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Hunty’s Column: I Love It When A Club Comes Together

Hunty hails the impact of Jose Gomes and how it’s changed the whole club.

Queens Park Rangers v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Whisper it quietly, but the good times are coming back to Reading Football Club. Since the demise of the fat controller Ron Gourlay, day by day the club is returning to the one we all loved.

Why?

In any business leadership comes from the top and works its way down. Gourlay seemed to hold back everyone under his leadership, including the owners. But with Nigel Howe back, things appear more settled behind the scenes. The owners are far more open and are even bringing the fun back to the club.

OK, the Comic Relief red shirt sale didn’t go smoothly, but it was still a great idea. Hopefully they have learned from it. Perhaps we will see more great initiatives in the future - just no new club anthem; I don’t think the world is quite ready for that yet!

The guys at the club running the social media accounts seems to have had the shackles taken off now that Ron has gone. They’ve really reached out to the fans, and are coming up with some brilliant stuff that makes us feel part of the club.

Long may it continue!

Jose Gomes, what can I say, but I absolutely love the manager. From day one he has been very clear about the fans’ involvement and it being our team. This is something that was lacking under a number of previous managers who seemed to be irritated by the supporters.

Gomes says the right things, but you honestly get the feeling he is talking from the heart and is genuinely one of us. He was superb in the recent STAR fans’ forum. How can you not like the guy?

Manchester United v Reading - FA Cup Third Round Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

This popularity hasn’t been seen since the heady days of Brian McDermott (part one). Tactically, Brian was not the best at the highest level, but he got the players playing for him and each other. Jose in a short time has had the same effect.

Last-minute winners were common place under McDermott, and Saturday’s crucial goal from Modou Barrow showed the passion and never-give-up attitude from the players that we’ve missed. How passionately they celebrated with the fans! When was the last time we saw that?

Gomes has got rid of some fringe players and replaced them with quality, which is a minor miracle when you’re battling relegation. Emiliano Martinez, Nelson Olivera and Matt Miazga have been stand-out players, suited to a system the manager and players believe in.

The goal against Rotherham United just over a week ago showed what can be done; just imagine the impact of a whole pre-season! Jaap Stam had a similar system but was obsessed with possession, which worked so well until teams found him out. Plus, we didn’t recruit the right players to move it on to the next level.

Gomes has made some mistakes of course, but he is still learning about the most insane league in the world. But you admire him for admitting when he gets it wrong. He has made us more organised and harder to beat in general. OK, we have had a couple of bad results, but this team is still a work in progress.

The former Rio Ave manager has the belief that we will stay up and has installed this into the playing squad. Yakou Meite winning the ball to set up Barrow on Saturday was a prime example of this.

After the win at Ipswich Town, I have the belief we can stay up and actually get a decent run of results. The closest I can compare this season to is when were heading for relegation to League Two in 2000. Alan Pardew brought in Martin Allen and players like Matt Robinson and Sammy Igoe. That was the start of the greatest era in our club’s history.

Can Jose similarly inspire the rebirth of our club? I believe he can, but to do that he needs the final piece of the jigsaw - namely the fans! The atmosphere against Rotherham United was amazing and greatly improved on the last few home games.

Rather than criticising the efforts of Club 1871, people are getting behind it and trying to create an atmosphere on all sides of the ground. If we can be that extra player for these final games we can stay up.

Oh, and there’s free beer if you go in there on Saturday apparently...

The players are showing passion on the pitch and interacting a lot more on social media since you know who left.

Saturday’s game against Wigan Athletic is another must-win game, so let’s get the team over the line. Yes we may still go down and if we do then we can bounce back - we have done it before. However it is not just about results, it’s also about a club having an identity - the feeling of us all being in it together: owners, coaching staff, players and fans.

Now the toxic stench has lifted(and i dont mean the whitley whiff) we can start to move forward as a united club. Urzzzzz!