So after 5 straight draws Reading finally managed to pick up 3 points against a Derby team that started the day 3 points ahead of the Royals but from all accounts it was a closely fought contest.
Sadly for me it was another away game I couldn’t get to but from what I’ve seen and heard it was a close game with Adam Federici yet again proving a big difference with several fine saves and keeping Reading in the game. Although many people are saying Madejski needs to back McDermott with a new striker and giving him money to spend I think the best bit of business Reading can do is to get Federici to sign a new contract – if he gets sold in January it would be a disaster and if his contract was allowed to run down and he left for free in the summer it would be an even bigger disaster. Keepers like Federici are a rare breed, yes his distribution isn’t the best and occasionally he makes mistakes (i.e. kicking the ball against Karacan against Nottingham Forest) but the number of top class saves he makes every game is vital to the team, a good defence is built on knowing they have a quality keeper behind them and bringing in McCarthy or Anderson would doubtlessly unsettle the defence.
It was a game that could have gone either way and ironically enough it was Shane Long, a player I frequently slate for not scoring enough goals, that proved the difference at the other end of the pitch. He won and scored a penalty, although it was a soft penalty, and then scored the winning goal with a nice header 2 mins from the end from a lovely McAnuff cross. Immediately people went on to the Radio joining Tim Della in saying that ‘Long has proved his critics wrong’ what a load of rubbish. He managed to scored his 2nd goal from open play all season – that is still not good enough for our supposed no 9 that leads the front line. Long is an incredibly hard working striker who will run himself in to the ground and put his body on the line but he still doesn’t score enough goals. If he carries this on and scores more and more goals from open play then fine but he won’t, he’ll go another 4 or 5 games without scoring and yet again the calls for a goal scoring striker will be heard from the fans once more. 6 goals in 20 appearances isn’t exactly what you’d call deadly – especially when 4 of those 6 have been scored from the penalty spot. Is Long Reading’s own Alan Smith? Only time can tell but I get the feeling his finishing isn’t going to dramatically improve over night but I do hope he proves me wrong and bangs the goals in for the rest of the season.
One thing to remember though is that the people praising Shane Long are more than likely the same fans who slag of Sir John Madejski who recently completed 20 years of service as Reading chairman. When Sir John took over in 1990 Reading were losing £20k a week and were languishing in the old division 2 (division 3 now) and now the club is pretty much breaking even and is established as a Championship side – but this doesn’t seem enough for some fans. Apparently helping the club being on a sound financial footing and being self sustaining isn’t good enough for some fans, they’d rather see the club throwing stupid amounts of money at players and trying to ‘chase the dream’. As clubs like Leeds, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Ipswich, Sheff Wed and Sheff Utd show the idea of throwing stupid amounts of money around and crippling your club doesn’t always work – I don’t want to see my club going through the same struggles these teams are going through. There is talk that Peter Ridsdale will become involved with Plymouth to try and help them, if Ridsdale ever got involved with Reading I would stop going, I wouldn’t want my money lining that mans pockets. Cardiff are another example and people forget how close they went to going bust (again partly due to Ridsdale) before Asian backers came in to save them and bankroll there adventure up the league. Over the years Madejski has dipped into his own pocket to help Reading and it amazes me how quickly fans forget all this. Right now with all the instability that a lot of football teams find themselves in I’m happy we have a responsible and sensible owner that isn’t prepared to toy with the future of the club – who knows where the club would be if it wasn’t for him, we could be in the 4th division still playing at Elm Park instead of being in the Championship and playing in a 24,000 modern stadium.
Right now Reading fans just need to accept that we aren’t in a position to throw around shed loads of money and we have to make do with what we have and maybe one or two loan/cheap signings. The long term future of the club is far more important than any ‘dream’ the fans think we should be chasing and keeping the club on a steady financial level is the most important thing right now, if we can keep sneaking wins against the teams around us like Derby than maybe a playoff place isn’t out of reach but draws at home to teams like Leeds and Coventry could end up being costly. I don’t think we will make the play offs this season but we are building towards a good future and this could pay off in the next few seasons.