Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday January 10 2008
1) So, how has the season been, did you expect it to be this tough in the second season up?
Given our lack of signings in the summer, I did expect this to be a very difficult season. We lost two of our best players, Steve Sidwell to Chelsea and Glen Little to injury, meaning our side is actually weaker now than it was when we got promoted.
With those factors taken into account, our season has actually been a lot better than it could have been. We’ve had a few freak results, Portsmouth and Spurs away in particular, but we are still relatively safe in comparison to what could have been. People talk about second season syndrome, but I don’t think we’re struggling because teams have found us out, it’s simply because we have lost two key players and failed to replace them.
2) Steve Coppell, the man for Reading or do you think he will look to move onwards and upwards at some point? Would you have picked him for the England job?
Steve has done a fantastic job for us and is undoubtedly the most successful manager in our history. When he does leave, I don’t think it will be for a better job, I just think he’ll want to take some time out, as he has said previously. Hopefully this will be later rather than sooner, but you never know in football.
Taking into account the fantastic job he has done, not just at Reading, but at every club he’s been at (with the exception of his very brief stint at Man City) I certainly think he should have been considered for the England job. I was disappointed that neither he nor Harry Redknapp even got interviewed for the position. Whilst he certainly has the ability to manage England, I think his personality could have been a problem. He is by no means animated, and his lack of emotion could easily have had the fickle fans of England turning on him if things weren’t going well.
3) We have been linked with Kevin Doyle, does that surprise you and would you be sorry to see him go? If he goes, what do you think he is worth?
It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest as you were linked with him this time last year. I don’t believe for a second he will be leaving, but should the unthinkable happen I would be sorry to see him go. With today’s prices I think it would take a bid of at least £7.5mill to get him, having said that he is a lot better than Darren Bent, so £16mill will do nicely thanks.
4) Who should we look out for on Saturday?
Everyone thinks Kevin Doyle is our main threat, but they are sadly mistaken. In my humble opinion, Dave Kitson is a much better player than Doyle and it won’t belong before he gets an England call up for a meaningless friendly. Kitson has great feet for a big man and his vision his superb. He’s good in the air and his finishing isn’t half bad either. He’s the closest thing we’ve got to a complete player.
5) Who in the Villa team are you most wary of?
My main concern is the pace of Agbonlahor and Young. We haven’t got the quickest defence in the world and we’re going to have to be very careful going forward as they will cause us a lot of problems on the break.
6) Realistically what do you expect from Reading as a club?
Realistically I expect Reading to establish themselves as a Premier League club over the next three or four seasons and then hopefully push on to challenge for a spot in Europe. In order to do this they need to start acting like a Premier League club. The wage structure needs to be changed to keep our best players and to attract better players. The chairman has openly said he will be willing to sell the club if an adequate offer comes in and I believe that is exactly what the club needs in order to progress.
7) What is your prediction for the game?
As you’ve probably noticed we’ve been pretty rubbish away this season, having said that we are slowly improving. As long as we don’t concede a silly early goal we have every chance of sneaking a win, although I’ll be happy with a draw. I’m going for one all and Hunt to miss a last minute penalty.
With thanks to Chris Kitley from Vital Reading
Date:Thursday January 10 2008
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