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View From The Dolan: No Conviction

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Cat surgery and 90s trance music feature in Ben’s wrap-up of a poor evening for Reading at Kenilworth Road.

PA Images via Getty Images

You basically couldn’t make up the last few days in the football world. I mean, you couldn’t, could you? Not really. One minute play-offs are impossible (our draw against Cardiff). The next, they’re possible (Barnsley lose) and suddenly it’s game on again. Oh and there was some chatter about some Super League that involved the continent.

Aside from the fact that we were playing away, we we were playing Luton and they were wearing a different shade of orange (more ‘traffic cone’ than ‘Valencia’) and it was a different day, literally nothing else had really changed from the draw on Friday against the South Wales outfit.

My cat has recently had major surgery (he’s had a kidney removed - I’d call that major) and he is genuinely showing more appetite, conviction and courage than our team currently is. Now, before you go “oooh don’t be negative”, I’m not, but you can’t deny that this end to the season has been an absolute wash-out. And if you don’t agree, I strongly advise you to stop reading now.

As for the game, the only genuinely exciting thing about it was the playing of trance tunes before kick-off at Kenilworth Road. So much so that it had me scrambling for the Shazam app on my phone to remember the big hits of the mid-to-late 90s in the trance music world.

There were times in the game when I wasn’t entirely sure if the players themselves knew they actually had to win this match. To have to wait until the 91st minute for a shot on target, in a game we had to win, is not OK. I’m sorry, but it’s not. If anything, Luton looked the more enterprising of the two teams moving forward and created more chances (or at least, clear-cut opportunities) than we did. But you didn’t come here for a match report, did you? Of course you didn’t - that’s not my area.

I like Pauno. I felt quite sick at the idea that people would want him sacked because I literally hate the idea that a bad run results in a sacking. We should have kept Mark Bowen last summer and we should keep Pauno now. The reason we are still in the Championship is because we keep sacking managers - not because we are a bad football team (although I’m open to a difference of opinion on that one based on teams of recent years).

My frustration this season boils down to the last few months, when we have let a great position slip. We can blame fatigue, lack of squad depth, injuries; the fact remains that ending in the play-off spots (or higher) was within our grasp. We haven’t bottled it, we just haven’t had the legs to go the distance and the skill to adapt to each game and grind those results out. We like to score first, we like to be in control: when we do that, we win games.

On a positive note, at least the team haven’t made us look like idiots after we all said the season was over after the Cardiff game. Even after Barnsley’s loss at the weekend, they’ve kept it consistent by making sure we were right at that point.

It’s hard not to be romantic about football - this week has shown us that fans are, whoever they support. That said, it’s also impossible to not get infuriated and angry with our team. A bit more of the romance next season would be lovely.

Until next time.