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OPINION: Reading FC Boo Boys Played Their Part Vs. Rotherham

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Did the angriest of fans help give the Royals a kick up the bum on Monday?

Aston Villa v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

What a strange day at the Madejski Stadium. Reading looked as though they might lose to the worst away team in Championship history, but eventually secured three points which took them to the brink of qualifying for the play-offs as Jaap Stam launched an attack on those fans who booed the team off at half-time.

Could you make it up? Hardly seems like a glorious march back to Premier League, does it?

However, now is not the time to be pessimistic or negative. It was an important afternoon, which all turned out right in the end. The players deserve credit for shaking off their first-half lethargy to secure a vital win and, I would argue - with all due respect to Stam - those fans played their part, too.

I think it's fair to say that Reading supporters are very happy with Stam, even if he doesn't seem to be happy with some of them. The Dutchman has brilliantly transformed the club from hoofball strugglers (bit harsh, maybe) into possession-based football stylists who should finish in the Championship's top six. Stam knows his football and he knows what he wants. We'll miss him when he's gone.

But I'm not sure that the ex-Manchester United defender understands fan behaviour or certain aspects of English football culture. Take earlier in the season at Elland Road, where Reading had 77 per cent possession, only one shot on target and finished up losing 2-0 to a Leeds side, which played a more traditional up-and-at'em game, featuring a lot of last ditch defence.

During the game the Leeds fans resorted to chanting 'Boring, Boring Reading', which they were perfectly entitled to shout in an attempt to wind-up the opposition players and supporters. That's what fans do and it had no significance. Didn't matter a jot. Yet Stam took the bait and even called the character of the Leeds fans into question. Gary Monk refused to get involved in the argument other than to say he was embarrassed for Stam and - loathe as I am to agree with a Leeds manager - he seemed to make a fair point.

Move on to last Saturday. Reading were dreadful in the first half , even allowing for the fact that it was their second game in three days. None of the fans were happy and some showed it by booing. Again, that's what fans do. The rsponse from Stam's men was a much-improved second half and a comeback that had the Madejski faithful cheering by the end.

Yet the manager was not pleased; "We need our fans when we are behind, maybe even more so when we are behind," said Stam. "They need to know that they must support their team and not boo them when they are 1-0 behind," he lectured, "The fans need to stick to their team and help them out. When you have played two games in three days, you need that extra man pushing you forward."

Exactly. And, I would argue, that's what the boo boys did. They voiced their frustration, let the team know that they needed to buck their ideas up and got the response they wanted. They booed because they cared.

What would have been the alternative? The team would have left the field at half-time to muted applause or, more likely, stunned silence. It's very unlikely that anyone could have expected a rousing ovation after that display. And even if it had occurred wouldn't it have sent out the wrong message? ( i.e that everything's OK if you just keep playing like that).

It all comes back to the carrot and stick principle. Sometimes a boot up the bum (in this case verbally) is what is needed. Don't knock it. Football support comes in many forms and yelling at your team to do better can sometimes have just as much effect as shouting positive support.

Persoanlly, I never boo. But I don't have a problem with those who pay their money and want to express themselves in this way. Neither should Jaap Stam. In this case he might even be grateful for what they helped to achieve.