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View From The Dolan: Ugly Casserole

Ben’s take on a stressful mess of a week at Reading that ended in a drab 0-0 at home to Burton Albion.

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It’s pretty hard to write a matchday experience column when, in actual fact, that matchday is consumed with anxiety, misery and fear. And that’s just the off-pitch stuff, to be honest.

Realistically, after last week’s loss, this was a “must not lose” style game. So in essence, it was job done. But I’m finding it impossible to overlook all the other elements that are overshadowing the club which are being chucked into the mix like a massively ugly casserole.

Before we have a look at the game itself, let just recap the week in RG2 and surrounding areas:

  • Rumours begin circulating by those “in the know” (trust me, that old mute button has been a blessing this week) that staff wouldn’t get paid at the end of the week
  • Tax comes up again: this time it’s suggested it won’t be paid on time
  • A report is published to suggest that there are three “interested” parties in buying the club
  • An idiot with a beard says he’s at Bearwood and pretends he’s buying the club
  • The club release another statement, saying that Dai Yongge is - for the first time - publicly open to to selling the club. Not investments, actual sales
  • Staff are paid, which is celebrated like a last-minute Pavel Pogrebnyak winner
  • Some football might be played at some point over the weekend.

It’s not fun, is it? I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying it: I’m not dreading going into games with this team. I’m still excited to see them and so on, but it’s more the mood of sadness and anger and despair off the pitch that I’m finding hard.

Just seeing all those sad faces and no one laughing and just generally upset is horrible. It’s not fair. It shouldn’t happen. But it’s where we are and that acceptance in itself has been a slow death, like a bite from a Komodo dragon (Google it).

Dressing in black was apt, the protests were longer and bigger and, yet again, everyone played their part. I saw Mark Bowen briefly before the game and I just said to him to keep going, I was behind him (not that that means f*ck all) and that I was grateful to him. He just looked tired. And that goes for all of them really: every employee. I’m lucky in that I get to speak to them regularly and they are just first-class people in my opinion.

On the pitch, it wasn’t great. We were better in the second half attacking-wise and should have scored, but obviously didn’t. Burton Albion came for the draw and that was pretty evident from the 48th minute onward.

I saw some people saying that the delay in the first half was disruptive to the players which is complete nonsense because that’s suggesting that they were in a positive groove prior to the stoppage, which they weren’t. And I feel for them too, but these actions are necessary and will continue.

I’m still all in on this team, but it wasn’t a good one yesterday. Yes, it was a clean sheet and a defensively solid performance, but we need to find a way to break these type of teams down. With Northampton Town, Leyton Orient and then some jokers from Wiltshire up next, you’d hope that would give us at least a couple of opportunities to get some more points/wins on the board.

In the meantime, the off-field stuff will intensify until he’s out of the club. Let’s hope something can be struck before we slip into administration, but shifting this club will be a marathon, not a sprint.

Look after yourselves and see you soon.

Until next time.