On Saturday 17th September, we played Doncaster at home. Had we lost that game, we would have been bottom of the Championship. What a turn around. After Saturday’s superb result and performance at Upton Park, it now seems that automatic promotion is ours to lose.
It is an exciting time to be a Reading fan. The due diligence of the takeover by Anton Zingaravich is taking longer than expected to go through, but the club and particularly John Madejski seem confident that it will be completed soon. Therefore if we do go up, we may even see some money spent on boosting the squad and we can certainly expect our best players not to be sold to balance the books.
With the heartbreaking departures of premier league calibre players such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Shane Long over recent seasons, looking through the squad there are only a few players who jump out and shout “PREMIER LEAGUE”, despite the current form.
Everyone knows that the Premier League and Championship are massively different, and making the step from the Championship to becoming an established Premier League side is no mean feat.
So if the promotion dream is realised, would the current squad have enough about it to be competitive in the “Greatest League in the world”, or would Brian McDermott have to take full advantage of the Russian millions?
Looking through the squad, I see perhaps 3 or 4 players that could currently be comfortable in the Premier League, despite our fantastic run. Adam Federici has received deserved plaudits this season, and was the rightful winner of February’s Championship player of the month. Jem Karacan has come on in leaps and bounds over the last two seasons, and he will be playing in the Premier League sooner rather than later. Jimmy Kebe’s pace is electrifying, and when he’s on his game he is simply unplayable in this league, a bit of consistency and he is a top flight player. Jason Roberts has proved over his career that he is a Premier League footballer, and to get him to come down and play in the Championship was a real coup for the club. His form since his arrival has been outstanding.
It may seem therefore that despite a solid platform, a lot of work will need to be done to make this a premier league squad.
But not so fast.
The success of this team has been the solidity and reliability of the entire squad. Ian Harte is perhaps the best dead ball specialist outside the top flight; Kaspars Gorkss and Alex Pearce have rarely looked troubled this season. Noel Hunt is as industrious and hard working as any front man you will see. Our players work for each other and most importantly, work for Brian McDermott.
We have one of the highest number of U23’s in the league, and players such as Hal Robson-Kanu and Simon Church possess great potential.
I look at Norwich this season, and see how well they are doing after not having spent a great deal of money, even since their League 1 days. I feel that if we go up this season, clever money will have to be spent, but a drastic overhaul is by no means necessary.
Every Reading fan wants our club to become an established Premier League team. We were unable to beat the “second season syndrome” in our first voyage into the Prem, but with our current spine of players, mix of experience and youth, money and perhaps most importantly Brian McDermott, who knows what our club can achieve.