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View From The Dolan: Reading’s Summer Renewal

With the Royals’ season over, Ben gives his take on where the club now stands ahead of a busy summer overhaul.

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That’s that, then. All our dreams in tatters, strewn across the lawn like feathers from a pigeon who didn’t last the night. When you don’t win any of your games for the last two and a half months, the writing is kind of on the wall, really.

Sitting watching Huddersfield Town play Sheffield United was a bizarre culmination of what has essentially been an absolute sh*t show for the best part of five years. Of course, it doesn’t make it any less embarrassing that we lost a cup final we didn’t actually play in and having another team mathematically relegate us was, to be frank, downright shameful.

I’ve seen a lot of people connected to the club (fans, players, overrated loanees, ex-players, journos etc) call it “heartbreaking”, “a shame” and my absolute favourite “unfair”. Unfair! You cannot run any organisation the way we’ve been run and not expect to collapse into the abyss.

Still, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Crack on. Luckily for me, I don’t pay for social media or I’d be asking for a refund. We are a week into what I’m convinced will be the longest summer of our lives as Reading fans, and we are yet to hear from anyone at the club in a position to speak. I’m hoping that they are so busy on the phone sorting out the manager and telling the absolute charlatans that have turned up for us this season to never, ever come back.

I’m also hoping we are developing our scouting network and that they are poring over hours of footage of players like Peter Brand does in the film of the real life baseball scenario ‘Moneyball’ (easily the best film ever made).

So, what comes next and in what order?

  • Retained/release list
  • Manager
  • Some decent comms from those who should be giving comms
  • A pre-season friendly against Real Madrid at the Whitley Bowl

Admittedly, those last two are much too far-fetched, but we can dream. Someone I hadn’t seen for a while asked me in the week if I was gutted about relegation. “No” I said, “I’m not”. And I’m really not. This is a chance for a rebirth, a proper shake-up. Not quite in the same way that Harchester United did when their coach exploded at the Millennium (now Principality) Stadium, in the popular television show “Dream Team”.

But there’s dead wood/rotting corpses at the club that need to be removed/exhumed. It’s a chance to really reset the dials, build on the initiatives started this year and get as many people onside as the club possibly can for next year and discover what this club was always built on once again. Of course, it’s so easy for an idiot with an award-winning column to just write a sentence like that with literally no substance, but you (hopefully) know what I mean.

This will only truly work though if the fare on the pitch is any good. People won’t mind paying £8.25 for a hot chocolate if we are top of the league and playing free-flowing football, but the years of abject performances, on and off the pitch, have understandably led to the nadir we currently find ourselves at.

I have suggestions that I’ll share with both the club and in this very column over the summer but for now I’ll continue to work on things I think will improve elements of our club (as much as I can in my capacity) whilst being realistic about how, when and if the club can actually implement them.

It just remains for me to say thank you for reading and watching anything I’ve done for this wonderful fan site this season. I will never, ever take for granted the opportunities I have been given by Sim and the togetherness that the writers and creators for TTE have. I feel very lucky to be able to do the things I do and I will always say what I think.

I love this football club, as many of you do, and that will never change. It will never leave me, I will never leave it and I will always try to help it, in any way I can. That doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing, of course it isn’t, but Reading Football Club is part of my very fabric.

Have a good summer, take care and I’ll see you soon.

Until next time.