Reading are back at the Mad Stad on Saturday afternoon, entertaining Blackburn Rovers. Tony Mowbray’s side made a fine return to the Championship last season, finishing comfortably in mid-table after promotion from League One.
Ahead of the game, we spoke to Rovers fan Mike Delap for his views on how the match will go, the state his club are in both on and off the pitch, and more. Find Mike on Twitter here, and thanks to him for his help!
In the summer you said you were after “another solid season with a possible outside shot at the play offs” - are you on track for that?
It’s probably a little early to tell given the rigours of the Championship but I haven’t seen tons of evidence to suggest otherwise yet. I’m still expecting us to moor up in mid-table for the majority of the season. So far three wins, one draw and three losses - small sample size, but sounds about right!
Tony Mowbray has been at the club for a few years now - how important has he been for you?
Very. There’s no denying that. It’s impossible to overstate the transformation from the club he inherited from O**n C***e to the one you see now. Because that’s what he’s done - not changed a team but changed a club.
Will he outlive his usefulness? Yes of course he will. But he’s been a certifiable breath of fresh air in a toxic waste dump.
How do Blackburn set up tactically?
Depends who you’re asking! 4-2-3-1 is the sort of formation we generally tend to play with ‘wide strikers’ (whatever they are) coming in from the sides. The two in the middle buzz around trying to hold the fort whilst the likes of Bradley Dack try to weave a bit of magic in front.
Often we go direct and it’s a bit dull but works, often we try to be a bit fancy and it usually fails so we go back to being dull again. Rocket science...
All things considered, how good a shape is the club as a whole in?
Financially we’re in an awful pickle. £130m+ worth of debt all propped up by Venky’s conscience and desire to atone for past mistakes. It’s pretty grim as the minute the decide they’re not so bothered we turn into another Bolton Wanderers overnight. But whilst their financial support continues we seem healthy, whatever that is nowadays.
Who are your team’s unsung heroes?
Lewis Travis is turning into a tremendous midfielder - he often flies under the radar of the wider football audience but he’s a young lad making an impression. Also this season seems to have spawned Derrick Williams as a very reliable centre back, which is as shocking as it is very well received. Early days but long may it continue.
How do you see the game going, and what will the score be?
Hard to call this one and suspect it will be tight. I’ll be the fence sitter we all hate but deep down respect and say a 1-1 draw.