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You are in: Berkshire > Local radio > Sport > 'Failing miserably would be unforgivable'

Steve Coppell

Steve Coppell during Reading v Spurs

'Failing miserably would be unforgivable'

With the threat of relegation still darkening Reading FC's doorstep, BBC Radio Berkshire's Tim Dellor analyses the team's relegation battle. You can have your say below.

What must not happen this Sunday is Fulham lose to Portsmouth, and yet Reading still go down.

Reading v Fulham

Will Reading fail heroically?

If they are given a chance of survival they must take it. Failing heroically would be forgivable, almost admirable. We Brits love a plucky loser.

Failing miserably would be unforgivable, and would see coaches, players and fans plunged into a summer gloom.

Beating Derby ought to be straightforward enough, but the frightening statistic is no goals in nine hours and 11 minutes of football.

"To say it is the most important game in the club’s history is not exaggeration."

Tim Dellor

Six games without hitting the back of the net is real cause for concern, and means regardless of the opposition you are unlikely to win. What Reading would give to score an early goal on Sunday.

I heard one fan spouting off about how easily Reading would bounce straight back up to the Premier League anyway, and that relegation would only be for a year so it did not really matter.

What nonsense.


'Beating Derby ought to be straightforward enough'

Football people tell me getting promoted from the championship is pretty much the most difficult thing to achieve in football.

It took Reading 135 years to win promotion to the top flight, and there is no guarantee it would not take them that long to get back there again.

Southampton FC were in exactly the same position last weekend. In the relegation zone going into the final round of Championship games, and needing to better Leicester City's result, they dramatically managed a 3-2 win over Sheffield United, while Leicester City drew 0-0 with Stoke.

If Reading need some belief survival great escapes do happen, they should remember this tale.  

Tim Dellor

Tim Dellor

If Reading do escape, where will the Sunday night party be held? Who will be the hero? What will they do this summer to reinforce the beleaguered squad? Will the stadium expansion plans go ahead?

Might life be a bit easier in the top flight next year, with Stoke and the play-off winners surely pre-season favourites for relegation?

If they fail who walks away from the Madejski Stadium? Who is the scape goat? How is the demoralised squad revitalised? How much of the parachute money do they spend to get back up? How many of the fans stay loyal to the cause?

If things do go well on Sunday it will be remembered as a thrilling and enjoyable season. If things go badly this Sunday it will be remembered as a wretched season.

Reading FC bus parade in May 1 2006

Happier days: Reading FC bus parade in May 1 2006

In truth the season will have been no different, regardless of the result.

Entertaining, enthralling, disappointing, whatever other words you wish to describe the season, in equal measure, regardless of what happens and Pride Park and Fratton Park.

The Southampton manager Nigel Pearson said: "It was horrible to be involved in a relegation battle in the first place, but now we've survived there's no better feeling".

Ask Ian Holloway, the Leicester City manager, about his take on relegation and you will get a very different version.  

The consequences of Sunday's game are fascinating and contrasting. To say it is the most important game in the club's history is not exaggeration.

Success could lead to years of top flight football. Failure and the whole house could come crashing down.

last updated: 07/05/2008 at 12:29
created: 21/04/2008

Have Your Say

Any thoughts on what Tim has written? Have your say here.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Jonathan Faulkner
To be honest if we don't get a result today at Derby we don't deserve to be in premiership, however much it hurts me to say that having supported the club for nearly 15 years seeing them go from the old second division all the way up and holding a season ticket for nearly all those years. I have a really close association with the club and to go down would hurt but we have got to get the result today. Having seen the Royals for all that time and having seen us grind out results at the likes of Wrexham on a horrible windy welsh day, Luton on a nasty pitch and several other brilliant days out to rubbish places and stadiums, that most sane people would think was a nightmare but i love, I'm sure we're going to do it and I give my full backing to the boys in blue!!!! C'mon u royals!

abbie lambden
comon reading

Neil W.
After arguably two of the worst performances of the season - Portsmouth (7-4) and Fulham (2-0) - here are both these clubs with a massive say in our season finale. Could this be a good or bad omen come 5pm on Sunday ? Whatever conspires at Fratton Park, I hope reading give everything and end the season with a win. This is all we can - and must - do. It would be so very, very disappointing for Pompey to beat Fulham and us not to take full advantage at Pride Park. Marcus up for a corner, 92 minute, back of the net ! That'd have me dancing on the pitch !

Jack from Slough
Come on boys, we can do it!! The great escape is on! Everyone start whistling that famous tune!

Phil Green
4 points will see us stay up.Hopefully Bolton will not win either of their games and Brum and Fulham will draw on saturday.Good luck Reading, every faith in you.

Everything points to a narrow escape for Reading, their good start to the season and some excellent performances have set them in good stead. They should not be struggling like this and everyone must be wondering what went wrong. My feeling is that the builders where kept on when what was needed were decorators

John O'Groans
The Royals have two games left to "win promotion" - so why doesn't Copp revert to the team which actually won us the Championship. OK, so Superman can't/won't play, and Siddy's away counting money, so let's field: Hahnemann; Murty, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Shorey; Little, Harper, Hunt, Convey; Lita, Kitson. Subs: Federici, Doyle, Gunnarsson, Kebe, de la Cruz. Oh, and don't think Derby is the easy game - like Watford last year they will want to go down proving they were not so bad after all - trying to restore a bit of pride to Pride Park.

Sven Eriksson for Reading FC

Phil from Woodley
Spot on Tim - Goal win Matches and wins get Points. All to often we are composed right up to the last minute and it all comes to nothing. I think we've missed Little more than Sidwell this year - Reading are at their best with 2 wingers ploughing the wings and we've missed those balls into the box. I think we also need someone who can score from free kicks and 25 yard shots - someone to spark a goal out of nothing. Are we doomed? Hopefully not. But we are, unfortunately, where we deserve to be. The good news is we can do something about it. Glenn Little - your time is now...

Carl Whistler
Thanks for the article Tim. Personally worried that Liverpool may 'gift' Birmingham 3 points. I suspect we will lose at Wigan. Fear that we may have to win at Derby to survive; where's that Banana skin ?

Clive in Tadley
Great article, however this content seems to a duplicate of what I read in Tuesday's evening post! Sort it out Dellor! Shoddy Journalism.

Sorry Reading wont get another poinbt the way they are playing and are DOOMED

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