Reading FC, around this time last year were fading into mediocrity after the club’s most historic ten years ever.
The memories of the bright lights of Old Trafford, The Emirates and Stamford Bridge were merely distant and dwindling.
The season lulled to a disappointing end, leaving many Royals far from optimistic for the season ahead.
This was further highlighted by the sacking of the last man who took us up – Brian McDermott.
FourFourTwo tipped us to narrowly avoid relegation, and personally I would’ve snatched at the opportunity to remain in the Championship come the end of this season.
Then came the date of the 13th of June, where Jaap Stam was appointed as Reading manager. Hmm, Jaap Stam.
This was a manager with no real experience at the helm.
Will he know how to win games?
How will we play?
Who will we sign?
Questions which loitered in the mind of many fans’ heads for days after the appointment.
Stam, however immediately seized the initiative, signing many players from his home country, to coin a cliche, a real mix of flair, passion, hardwork and teamwork was seemingly being unravelled in Berkshire.
The season kicked off, we won a few games.
Fortunately for the club an early run of form slipped kindly under the media’s radar.
This meant that seemingly every team we played there was no huge pressure to win and so no weight on the shoulders of pivotal players like John Swift, Roy Beerens and the like – there was a freedom to our play.
This meant momentum gained, and before we knew it, we’d challenged against some excellent teams in this division.
Finally – and perhaps the most important factor – the old cliche of team spirit and mainly bouncebackability.
A crushing 5-0 defeat to Fulham at the hands of a brilliant side, many teams then could’ve capitulated.
The very next week we played play-off rivals Sheffield Wednesday and ground out a result.
But perhaps even better most recently, 2-0 down at Bristol City in the 72nd minute only to win 3-2.
Sensational togetherness had been found at the Madejski for the first time since our last promotion.
In short, the Reading revival can be put down to signings, brand of play and togetherness amongst the squad.
It’s been an enthralling first half of the season for us and here’s to the next.
Royals fans…. How happy have you been with this season so far? Can you get promotion? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!