After one match against a relegation-threatened side, it's time for another. Reading will be desperate to bounce back from that embarrassing defeat against Wigan Athletic with victory over Barnsley on Saturday.
However, the Tykes' run of three wins on the bounce shows just what they can do when they're at their best. Reds fans Rob Miles thinks extending that run will be vital if Barnsley are stay up though, and that starts at the Madejski Stadium.
In December, you described your season so far to us as “disastrous”. Have things got any better?
Clearly! Although two weeks ago we still looked dead and buried following defeat to Birmingham City which was our fourth in five games and left us nine points adrift. Obviously three wins in a row at any point of a season helps and it’s at least kept our season alive. Unfortunately the other two teams who have been struggling all season (Luton Town and Wigan Athletic) have also found a bit of a form.
After we lost to Birmingham I said we needed promotion form to stay up and that remains the case. Three wins in a row is great but we are still three points adrift which can quite easily become six if we lose to you this weekend so we simply just have to keep winning.
What do you make of Gerhard Struber? Has he proved to be a good appointment?
I do feel we would be well adrift if he hadn’t come in, although some of his decisions have been criticised. His best by far was dropping Mads Andersen. We had been conceding goals for fun with him in the team - many were down to his individual mistakes. He was dropped for the Fulham game and we haven’t conceded a goal since! Wednesday night was the first time we have won three successive second-tier games without conceding a goal since 2001!
How do you expect Barnsley to set up on Saturday in terms of personnel and system?
I think we will continue in the same pressing, attacking style that we have done most of the season. When confidence is high as it is now it works very well. Chaplin and Brown are complimenting Woodrow well and we look solid at the back with Halme and Sollbauer.
Barnsley have been a bit of a yo-yo team in recent seasons - what needs to change if you’re to establish yourselves in the Championship?
I think it’s really difficult for a club like ourselves to consolidate at this level now. We hold the record for most seasons in the second tier but it has changed so much in the last 10-15 years. The clubs at the top end fighting for promotion are a million miles ahead of us so it begs the question is this still our level. One thing we have never done before is go straight back down after coming up (excluding the Premier League season) so the end result in May will probably show where we belong.
Who do you expect to go down this season? Could Reading get drawn into the mix?
A couple of weeks ago I thought there was only one place up to grabs because us and Luton looked dead and buried. Now I think there is about nine teams in it. I would probably say Reading are at the top of this mini league (Derby look safe on 45 points) But if you win on Saturday I would class you as safe.
I’m still not fully convinced we will survive because we need to turn this three-game run into five/six and I’m not sure we can. I think Middlesbrough will just scrape out so the current bottom three would be my prediction.
How do you see the game going, and what will the score be?
We need to win so I can see it being tight. We’ve got a decent recent record at the Madejski too. I’ll say 1-1.