"Reading secure Championship status with two games to go” probably isn’t the headline most Royals fans would have expected to see in August. Since the points deduction was eventually confirmed in November, we all knew it wasn’t going to be comfortable.
Morale, form and fun in general left Berkshire like some sort of migrating bird flying off to warmer climates. It’s been an absolute shocker of a season and one that I’ve personally wanted to see the back of for a long time.
Nothing has gone right on or off the pitch. Yeah, we’ve had some good results (most of which were completely unexpected - Fulham, Bournemouth and Sheffield United to name three) but the bad ones far outweigh the lovely ones. We’ve lost to a non-league team, messed up our own birthday party and shipped seven goals to the most average Championship title winners ever (probably).
Paul Ince coming has, over time, given us the right outcome. We’ve been lucky in that there will never be there worse teams in the league than there has this year, but really the Easter period probably sealed our fate along with confirming that of other teams.
What these last few results have brought is a little bit of goodwill back from the fanbase. Seeing fans celebrate a 3-0 loss is unparalleled but shows you the relief people feel at our “achievement” of staying up. I’m in the bracket, trust me. I’m not celebrating finishing 21st (which is more than likely) - I’ve said it many times that this squad has undelivered pretty much from the off this season. I’m just thankful that we haven’t been relegated - that would have been a fall into the abyss that we may not have recovered from for a while.
At least with us being a Championship side once again, we may prove to be a slightly more attractive proposition to potential playing suitors. Then again, we may not, but at least we’ve put ourselves in a slightly higher shop window.
Make no mistake about it: the club has its work cut out this summer with decisions galore needing to be made. Whether or not they are made remains to be seen, but in my mind they have an additional two weeks now where, to be completely honest, it doesn’t actually matter what happens on the pitch but more what happens off it. Dialogue with the fans, the manager situation, dialogue with the fans, release list, dialogue with the fans, contracts issued, dialogue with the fans. Oh, did I mention dialogue with the fans?
What I want them to do and what they will do are two different things, as they are to every Reading Football Club fan I’d imagine. But the club have a chance to win some trust back from this truly awful 150th year.
We can only hope that our 151st sees huge improvements on and off the pitch. The bottom line is that we desperately need them.