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View From The Dolan: No Fire In The Belly, No Soup In The Bowl

Wednesday night was thoroughly miserable for all of us, so here’s Ben to cheer you up with his take on the game.

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Cooooooool. Look, let’s level with each other now: no one expected that result or performance, not in Royal Berkshire and the surrounding counties, anyway.

And normally, I’d just knock this article out before Pauno had a chance to speak, but I was very interested to hear his views. He didn’t disappoint: intensive, frank, brutal. God knows what happened in the dressing room post-match. I’d like to think they cleaned the dressing room in absolute silence to reflect on the 90 minutes they’d just taken part in.

I imagine it went like this:

Pauno: Well, you’ve made yourselves look like right knobs, haven’t you? All you had to do was a beat a team that’s won three home games all season. Yes, they’ve just employed Lee Bowyer, but what is he? He’s just a car salesman! I mean, their goalie was our best player. And now, because of you lot, I’ve got to pull out the soup quote...

Semedo: *tuts*

Pauno: DON’T YOU TUT AT ME! Go and get the brush and start doing the toilets. Anyway, as I was saying, the soup...

Something like that. Back to Lee Bowyer, a man who recently swapped managing Chris Gunter for Scott Hogan. How can you trust a man who does that? And no one likes him. He’s not the messiah, he’s just a man who’s scared of Kieron Dyer. At best, he’s a car salesman (as Pauno mentioned) and at worst he’s one of those people that comes to your house with a clipboard and asks for money for charity and tries to compliment you by asking about your car that’s in the drive or how your day has been or how much they like the smell coming out of your kitchen. Anyway, I digress.

I began the first half by blowing up balloons (it’s my children’s birthday today - or, if you are reading this on Friday, yesterday) and soaking in Michael Morrison’s dulcet tones. He looked well lush and he’s currently my favourite player because he didn’t play last night and didn’t embarrass himself.

Everyone (literally everyone) knows that when a club gets a new manager, the first 5-10 minutes of their first game is savage. Regardless of whether the team can sustain it, they come out and show off, like a peacock in mating season displaying their feathers. They really go for it to impress their new coach. So why on earth we decided to masquerade as a pub team at this point is beyond me. Even if you do nothing else, don’t let them score. That motto lasted four minutes when some awful defending and some terrible goalkeeping allowed a man who hadn’t scored in 48 games and three years (probably) to nod home the opener. I was so angry I could have sworn.

Almost directly after this, the cameras and the commentating team revealed a dark secret: Brum were putting replacement balls behind the barriers, out of sight of the players. What kind of club does this? A club that allows their pitch to resemble a barnyard and a club which fires managers, on average, every time the clocks change (again, probably), that’s what type of club!

Birmingham City v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

As I approached my last balloon (erm, it’s worth pointing out that it didn’t take me that long to blow up the balloons, I was taking breaks to gesticulate at the TV and check ‘the vibe’ on Twitface), we became equal as Etheridge fluffed his lines and Yakou nodded home the equaliser. At that point, we were probably in the driving seat and should have been able to kick on and get some proper points out of the game.

For most of the second half we weren’t too bad. It’s fair to say we grew into the game without actually turning that growing into something which wasn’t a footballing metaphor, e.g. a goal. You could tell that Brum were a team that were used to losing at home as the nerves were creeping in. But then, of course, our hosts scored. More poor defending resulted in a free header for someone who sounds like a terrible motorbike (Harley Dean) and that was basically that. We didn’t get back into the game, didn’t really seem capable of scoring an equaliser and it was another game against a pretty terrible side where, in all honesty, we couldn’t cope with what they were offering.

As I sat there in stony silence post-game, I realised that one of the presents for my son was the latest Reading kit. What’s worse is, he asked for it. Thinking quickly, I unwrapped it, took it down to the bottom of the garden, placed it in a secure container, poured petrol over it, went back up to the house to get the matches, grabbed my coat as it was cold, went back down to the bottom of the garden, checked there was no wildlife nearby (hedgehogs, foxes, mice etc), dropped the match onto the shirt, stepped back from the item and watched as the flames engulfed the shirt. Yep, I couldn’t embarrass him by giving him that.

I didn’t overreact to the Wycombe loss. I stayed calm, I felt we showed something in that game and with the missed penalty, it wasn’t as bad as others made out. This game, however, was pretty terrible. No fire in the belly, no soup in the bowl, no end product. And at that, I will bid you “good night” (or “good morning” if you are reading this before 12noon, or “good afternoon” if you are reading this after 12noon and before, say, 8pm).

Until next time. Probably.