Reading the Riot Act at Reading
By Rob Nichols
Friday 21 Dec 2018 09:51:00
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Can Boro start on the road to recovery at Reading? Another long trip south just before Christmas for fans desperately short on confidence after the midweek crushing cup defeat at home to Burton. But could Boro players and fans alike start to rebuild some trust and direction at the home of the former Biscuitmen? We are still sixth in the league. Can we halt the slide and make a stand? Kick off at the Madejski Stadium is 3pm Saturday.

Boro travel south to take on the Royals of Reading. A second journey to the Thames in eight days. This time we need to put on a far better performance than a second half at Loftus Road spent largely just lofting the ball forward, hit and hope. Fans as well as players are desperately short on belief at the moment. The defeat at home to Burton has knocked the stuffing out of everyone. What had been a really positive diversion from the slog of the league ended in a desperately demoralising home defeat. We now must pull ourselves together and get on with getting on again. We are good enough to beat Reading and then Sheffield Wednesday. We must make that count for something by taking points and starting off on a road to recovery again. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for transfer window salvation we must respond right here and now and fight back.

It will seem a long way back if we flounder at Reading. Obviously it is a long journey back to make just before Christmas. Twelve months ago Garry Monk's Boro side came back from behind to defeat Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. The aftermath of the match was even more incredible than the match with both managers being dismissed. Reading have already parted company with Paul Clement. Many at Boro are calling for the head of Tony Pulis. I really would not want to see history repeated again. Unless you are Chelsea or the freak of nature that is Watford a club that sacks its manager every year is going nowhere but a course currently being chronicled on Netflix by Blunderland... sorry Sunderland.

Chelsea and Watford operate in a different way with the managers being head coaches and the club continuing a transfer police and direction. Tony Pulis came in to oversee a reappraisal of our direction as a football club. Let's hope he can summon all his experience to rediscover our path in an upward trajectory again.

I do not buy into the idea that players are not trying. They may hide from a ball that has become a hot potato when confidence is low and everyone is screaming from the stands as minutes slip away against a plucky Burton. Mo Besic was quite wrong to sit in a pre match press conference and say we would win because we were the better side. He talked about learning lessons from a red card and several bad results. He must eat humble pie and along with the rest of the team roll up their sleeves and come out fighting.

But more than that we must not let effort get in the way of enterprise. They must not feel afraid or inhibited to be creative. Last Saturday Stewart Downing often cut a frustrated figure as time and again the ball sailed over his head only to be cleared away by a referee-assisted QPR backline. I cannot believe that was the manager's orders because when we were on such a good run earlier in the season so much of our play flowed through Downing or Lewis Wing.

The players must keep shape and discipline. The fans once screamed at Bernie Slaven to chase the ball but he was under strict instructions from Bruce Rioch to stick to the left. Under Jack Charlton supporters would get frustrated that they weren't seeing the jinking skills of Eric McMordie yet the sublime passing of Bobby Murdoch powered us forward towards the Championship. The team must come first. Players have always played “out of position” for the shape of the team.

We have the craft and we deserve to see the graft to give the Royals a right royal dressing down this weekend. We will need to be united as fans and players but I know that will be the case. George Friend might struggle at times but he will never hide away from giving everything on the pitch or applauding our fans, even if they are returning his clapping with V signs. You have to admire that I think. That is the spirit that we want in our captain and that is the spirit that ultimately carries you through these dark times. Amazingly, we are still sixth in the league and not sixth from bottom. Let's show everyone that we are there on merit, dig in and start to create and put those chances away again. The fans are hurting, the players must be hurting. Let's see a reaction. Let's start the fight back at Reading.

Come On Boro and Up The Boro

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