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Interview With An Away Fan: Reading FC

(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Getty Images

So tomorrow we tackle Reading away, probably the worst fixture we could have asked for at the moment. Injuries and suspensions galore and we'll be playing some squad players too.

Our opponents are flying at the moment and they're looking very dangerous to challenge for the title. They have some dangerous players and can play some great football.

Ahead of the game I spoke to Ben Barker a Reading fan and blogger at Reading offside. Questions and answers are after the Jump!

Last time we spoke you said you were proud of 10th, let me guess you're ecstatic with life at the moment?

Haha, well that was way back in December and we actually made it into the playoffs for the first time just two weeks later. At the time, considering the summer we had and the disappointment of last May I think plenty of fans would have taken tenth, but yeah you're quite right, to be in second is unbelievable. It looks like this team of lads has no limits.

You’re 2nd in the table and two points behind the leaders. I and many others link you could win it, but what do you Royals think?

I'm not letting myself get too excited just yet, we've got a tough last six games, one of which is going to St. Mary's, so I'm trying to keep level headed. West Ham have some great players so you can't rule them out with six left. That having been said, we're very much in the driving seat now, and if we can get some decent results in these last games and get automatic promotion it'll have been a monumental effort from the team.

Brian McDermott has really grown on me this season. Seems like a level headed guy who knows what he's doing, are the fans in awe of him at present?

He's absolutely the right guy for the job. When Brendan Rodgers was sacked it was unfortunate because you only have to look at Swansea to see what he's capable of, he was at the right club here but at the wrong time. Brian was promoted from his Chief Scout role and I was pretty sceptical about the appointment like many others were.

He's worked wonders though, the relationship he has with the players is second to none, and I think he's totally respected throughout the club.

He's been at the club for over 2 years now, and since the end to 09/10 we've been singing his praises. He's down to earth, a good sense of humour and has a huge passion for football so it's good to see he's getting the outside recognition he deserves.

Last time we spoke you'd just beaten West Ham, obviously now same again. Doing the double over them is obviously a shock to some, but has the win at the weekend instilled the belief that maybe you could win the entire thing?

I think that was probably our make or break game of the season. To go to Upton Park with a handful of games left with them just a point behind is pretty ominous, but to score 4 goals is huge. I think we're one of just three clubs to have done that in five years, along with Man United and Chelsea so it's pretty special. That win has opened people's eyes to us, and I think people outside the Championship are finally paying attention and realising that we might upset the 'certainty' that West Ham and Southampton would be the two to go up. It all comes down to St. Mary's in a week's time. Lose there and West Ham are right back in it.

Last year you had a late surge, this year you have what is all this about, you seem to know how to time it to perfection?

In the three seasons that Brian's been in charge we've put together three decent runs. He took us from relegation threatened at Christmas to 9th, then 12th in February to 5th last year, and this season we've won 13 of our last 15. If we could maintain that form throughout the season we may be home and dry by now but I'm certainly not complaining. Again, I think it's down to the relationship between Brian and the players. They know how to win games.

If you do go up, do you think you could stay there and will the funds be available for McDermott?

The last time we went up we managed to finish 8th in our first season in the Prem (06/07), just one point off Europe. I don't think we'd get anywhere near that now, there's more team's competing at the top end of the table. I do think you just have to look at the likes of Norwich and Swansea for inspiration though. They bought sensibly and have stuck to their principles and it's doing them a world of good.

QPR didn't do that, and I can see them going down. There would be funds for McDermott thanks to an imminent Russian takeover by Anton Zingarevich, however I still think the club would be prudent, and stick with the team that got us up there in the first place, and just add strength to the necessary areas.

What's Alex McCarthy's situation at present? Could he leave and join us if you go up? Please?

We recalled McCarthy from Ipswich last week after our other reserve keeper Andersen injured himself. If you'd asked me in January I'd have said no way. Alex and Mikkel both got new contracts, but Adam Federici didn't. But frankly, Feds has been playing out of his skin this season, and he got my vote for our player of the season. I'm not sure how the club are going to juggle three top 'keepers around, but I'd like to see Alex stay with us, sorry!

We always want to know about old players, so how is Ian Harte doing?

When I last spoke to you I think I called him utter shite. It might have been a bit premature, because he's been back in the frame for a while now. He's got his head back on the right way round and is coping better with the defensive side of things. He's still banging in goals and making assists so that's always good. He's out of contract in the summer but I expect he'll be given a new deal.

Just how important has Jason Roberts been to the side?

He's been the catalyst for this form. He's 34 years old but there seems to be a new found belief in the team with him about. He's great with the younger guys and seems like a genuinely nice bloke. He's still got some skills too, scoring something like 5 in 12. He holds up play, he's not afraid to shoot and also still has a fair bit of pace on him. He's brought the best out of Noel Hunt too.

Who do Leeds fans need to watch out for on Friday?

If he's fit, Karacan has been excellent in the middle of the park. He took a blow to head last Saturday though. Leigertwood next to him has also been decent, but you can't look past Roberts and Hunt up top.

What formation do you expect to field?

4-4-2 with high wingers in McAnuff and Kebe.

Prediction for the match?

From what I'm reading your squad isn't too strong for this one, so I've got to go 3-1 to us.

Big thanks to Ben for his insight into the Royals. His prediction is probably going to be spot on but lets try think positive...if that is possible.