It’s a mark of the success of Viva Rovers that other bloggers and writers out there are now queueing up to be a part of our site. Well, I say queueing up, by that I mean occasionally emailing us. And by occasionally, I mean once. Still, at least the email that did arrive came from football blogging royalty. Rob Langham, one half of the duo behind the excellent Football League site The Two Unfortunates got in touch to offer his services in the lead up to Rovers match with Rob’s beloved Reading, and we naturally jumped at his offer. So here for your enjoyment are Rob’s thoughts in third edition of our renamed feature ‘T’Other Side u’t’ Fence.
website: The Two Unfortunates
Stand of choice at Elm Park / The Madejski: South Bank/East Stand
Firstly, the big question; Reading’s nickname. Should it be The Royals or The Biscuitmen?
I’m possibly in a minority here but the switch away from the Biscuitmen was a sad day for the club, even if it happened a couple of years before the first match I attended in the mid Seventies. I’m no fan of the royal family to put it mildly.
How do you feel about Saturday’s game?
A little uneasy. Reading have been something of a bogey club for Donny since the Yorkshire club were promoted to this level and have won on their last two visits to the Keepmoat. Yet, I don’t feel that this dominance of the fixture is a reflection of the abilities of the two sides: I think the talent pool is very even and the law of averages tells me Doncaster may be due a win.
We’re approximately half-way through the Championship campaign, how do you view Reading’s season so far?
Ideal, because very few games have been lost and yet Reading don’t look quite good enough to go up – a relief because promotion would be suicidal both financially and in playing terms. The team have been competitive against all comers and have chalked up some impressive wins and performances including a 4-0 win at Burnley and a routine defeat of West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup. All this said, losing Gylfi Sigurðsson early on was disappointing even if £6.5 million was an unrefusable offer.
Where do you think this Reading team is strongest?
Jimmy Kébé and Jobi McAnuff are a handful on the flanks and there is a fair amount of pace throughout the team. In recent weeks, Alex Pearce and a player Donny fans will know well, Matt Mills, have formed a very worthy partnership at centre back.
What do you view the weak point of Reading as being?
There are few glaring weaknesses although Ian Harte and Andy Griffin lack pace at full back (they are top class players in other respects). The forward line has been unreliable until the past few weeks but Shane Long is enjoying an extended purple patch. I still think goalkeeper Adam Federici could command his box more.
Who is the key player the Rovers should be daunted by?
Kébé has scorching pace and can swiftly transform a defensive rearguard into an attacking situation down the right.
Which Doncaster player are you most wary of?
Billy Sharp is a dangerous poacher and James Coppinger is always perky against us – the ball often seems attached to his feet and I’d worry he may be too tricky for Harte.
Who is Reading’s current team scapegoat?
If you had asked me eighteen months ago, it would have been Kébé which just shows how deeply wrong football fans can be. Now, it’s ex-Blade Brian Howard about whom I wrote this very exasperated piece for Barnsley blog On the Ponty End recently.
Are you happy with Brian McDermott?
Delighted. I’m proud to have an understated, modest manager who has had a heart warming first year in charge. He’s a master of the tactical substitution and is unlikely to be costing us much money in wages. Quickly becoming a legend.
Song or chant to listen out for?
Reading fans are not the most creative but the Terry and June theme tune gets an occasional airing, albeit a very ham-fisted one.
Finally, match prediction?
An honourable 1-1 draw.
By way of balance we recently contributed to The Two Unfortunates as part of their enjoyable Great Football League Teams series. Here’s our piece on the title-winning relegation-favourite Doncaster Rovers side of 2003-04.