Back to School for Clarets?-by TMP
This was a story of the 'Three Rs' in my opinion, no not Reading,'Riting and 'Rithmatic but Reading, Ricketts and Regret! Maybe however we need to ask whether the Club do need to go back to school after yet another defeat and no win now in 4 matches!
I could not make this match for reasons I will explain later so will have to base my comments on the football match commentary I heard on Clarets World.
There is no doubt in my mind however that the Royals were fully deserving of this victory. It is easy to see why this club are looking odds on certainties to be Champions.
I suppose to be fair to the Clarets it sounded like we played more of a passing game in this match and for once did not seem to rely on simply hoofing the ball up front. It also seemed to me that we had far more of the possession. The class from Reading however shone through and they simply soaked up all the pressure and scored at crucial times in the few attacks they seemed to be able to string together without needing to break sweat.
A killer first goal by Bobby Convey in the first half after only 10 minutes was hard for the Clarets to take but to give them credit they continued to battle well with Spicer and McCann on the flanks supporting full debut boy, Kyle Lafferty well up front. Michael Duff was also battling in an unfamiliar position, partnering Kyle in a strange 4:4:2 formation forced upon the club by the absence of both Gifton Noel-Williams and Michael Ricketts [ill?]. Branch was also injured and its difficult to know whether the enforced changes to the team and the unusual line-up contributed to another defeat.
The end of the first half ended in tragedy for Reading on 45 minutes when a serious injury to Leroy Lita led to him being stetchered off. It has been confirmed since he has a broken ankle and that he will miss the rest of the season. The Clarets fans wish him a speedy recovery
Two former Clarets were also on show in this game, with John Oster starting the match with Glen Little on the bench! Glen replaced Oster in the second half on 52 minutes and its typical that he was involved in their second goal with only 55 minutes on the clock! His cross being headed by Sonko to further rub it in with both their goals coming on the 10th minute from the start of each half! Little has not been on the losing side since the first home game against Plymouth and so it proved again although this time he did pick up an injury and left the field with about 8 minutes to go
That second goal was the killer punch and the Clarets struggled after that although still managed to show flashes of good play. Just to rub it in, Reading got a third in added time with Kitson who had replaced Lita placing a left footed shot into the net from about six yards
The first shock of the day came with the news that Michael Ricketts was not playing. Phil Bird might regret me saying this, but Clarets World do leave their radio on a lot before the game starts and interesting stuff can be revealed! I first heard via that route about 2 pm that Ricketts wouldnt be playing. He was apparantly ill but the rumours soon started flying that he had left the ground about 1:30pm and that maybe he had returned to Leeds! No announcements have been made and we wait to hear whats happening!
We should remember the criticism that Steve gave Ricketts after the Coventry game about not chasing 'lost causes' enough. Has this fuelled the fire between manager and player? Lets hope like me, he just has the flu!
The fact he was not playing plus the fact that Gifton Noel-Williams was also absent and Branch was injured led to some radical changes to the team line-up as discussed previously.
The one really positive thing to come out of all this was that Lafferty, playing his first full match, was consistently showing promise and had some good shots on goal. Well done Kyle!
I was supposed to make the three hour journey from Cambridgeshire to this match and had already arranged to pick up a ticket that had been bought for me by a mate. However, I came down with some lurgy and have been miserably been feeling sorry for myself wearing three wooly jumpers, my Clarets hat and downing about three packets of Lemsip since. I think I caught a chill at the Ricoh from the howling gales blowing up my trouser legs and it wouldnt have been a good idea to risk going to snow-bound Burnley even if I felt up to it!
The question is do I regret not being able to go? I suppose if we had won, I might have felt a pang but to be honest I am almost glad I didnt go and this is a torrid time to be a Claret.
The biggest regret in my mind now though is the Club selling Ade. Yes, we are told its a marvellous business deal and maybe it is and we shall see the benefits come the Summer!
By hell though its been a terrible entertainment deal for the fans and I just wonder what the Club can pull out the bag now and what PR spin they will put on us all to try and get us to buy Season Tickets for 2006/7!
If the last two seasons have been anything to go by, they may as well try half-season tickets since for the last two years the season has been over in January!
Yes, a terrible time to be a Claret but we have been here before and survived. I just want something more though than survival and midtable mediocrity. Somehow the viscious circle of pleading poverty/poor entertainment/ falling gates will eventually need to be broken if we are ever to return to a situation where the club can guarantee its prime reason for existing.This I would define as giving the fans a sign they mean business and can ensure season long entertainment with some glimmer of hope of becoming a Top 10 club and hence some chance of reaching the play-offs if not automatic promotion?
Is it too much to ask? If it is maybe the Club do need to go back to school and learn again the 'Three Rs'-Read what the fans want, write down better PR and do the arithmatic better with more creative accounting and taking some calculated risks!