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View From The Dolan: A Dream Start

Ben’s take as the Paul Ince era kicks off with three points at the SCL.

PA Images via Getty Images

Full disclaimer: I didn’t go to the game. Second full disclaimer: I’m going to tell you about a dream I had. So, I’ve given you fair warning and I’d imagine at least 60% of people who opened this article have now left and aren’t reading any more. Therefore, the 40% of you who did stay have my respect and gratitude.

Right, let’s do the dream first. And it’s one of those where I woke up and was genuinely baffled by it, so here we go:

I found myself in Las Vegas at a very busy breakfast buffet. It was one of those typical holiday hotels with the big pool and the entertainment with a stage. The food was plentiful and consistent with international tastes: pastries, fruit, fried goods - you get the jist.

As I was queuing up, a chap approached me and said “once you’ve got your food, come and sit on my table”. I turned to see Mr Paul Ince mouthing the words. I grabbed my items and made my way to his table, ignoring the cabaret show that was entirely populated by pigeons (told you it was baffling). I sat down and before we could chat, Paul realised he had forgotten the butter for his croissants. Laughter came from a table next to us: it was Marko Mitrovic. “I’ve got some”, he cackled, “but you can’t have any because you are a joke and deserve dry pastries”.

Well, you can imagine the reaction from the Guv’nor! He stood up, made his way over to Marko’s table and said “look, it’s not my fault you lot were crap. I didn’t get you sacked”. With that, Marko stood up, threw his head backwards, laughed and swished his back coat (oh, forgot to say, he was dressed as a vampire) and strolled off towards the billiards room. And then I woke up.

It was at that point I realised that I’d probably been thinking way too much about Reading Football Club recently and decided there and then and there that I should probably “skive off” for the night.

I actually missed kick-off because the beer I opened exploded all over the worktop and it took a while to clear it all up, so by the time I’d sorted that and actually found the game on Sky, the game was five minutes old.

I felt in the first half we were more solid and were able to win those second balls back quicker. We also appeared to have more possession than previous first halves recently, which all pointed to improvements. The key point however was that the five/six-minute period when we went full “Sunday league” didn’t lead to us conceding and that is a real success story. Crosses were coming in thick and fast but we were able to withstand the pressure of it all and actually head into the Bovril break as the better side once that crappy period had passed.

Reading v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

50% of the cats we own appeared at the living room to remind me that they needed feeding, but as I opened the pouch, all the gravy went all over my fingers and floor, which then took up most of the half to clean up. A quick check on Twitface confirmed that the masses were also happy with the performance and that we were all set up to win the second half and, for all of you who understand what happens when you are 0-0 at half time and then score more goals than the opposition in the second half, the game itself.

The first goal from Lord Lucas was excellent, the second was the softest 12-yard death kick you’ll see, but was converted with aplomb. I honestly didn’t see the Brum goal as I was distracted (I say distracted, I went into the kitchen to get some Pringles), so can’t comment on it really.

What I would say is that I never felt we were in danger of losing the game (or rather not getting three points once we went ahead), and that’s the biggest compliment I can pay this team. Resilience, a bit more game management, sensible possession were all in show. And crucially, we didn’t crumble when we conceded.


Three points is massive. We are unbeaten in three games now, but there’s still a long way to go. At the time of writing, we are eight points clear of Derby County and five behind Hull City with a game in hand, which I believe will be the Stoke City home game in April.

It’s as good a start as Ince could have had and the key now is to keep moving forward. I fancy our chances on Saturday against a Blackpool side with very little play for and then after that, it’s another winnable game against Millwall at home.

For once, plenty of positives to be had and I’m over the moon with it. It’s been far too long.

Until next time.