Steve Coppell during Reading v Spurs
'Failing miserably would be unforgivable'
By Tim Dellor
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.
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.
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.
'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.
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.
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
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Jack from Slough
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