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Hunty’s Column: What Happened To The Reading Way?

Our columnist wishes this Reading side would stand up, fight, and show some backbone.

Reading v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Play Off: Second Leg Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Firstly, what happened with regards to the Leicester City helicopter crash, Glenn Hoddle being taking ill and a fan dying at a game reminds us that football is still just a game. A game we all love with a passion, not to mention our team Reading FC which we all love with a passion.

At the minute though, it’s so sad to see what is going with our beloved club. We have been here before haven’t we right? Some of our younger fans may not have even been born then, back in the early years of the Madejski Stadium! Poor performances, poor crowds, poor atmosphere and no real bond between the fans, players and club - sadly what we are witnessing recently takes me back to those times in the late 1990s.

We have had it coming for a number of years though, ever since Sir John Madejski and The Reading Way were deemed not fashionable anymore. We have become like a number of other clubs, gambling on changing owners, managers, backroom staff and players like it’s a night out at the local casino. Apart from a play-off final and a seventh-place since our last stint in the Premier League, we have generally been woeful.

Going back to when the last time the club was this insipid, it took ‘Mad Dog’ Martin Allen to kick some ass and get the players wanting to play for our team. That was a different era, but looking at our current first team squad there are a number of players who give the impression they couldn’t care less about our club. To me, it seems like just a job to them - they clock in, clock out and go about their lives. When another job comes up, they will be off to collect their pay packets from another employer.

Hope in the academy

The under-23 team are enjoying a fine season. They are playing good football, have great team spirit, and include a number of local talented players. Are they realistically anywhere near first team selection? No chance sadly, as we continue to play the ‘Paul Clement Golden Gamble’ approach to picking a team. One of our more gifted players is frozen out of the team due to a bust up with the manager, while others do sod all to justify the wage they are on.

I would quite happily watch the under-23s play in the league every week, regardless of the outcome. They clearly want to be part of the club and are proud to pull on the famous shirt. How many of the first team squad honestly give you the same impression?

Arsenal U23 v Reading U23 - Premier League International Cup
The talented Josh Barrett
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Like everywhere else in business, leadership in football comes from the top, but from our owners we get silence. From the CEO we get arrogance and reports of a number of disgruntled employees within the club. It’s hardly The Reading Way is it?

It is very easy to blame Paul Clement but for me he is just another symptom of a club with a major problem. Brian McDermott, Nigel Adkins and Steve Clarke tried their best with the club in difficult circumstances. They came and went with varying degrees of success. What we had with them though was a backbone of academy-produced players. This gave us hope and enjoyment, seeing one of our own playing for The Royals.

Jaap Stam started to move away from that, but had initial success which covered up the cracks. Since then we are going downhill quicker than Eddie The Eagle Edwards ever could.

Paul Clement can only work with what he has got I guess? I still have no idea what style of football we are trying to play under him and, to be honest, I’m not sure even the players look like they do at times. Regardless of how we play, one thing that is clearly lacking is the willingness of players to stand up and be counted for the cause!

How many Phil Parkinson type players do you see out there? No one seems bothered if we get relegated to be honest - I don’t see any passion out there at the minute.

I wouldn’t wish anyone to lose their job, but I really wish we had a manager who would get angry. Please show some fire, Paul, kick some overpaid backsides and wake our great club up from this constant state of hibernation. If Clement can’t, get someone in who can.

I just want my club back.