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View (Not) From The Dolan: Unity In Defeat

If Saturday’s ugly win divided the fans, this one brought us all back together again.

I’ve had some time to reflect on Saturday and I can’t ever remember a win splitting the fan base so vehemently. I would always take a win over performance, always. Particularly as the last few years we’ve had what Americans call “losing seasons” and have barely been able to stay in the league.

Yeah, the win against Charlton was the ugliest you will ever see. Yeah, attacking wise we weren’t great. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty to watch. But, a win is a win. To highlight this viewpoint, I’d like to draw your attention to QPhahahahahahhahaha’s stats from their game at the weekend:

“Irrelevant” I can hear you shouting at your smartphone.

“Why pick those losers?” I see you slapping your desktop screen.

But like it or not, QPhahahahhahaahaha are a team in a similar boat to us, certainly in terms of where they started when football re-commenced. And yet, they are struggling. Just look at those stats. Looks like really aesthetically pleasing football: loads of passes, more shots than we had, plenty of possession. But look at the most telling stat: the score. Would I take a great performance and a loss over a terrible performance and a win? Never. Always, always take the win.

The final point I would make is that the squad will be reshaped in the summer/off season. Bowen can’t be expected to fully implement his preferred style of play when he’s having to utilise players that probably won’t be here next season. I’m looking forward to moving on with a team that is delicious to watch but one that also wins football matches. We can hope, right?

I spent the time leading up to the game cleaning the inside of my car. It wasn’t horrific, it just needed a vacuum and change of air freshener. This might seem like utterly pointless information, but after watching the first 15 minutes of the game, I realised that I should have spent the time cleaning the outside as well.

Not only did Reading seem completely disinterested in stringing any sort of sequence of passes together or threaten the visitors goal, but they were allowing Boro to dictate the play. To make matters worse, we were treated to another shambolic episode of the ‘Tim & Mick Show’ where they spent a good six minutes debating who Neil Warnock’s assistant was:

Mick: There’s Warnock’s long-time assistant.

Tim: Yeah, can’t remember his name.

Me: It’s Kevin Blackwell.

Mick: Yeah, he goes everywhere with Neil. Wish I could remember his name.

Me: It’s Blackwell.

Tim: I know Ronnie Jepson is involved.

Me: IT’S KEVIN BLACKWELL (I’m shouting now).

Mick: If only I could remember his name.

Me: Do you two actually do any research/know about football/realise that people are listening to you? IT’S. KEVIN. BLOODY. BLACKWELL. You get paid to do this.

Tim: Kevin Blackwell!

Mick: Ah yes! That’s him!


Luckily, we were absolved of this diabolical interchange that resembled two middle-aged chaps drinking shandy down the local Beefeater (who have yet to confirm they are taking part in the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme) as Moore (of all people) bundled home the opener. A lovely cross was flicked on by Blackett, who has done himself every chance of getting a new contract recently (if he wants it) and was pushed over the line by the makeshift defensive midfielder to put the Royals 1-0 up.

I was distracted, as were many on Twitter, by the carnage (and it was carnage) that was unfolding in the Wigan game who just kept scoring. It was fascinating to watch from afar as the Hull goal interior was continually breached, sending them deeper into the relegation quagmire. I mean, to be 7-0 down at the interval is quite incredible.

As our game wound down for half time, my neighbour knocked at the door to give me a news article they thought I might like. I didn’t and she’d wasted her time (sorry if you’re reading this Margaret, I respect and value you as a neighbour, but never, ever knock on my door when I’m watching the Biscuitmen play via a live stream) - but this social interaction made me miss the Boro equaliser, so I suppose that was a positive?

Reading v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Come half time, I was so pissed off that I cooked myself a beige dinner. I say cooked: all I did was take some food from a very cold place (the freezer) and put it into a very hot place (the oven). “What food?” I hear you ask: chips, fish fingers (x3) and two chicken dippers (it was the last of the pack), alongside two pieces of bread (to create the fish finger sandwich).

While I waited for them to turn golden brown (they never do) I drank a lager and watched the Wigan goals go in. Just before the second half kicked off, I grabbed the food from the oven (using oven gloves) and selected my sauce: salad cream for the sandwich and ketchup for the rest of the colourless goodies.

Early in the second period we were again given an insight into Tim & Mick’s bizarre relationship when Tim gleefully announced that he had received a photo from Mick’s fiancée showing him and Akinfenwa (I mean, completely unrelated to what was being discussed at the time) from a few years back. Then, in an unsavoury hybrid of two of my favourite comedy characters (Brent and Partridge), Tim made an innuendo about the fiancée in question sending him photos “...again”. I just imagined his smarming (made up word) face as he said it. Ugh.

Back on the pitch and Reading were doing their best to chuck the ball away at any opportunity. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see anyone in blue and white make a complete pass for at least the first 15 minutes. It really was unpleasant. Once the oven-baked goodness had been dispatched, I went to get an ice cream. And of course, Boro scored. Again, you could look upon it as a positive: I got an ice cream AND missed the defence make tits of themselves, so win win?

Either way, we were now losing. The performance got worse and we never looked like getting back into the game. The regulation time dwindled away like a forlorn stick floating downstream and Boro held on for the valuable three points.

Did we deserve to lose? Probably. Do I care? Not really. I, like the players clearly, am desperate for this season to be over. If Saturday’s win split the fan base, this loss bought them back together again. A bad result with a bad performance, but the main thing is that we are safe and we only have another two games to sit through. We know for sure the season will end next Tuesday and it can’t come quick enough.

Until next time.