The level of positivity that Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest has generated around Reading Football Club highlights just how despondent the club has been recently. The Royals may still be in the Championship bottom three with a big job on their hands to survive relegation, but after winning a game for the first time in 12 attempts, and scoring as many goals as in the previous seven matches combined, three points felt incredible. This was what winning felt like, and we were going to savour it.
To quote a former Reading manager Nigel Adkins, who by the way is doing a bloody marvellous job at Hull City at the moment, “The positivity of being positive, is so positive.”
The performance itself was one to be proud of. Reading were comfortably better than Forest, who only sat four points outside of the play-offs before kick-off. The Royals showed energy, composure and commitment to secure a commanding win that put a smile on the faces of those in attendance at the Madejski Stadium.
While the second half’s mass brawl may have indicated disarray and disharmony a month ago, now it almost felt as though this Reading team needed that scrap. It showed the heart and passion of the players and showed supporters there is fight in this squad yet. Maybe Jose Gomes' ‘no phone’ rule is having an impact.
Sure, it was a win against a Nottingham Forest side who had been thrown into chaos after the departure of Aitor Karanka the day before, but this was a Reading team who had recently lost 2-0 to relegation rivals Millwall and embarrassed themselves in a 4-1 home defeat to Swansea. Getting that first win under Gomes was a milestone reached. The words of the manager himself has only made that flame of positivity burn brighter:
“On Saturday, they didn’t play for me personally. The most important thing is not what I’m feeling after a match. We are talking about Reading Football Club.
”It doesn’t matter who is manager, who scores the goals, who plays - more important than anyone is the club. Reading.
”If you look at the league table, you see Reading. You don’t see José, or Bacuna or Swift or Moore or Ilori… you see Reading. And this is the most important thing.
“Everyone is really focused to be part of this beautiful family and to help Reading Football Club be better in the future.”
Bat it away as PR drivel that won’t actually win you any points, but it’s hard not to be taken in by a George Clooney lookalike with a sexy Portuguese accent. Put simply, Gomes (seemingly) just gets it. He understands the ethos of Reading, he values what this club means to supporters and he knows how fans respond to players showing desire, togetherness and spirit on the pitch.
It is easy to get carried away, so Royals fan should be cautioned by Ipswich’s situation. Paul Lambert was making all the right noises and doing all the right things upon his arrival at Portman Road in November, giving the club a real boost, but the Tractor Boys remain seven points from safety. Relegation remains a very real possibility for Reading, and we still haven’t won two games in a row in over 13 months, so let’s not run before we can walk.
But to be going into the final 19 games of the season with a bit of optimism around the place feels so much better than the rut we’ve been in for what feels like an eternity. The club is beginning to come together again, and glimpses of the Reading of old are emerging. It won’t be easy, but together we can get our team over the line.