Reading have a chance to really pick up some momentum on Saturday with another match at the SCL, this time against Cardiff City. Working out how much of a threat the Bluebirds will be though is another matter: the visitors had been on an impressive run of seven wins and two draws in 12, but were then thumped 4-0 on their own patch to Swansea City last weekend.
We discussed that game, plus the Bluebirds’ season as a whole, with Cardiff City fan and writer Dan Lewis.
How would you sum up your season so far?
Terrible, quite frankly. From our worst-ever losing run midway through the season to getting thrashed at home by Swansea City last weekend, the sooner this campaign is over the better. With nothing to play for on the face of it over the remaining month, I can honestly only seeing things getting worse before they get better.
How's Steve Morison got on in the dugout?
He moved us out of relegation danger after replacing Mick McCarthy and was then offered the job on a permanent basis last month. As a caretaker boss, as he rightly points out, it's a case of job done - we won't be going down.
He's also managed to integrate some younger players into the squad, which is always a positive, and the football is also a lot better, but some of the performances have been terrible - look no further than that Swansea game. Morison's comments after the match harmed his reputation, too, when attempting to play down the result. If he's to win supporters over again then we need to win more games than we lose over this next month.
Ballsy from Steve Morison maybe but don’t think this quote will go down well with Cardiff fans after derby drubbing.— Phil Blanche (@philblanche) April 2, 2022
“Hopefully we don't dwell on it too long, because the remit when I took the job was to keep this club in the Championship next year - not to win certain games.”
Cardiff were on a good run before that hefty derby defeat to Swansea City - are you expecting that loss to deflate or galvanise the team?
You'd like to think it would motivate them to quickly respond, but it will take an almighty improvement on the back of that display to get anything this weekend. I think at this stage of the season, it ultimately comes down to who is more motivated, and with Reading still not safe from relegation that should work in your favour.
What are the main strengths of this Cardiff side? And weaknesses?
I'll answer this in one go because the brutal truth is there are no real strengths. Again, seeing some younger players slot into the team has been great, but Cardiff fans have been far more accustomed to challenging for promotion in recent times than fearing a relegation battle.
The 60 goals we have conceded is one of the worst records in the division, and not enough clean sheets have been kept. At the other end, we've scored just five goals in our last six games, so it's not as though a poor defence has been covered by a free-scoring attack.
How will the game go, and what will the score be?
I can't see this one being a thriller. Cardiff will no doubt have been working on their defensive setup on the back of the Swansea game, but I think Reading - on the back of a positive run of results - will be more motivated for this one and will come away with a slender victory. 1-0.