Ouch. It’s safe to say that this wasn’t a good footballing Christmas period for the Royals. Defeat against Burton, in the 500th game at the Mad Stad was bad enough, but it was the performance that was the real worry. Following that up with a 2-0 defeat at Bristol City on Boxing Day, got the fans nervous. An unlucky 1-1 draw against Barnsley and people started to be concerned.
Then the Birmingham game happened. As per our usual form, a team that hasn’t won away all season (a la Villa last year) came to Reading and were made to look like Barcelona.
It doesn’t take a high degree of footballing knowledge to realise that something at Reading FC just isn’t right. You have to look at that performance last night and say “better than Burton”, but that isn’t the point. This is probably the most expensively put together team that Reading have ever had and what is clear is that they aren’t delivering or performing. Whether that be tactical, confidence or quality is the role of another column.
My point is that something has to give. Not sure that changing the manager will solve anything, if you can’t pass a ball five yards to a fellow player, or the captain not make a stupid decision on the edge of our box that leads to a goal as we did last night, then is that really the manager?
Either way the comments from the Twittersphere from the Birmingham fans ranged from jubilation to cautiousness to the downright deluded. However, it’s only fair that we let them have this moment, as on Tuesday night their players earned that right for them.
Lets not get too carried away eh lads...
Cancel your summer holidays boys @stockogk1313 @OfficialHDean Youve got a plane to catch #BCFC pic.twitter.com/HWEm8aGIZo— James Edwards Racing (@James__racing) January 3, 2018
Bordering on realism...
I'm sorry two games and Cotterill is now manager of the week??? have people forgotten that we're second from bottom and will most likely be in League one next year?? Too little too late mate #BCFC https://t.co/j05rrO9gG1— Sophie Glynn (@SophieGlynn1) January 3, 2018
Bordering on lunacy...
Last 2 matches. Birmingham City - 6 point. Manchester City - 4 points. Steve Cotterill > Pep Guardiola #bcfc— JJ (@JJJenkinson16) January 3, 2018
Cracking away turnout for a cold Tuesday
Birmingham fans at Reading last night #BCFC pic.twitter.com/yrlV44BSt2— Away Days Uk (@AwayDayUK) January 3, 2018
Four factors that are majorly missing at Reading...
The passion. The fight. The determination. The relief. Two wins on the bounce now, this is our time to shine and get to safety because we deserve the stay in this league. @stockogk1313 deserves alot of praise & admiration so does the players for the shift they put in again #BCFC pic.twitter.com/B2SeDEcA9O— aimbcfc (@aimbcfc) January 3, 2018
Maybe a tad delusional
20 points behind 6th. The promotion comeback is on #bcfc— emily (@emdrakeley) January 3, 2018
This speaks volumes
Bolton and Burton flying fairly high in the form table; Birmingham and Sunderland performing solidly as well. This demonstrates how strange and unpredictable the Championship relegation battle is becoming. #bwfc #bafc #safc #bcfc pic.twitter.com/kOOVXAfFlg— Wanderers⚽ (@TomSmith22222) January 3, 2018
I hate stats like this
#Birmingham’s 2-0 win at #readingfc was their:— Goodbrand Stats (@StatsChristian) January 2, 2018
1st away win since May 7.
1st consecutive league wins since May.
1st time they’d scored twice in a league game since Aug 12.
1st time they’d scored twice in an away league game since Feb 24.#bcfc #kro pic.twitter.com/JxWcgAZpd3
Back to being deluded
#bcfc pic.twitter.com/0O9rUJul9D— Jay Head (@Jay_PHead) January 2, 2018
Have your moment, #BCFC deserved this one
#bcfc pic.twitter.com/9YWQjFF6hB— Dom (@DomJG96) January 2, 2018
There is one good thing about currently being rubbish at football - the press doesn’t give you much attention! What little there is rightly praises Birmingham City, and makes a point that the Royals are in a “slump” althoug other phrases are available…
Starting with the BBC it’s the shortest of reports for a long while and focuses on the reaction from the managers, with Stam saying he doesn’t believe that it was a “dreadful display”, some Reading fans might have an issue with that. There is also an extended piece covering reaction from Stam and also from Ron Gourlay.
For those who wish like to indulge in horror films, Sky are running a Reading Special it seems at the moment and this week’s tale is one of a side that can’t pass and can’t defend and you can watch it right here! Their report goes on to say that Birmingham deserved the victory and although Reading created chances, we lacked that touch of class to really worry Birmingham.
A national did report on the game and this is courtesy of the Daily Mail. A decent report this, written by an obvious Aluko fan (could be wrong but thought he was awful) and makes a valid point of how quickly fans opinions can change, from being lauded as the great saviour in May to that of the devil in January… oh how times can change.
GetReading has lots of feedback and coverage, with Jonathan Low really saying at it is - that we deserved nothing out of the game and it’s a disastrous season.
Normally I try to be positive and look for good points, however after watching three of the games over Christmas, being the two home ones and the away trip at Barnsley, I have seen little that suggests this team in its present form is able to get out of this slump.
There are fundamental issues around a lack of creativity, a defence that last season was excellent and this season porous, an attack that last season was deadly and this season limp, and more worrying the lack of ability to create luck.
January is going to be a difficult month with the transfer window and as Stam said hopefully they can be “creative” with bringing a few players in, without losing our star players such as Liam Moore.
I’m not going to defend Stam or call for his head as that debate is raging enough. I’m more concerned by how a team that last season had energy and commitment is now a pale shadow of what it was. The main difference to me and I may be wrong is the difference that a certain Danny Williams made. Whilst he had his critics, and did have poor games, on the whole he gave this team a dynamic edge, a true box-to-box player that could - when we wanted to grab the game by the scruff of its neck and inject some energy, as well as the dirty work of tracking back and putting a tackle in.
Now not for one moment am I saying that this is the be all and end all of it, but I can’t help but think that we never truly replaced that style of player in midfield and for me is a little bit of what’s missing, that defensive role coupled with lung busting runs forward.
In true form, we will never actually know, but it’s a starting point and that style of player is valuable as this season the players are looking for leadership, something that at this moment is badly missing out on the pitch.
We have to play our part and support as best we can, as they say if you’re a supporter, it’s through the bad times as well as the good and hopefully they will return soon!