inexperienced squad complimented by a few experienced journeymen.
However, the last few months have shown us what this side really is capable of. Young additions have bedded in well, the whole squad has adapted well to Total Football, and Stam has injected a sense of belief and optimism that had been absent for years.
Taking that into consideration, expectations are now a lot higher than they were in the summer, and rightly so.
Plus, whether you look at the league table or not, are Reading really any worse than teams around them? David Wagner and Garry Monk have done fine jobs at Huddersfield Town and Leeds United respectively, but not to a better level than Stam.
Below them, Sheffield Wednesday remain a threat, whereas both Derby County and Norwich City look rejuvenated, at least for the time being.
To sum up
That all being said, finishing outside the top six would not only be a huge disappointment for Reading, but it would also be - in the context of what we've seen so far - a failure. Stam's team has proven itself to be capable of beating most sides in the division, and deserve to be in the mix for Wembley in May.
Sure, over the next few months, we could be shunted down into fourth, fifth or sixth, but anything worse than that would be Reading doing themselves an injustice.
What do you think? Would finishing outside the top six be a failure, are we still over-achieving, or is the truth somewhere in the middle?
Vote in our poll below, and then let us know your thoughts in the comments section or on Twitter @TheTilehurstEnd.