Monday, 24 March 2014

The Reading View

Before Birmingham's match against Reading on Saturday, I interviewed opposition fan Dan Wimbush. He has been going down to Reading matches since 1995, and writes a blog on the Royals:
You can also follow the blog on Twitter @TheTilehurstEnd
Here, Dan discusses Birmingham and Reading's promotion and relegation battles together in the last few years, the Berkshire club's ownership situation, and he backs his side to record a win today.

How would you assess Reading’s season so far?
To use a cliché it's been a bit of a roller-coaster as we've swerved from lethal to lethargic, sublime to silly and powerful to pathetic on an almost weekly basis. Nigel Adkins has done his best but faced with an ownership crisis and an injury list as long as your arm it's not been easy to get any sort of consistency together and with that in mind, hanging around the top six for the majority of the season is a decent effort.

Your lot strike me as the type of unpredictable team which can hit four or five goals one week, and not turn up the next. Is more consistency required?
Absolutely, but truth be told there's been more of a pattern emerging in recent weeks which must be glaringly obvious to those charged with studying us each week. If you come at Reading we've got the players to punish you on the break, quick pacy wingers and strikers that generally take their chances. However, if you sit deep and force Reading to try and break you down, we're often clueless and have no idea how to go about things. I'd like to think we're learning our lessons but sadly we're running out of time....

Alex McCarthy looks like a talented keeper. Has he got potential to get into the England setup?
Alex McCarthy
Very much so, although he's perhaps not quite ready yet. He went with the squad for last summer's friendly matches after a stunning end to our doomed Premier League campaign and started this season as one of our most consistent performers. His shot stopping is up there with any keeper we've ever had, perhaps only rivalled by Shaka Hislop but he's still got some work to do with his kicking and with the ball at his feet if he's truly to take on the likes of Joe Hart. Just recently he's been through a shaky spell so it'll be interesting to see how he copes with a downturn in his own form, fingers crossed the clean sheet against Derby has gone some way to calm those nerves.

Gareth McCleary is one of the top assisters in the Championship. Would you agree he’s your main creative outlet? Anyone else to keep an eye on?
Like any winger he blows hot and cold but when he's good he's great and a real force in this division, with plenty of assists and a few stunners of his own from outside the penalty area. Otherwise right now we're finally seeing glimpses of why Royston Drenthe played for Real Madrid and with two goals in three games, we're hoping he can be that man to unlock a defence that does sit back and try to play deep. Adam Le Fondre is one of those players that just pops up with goals out of nowhere while keep an eye out for young full-back Jordan Obita who is really growing into the role after coming through the ranks as a midfielder.

2008 - Murphy's goal consigned Blues & Reading to relegation
My team, Birmingham, have been in a couple of promotion and relegation battles alongside you in the last few years. 07-08, we both went down on the final day despite winning both our games comfortably. A bad day for both of us…

Yeah, I couldn't help but notice Danny Murphy eulogising on the BBC website about how to survive the drop after he scored that goal against Pompey to send us both down, while making no mention of how nice it was to be facing a Portsmouth side on the beach and put together out of I.O.U's. Reading should have never been relegated that season but mistakes in the transfer market and our previously all conquering side suddenly taking their eye off the ball led to a downfall we can only really blame on ourselves. I imagine you look at your 2010/11 relegation season in much the same way!

The season after that, we pipped you to promotion by winning at your place on the last day. Towards the end it was a bit nerve-wracking for us – did you feel you could have nicked it?
2009 - Blues promoted at Reading's expense
Again, could have and should have done it easily. Reading didn't win a home game after January 27th and just one win against the likes of Bristol City, Ipswich, Preston or Barnsley would have made that final game academic. As a result it wasn't really nerve-wracking for Reading fans, more a continued sense of disappointment and accepting the inevitable end of a Steve Coppell era that had just totally run out of steam. It's never nice seeing away fans going ballistic on your own patch and we had to deal with that twice in two weeks as Owen Coyle's side took us apart in the play-offs on their way to promotion. Still, we had our own party a couple of years ago at your place so I guess it's even now!

What are your thoughts on your ownership situation at the moment?
It's a shambles but it could be worse as I'm sure you'll point out! Our Russian owner has disappeared and now we're back in the steady but financially limited hands of Sir John Madejski who is doing his best to keep us ticking along. Our lack of funds has been highlighted by the fact we haven't made a single signing since October and can't even afford to loan in a player despite a chronic lack of strikers. I'd like to think we're an attractive club to buy with a fantastic academy, good stadium and big catchment area but until someone makes a bid and more importantly proves they've got our best interest at heart, it's a nervous time.

Nigel Adkins
Nigel Adkins has a decent track record – do you think he’ll take you into the Premier League?
Again I think that's going to depend on how the ownership situation plays out. He's basically working with Brian McDermott's team which didn't exactly play in Nigel Adkins' style and his early attempts to get them to play a more passing style didn't go particularly well. If he was allowed to reshape the squad I'd be a lot more optimistic but right now I'd still say we're more likely to stay down than go up.

And finally, your prediction for Saturday…

We've got one of the league's best away records and you've got one of the worst home records so my head says it should be a comfortable win for Reading. With that being said, Reading have developed a reputation for helping teams lose their bad streaks so who knows? I guess I'll stick with my head and say 3-1 Reading but little would shock me at the weekend.

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