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Interview with an away fan: Reading Offside

For this weeks interview with an away fan, I had the pleasure of asking Ben Parker from Reading Offside a few questions ahead of our game on Friday.

When we played you in November, it was boring 0 - 0 draw, you're now fighting for promotion, what has changed at the the Royals?

During that time, we were drawing a lot of games, and the team were still gelling to be honest. We'd come off the back of draws against Cardiff, Norwich and Watford who were all up there at the top. Since then, we've just been stringing the wins together, and the team spirit is really high. I can't put my finger on one reason why we're flying up the table, but I don't want it to end!

Reading sit 4th in the Championship, and are three points off the automatic places, where do you think you will finish this season?

It's difficult to predict, knowing the unpredictability of the Championship. I think if we can get a result against you lot on Friday, we'll really have some momentum going into the run in. I'd love for us to finish in the automatics, but Norwich and Cardiff both look strong and have done all season, so I'd be more than happy with a play-off spot.

What formation will you be fielding on Friday, and how will Reading be approaching this game?

We'll most likely start in a 4-4-2, we rely on our wingers, much like Leeds, so we'll be trying to set out to meet you in every position on the park. In terms of approach, Brian McDermott likes to keep his cards to his chest, and he'll know what to expect from Leeds. We'll probably try and play a more defensive game, looking to break on the counters at Elland Road.

Brian McDermott has got Reading climbing up the table, who do you prefer Mr McDermott or Steve Coppell?

You can't ask me that! Haha! Steve Coppell has gone down in folklore at the club, y'know, we won the league with the record points, and finished one place off Europe in our first season in the Prem. He was unlucky not to get us straight back up after our relegation, and it's sad that he's retired now. But Brian McDermott's been at the club for years and years, so I'm glad he's finally got a chance at the helm. He's got the team in great spirits, and got us to the FA Cup Quarters twice running. When he picked up the reins 2 years ago we were near relegation, and he got us to 9th. Now, we could be promoted. They're both legends! I'm sitting on the fence, sorry.

Shane Long has managed to bag 23 goals this campaign, are you confident he will be staying at the Madejski?

He's been amazing this season. If we go up, maybe he'll stay. If not, he's off. Sir John's not the kind of chairman to be offering huge salaries to keep players.

Ex - United player Ian Harte was wanted by several Leeds fans in the summer, how influential has he been this year?

We sold our 20 goal midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson right at the end of the transfer window for a large sum, and I was a little gutted that we got Ian to replace him, but he's proved me wrong. He's become the number one left-back at the club, and at 10 goals this season I can't be complaining. When he's stood over a freekick you're always confident, and he cost something like 50k, which is mad.

Apart from Shane Long who do Leeds need to fear on Friday?

You can't look past Jimmy Kebe to be honest. Just watch his performance against Leicester last Saturday and you'll see his pace and footwork. He's been integral on the right side this year, and he'll definitely give the Leeds defence something to think about. Other than that, Mikele Leigertwood in the middle of the park, he's our Essien.

What will the travelling Reading fans be like inside Elland Road?

We should be loud and proud, especially because of the importance of the fixture, but Elland Road is a fearsome place to go to. Our fans always get behind the boys, and I think we've got around 1,000 going.

If you could sign any Leeds player, who would it be?

Haha! For me, Max Gradel. He's my kind of player- quick, light-footed, and a good shot.

Prediction for the match?

Gotta go with 2-1 to the Royals!