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A Series of Unfortunate Events, Part One: The Dreadful Demise

A diary of Reading’s downfall from play-off finalists to relegation contenders.

Huddersfield Town v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

It wasn’t so long ago that we were strolling down Wembley Way... hard to imagine, right? Now, almost a year later, we’re sitting just three points above the relegation zone with Jaap Stam out of a job. Reading’s fall from grace has been swift, undignified and largely unexpected.

To recount why things got so bad, we’ve picked out some of the key dates that have underpinned Reading’s plight in 2017/18. In this article, we’ll cover all of 2017 - don’t worry, the horrors of 2018 are coming in part two...

29th May 2017

Reading under-perform in stale Play-Off Final

After a miraculous season, Reading disappoint on their big day at Wembley. A penalty shoot-out defeat is heart-breaking and cruel but, in truth, the Royals didn’t perform well enough to deserve more. They trudge back to Berkshire to lick their wounds.

4th July 2017

Danny Williams leaves for the Terriers

An inevitability perhaps, but Danny Williams’ departure to Playoff Final winners Huddersfield is a sucker punch for Reading fans. The all-action midfielder will be sorely missed, leaving a gaping hole in the heart of the midfield. Ali Al-Habsi and coach Steven Reid also leave to compound the club’s problems.

5th August 2017

QPR embarrass the Royals

The play-off hangover is plain for all to see at Loftus Road as the Royals labour to a surprise defeat on the opening day. Reading have few ideas and little tempo, with calamitous defending gifting the home-side two goals and earning Tiago Ilori a red card.

31st August 2017

Reading fail to sign a marquee striker

Considering a pre-season injury to the ageing Yann Kermorgant, Jaap Stam and Brian Tevreden place signing a prolific striker at the top of their summer priority list. Despite links with Nelson Oliveira, Tomer Hemed and Jordan Hugill, the Royals slip into September empty-handed. Of Reading’s signings, Barrow will impress, Bodvarsson and Bacuna too, but Aluko, Edwards, Mannone and, initially, Clement will struggle.

23rd September 2017

Stam speaks out against the Reading fans

After a disappointing start to the season, including defeats to Bristol City and Preston, fan grumblings can be heard at home games. Following a fortunate 1-1 draw with Hull, Jaap Stam slams the Reading supporters in front of the media:

“If I need to feel pressure from them and how they react at certain times then I think it’s a little bit wrong to be honest. I can’t believe as a fan you can only cheer when it’s going well and for the rest of the day not say anything. They need to look at themselves and not at me.”

Sheffield Wednesday v Reading - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

11th October 2017

Obita declared ‘out for the season’

Jordan Obita’s knee injury deals a crushing blow to the Royals just two months into the season. Reading will have to cope with makeshift left-back Tyler Blackett or youth prospect Omar Richards for the remainder of the campaign, or move Chris Gunter out of position. Reading’s threat from the left hand-side decreases overnight.

21st October 2017

The Blades put Reading to the sword

Promoted-side Sheffield United dominate Jaap Stam’s Reading at Brammal Lane. Reading score with their only shot on target but succumb to inevitable defeat. Further discontent brews in the away crowd who, despite complimentary bus-travel, are subjected to more misery. The Royals are two points off the bottom-three in 20th place.

11th December 2017

Reading sacrifice a two-goal lead against Cardiff

Wins against Forest, Derby, Barnsley and Sunderland liven the mood as the Royals head into December. What’s more the Royals lead 2-0 at half-time against high-flying Cardiff! Is this the turning point of their season? Sadly not. Reading concede two late goals, triggering an eight-game run without a win.

23rd December 2017

A dismal display against Burton worsens woes

Reading put in arguably their worst performance of the season at home to Burton. The club pack out the Madejski with a £5 anniversary ticket deal, but few of the newcomers will be back. Shambolic defending gifts Burton the winner and piles the pressure on Jaap Stam (we assume…).