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Fan Focus: Reading What Reading Have To Say

Adam Le Fondre could be a key element in this weekends game.
Adam Le Fondre could be a key element in this weekends game.

Welcome back to another Fan Focus, the feature where you really know that the match is just around the corner.

As ever, we've got in touch with fans of our future opponents, to see what they have to say about the game on Saturday, a little about their transfer dealings, and how they see their (and our) season going.

So, we're delighted to welcome The Tilehurst End along to Roker Report. They, like us, reside on SB Nation, and suggest that anyone with any desire to know anything about Reading FC goes to their site, now.

Without further ado, let's hear what they've got to say...

So, Reading, it's nice to have you back. What have you made of your summer activity in the transfer market?

The Tilehurst End: I think the majority of Reading fans have been pretty happy with the dealings so far. Of the six major signings we've made, five have Premier League experience, two were players of the season for their old clubs and another was one of the stars of the second half of the PL season last year. Brian McDermott has spent wisely and we now have two players for every position in the squad, something that's going to prove vital over a tough Premier League season.

The only area some fans are still hoping for activity is up front, as there remain question marks over whether the likes of Noel Hunt, Simon Church, Jason Roberts will be of good enough quality to support our main front pairing of Pogrebnyak and Le Fondre. We've been linked with a host of names from Jermain Defoe to Jordan Rhodes and even a return to the club for Shane Long, so I wouldn't be shocked if we make a move on deadline day.

Do you think that your squad is now in a better position to survive than last time?

THE: Our relegation last time shouldn't have happened, as the squad was more than capable of staying up, but just shot itself in the foot in key six-pointers. The squad that went down contained 10 of the 11 starters that saw us finish 8th the season before, and many who had won the Championship with a record 106 points, so to see them fall of a cliff in such a short space of time was galling.

I think that a fully flying 2007/08 squad would still edge out this one, but there's a lot more team spirit and a bit more depth to this current crop than the 2008 model.

Your manager always comes across as an impressive character. Is he the right man for the job?

THE: 100% Yes. To take a side that Brendan Rodgers left hanging above the relegation zone and transform them into a top 10 side who reached an FA Cup Quarter-Final inside six months was impressive enough but to repeat the trick in the cup the following year AND get to Wembley for a play-off final was even more of an achievement. Brian then had to rebuild the side after losing our captain Matt Mills and top scorer Shane Long and with subtle tweaks and the addition of Jason Roberts, took us to a Championship even the most optimistic of fans wouldn't have expected.

A point on the opening day against Stoke shouldn't be sniffed at. How did that game go?

THE: You can never be totally unhappy with a point but it was a game that was there for the taking, Stoke were pretty average but we were hardly impressive either. Our game plan over the last 18 months has been to contain the opposition and then to break out and nick a goal, but that plan is always harder to pull off when you go a goal down, especially at home. The goal Stoke scored was a fluke and uncharacteristic for Adam Federici who was immense last season, he won't let it get to him and I'll expect he'll win us plenty of points over the season. As for our goal, it took a great little cameo from new winger Garath McCleary to win the penalty and credit to Adam Le Fondre for keeping his nerve and slotting home.

Ex-Sunderland man Ian Harte's legs are still going. Is he a key player in your team?

THE: When we sold Gylfi Sigurdsson we lost our key set piece taker and that's one reason Brian turned to Harte two years ago. Since then he's won us plenty of points with his free-kicks and set pieces and he's one of our best goal providers even at this stage in his career. Defensively he's not elite, his pace is always a concern but then again he's never had much of it so it's not as great a flaw as you might think. His positioning has gotten steadily better since he's been back playing at a decent level and he looked fine against Stoke on Saturday. In the summer we signed Nicky Shorey who's a bit more mobile and almost as experienced as Harte so if we do play a team with a lot of pace down the right you might just see Shorey slot in.

What do you make of Sunderland this year? How do you think we'll do?

THE: Sunderland are always an impossible team to predict! You guys go from amazing wins at places like Stamford Bridge to losing at home to Wigan and you're one team I try and avoid if I'm doing an accumulator. However with a full season in front of him, hopefully Martin O'Neill can get a bit more consistency from what remains a talented squad that's easily capable of finishing in the top 12. Saturday's point at Arsenal was a great result and I like the blend of youth and experience you've now got in your squad. Conor Wickham was with us as a youngster before his family left the area and it's great to see him doing so well, while players like Saha and Larsson have been there and done it for a while now and know how to get results.

On to the match itself, who should we be wary of in your team?

THE: Pavel Pogrebnyak is the one name most opposition fans look to, but keep an eye Danny Guthrie in the middle who's impressed in his brief time with the club, as well as wingers Garath McCleary and Jobi McAnuff who are both capable of hurting opposition defences.

And, along the same lines, do we have anyone that you aren't looking forward to facing? Do you have any weak links that we should be looking to exploit?

THE: We came very close to nabbing James McCLean last year until you guys swooped in and with Harte's lack of pace I do worry that he might hurt us if he's in full flow and employed down the right wing. Reading conceded plenty of goals from set pieces last year and given that you've got one of the Premier League's best takers in Seb Larsson that will also be an area we'll be worried about at the weekend.

What are your goals for the season? Survival? Mid table?

THE: Cliched as it sounds, anywhere above 18th is the one and only true aim for this season. With the new TV deal survival has never been so valuable, and if we can finish the year out of the bottom three we'll all be delighted.

And how do you see Sunderland doing?

THE: Like I said, you've easily got the talent to finish in the top 12, and I'd back Mr O'Neill to have you guys inside the top 10 with a bit of luck."

And, finally, can I trouble you for a prediction for this weekend's game?

THE: Reading's style of play suits them more away from hom,e and we'll go to the Stadium of Light looking for all three points. I'm going to stick my neck out and be bold and say Reading will sneak a 2-1 win with a goal in the last five minutes.


Thanks to The Tilehurst End for answering our questions, I wish them all the best this season (apart from their games against us, obviously.

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