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Reading reap rewards of the Long game

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Paul Fletcher | 08:48 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Cardiff City Stadium

Reading manager Brian McDermott could not bring himself to look as Shane Long approached the penalty spot - but the 50-year-old had no need to worry.

Long checked his approach and watched Cardiff goalkeeper Stephen Bywater dive one way before coolly slotting his spot kick in the opposite corner to give the Royals a crucial two-goal cushion on the stroke of half time in their Championship play-off.

It was Long's second goal of the match, following his opportunistic first-time strike from the edge of the box after a cruel comedy of errors in the Bluebirds defence.

Cardiff tried to force their way back into the contest but they never recovered from Long's brace and their promotion hopes were eventually extinguished when Jobi McAnuff struck a third 10 minutes from time to seal Reading's place in the play-off final.

Long's goals at Cardiff were the 24th and 25th of a remarkable campaign for the unassuming 24-year-old Irishman. He managed just one goal in his opening 10 games of the season but has been a regular scorer since then, prompting McDermott to shake his head in bewilderment as he reflected on the fact that Long cost Reading just 30,000 euros when he signed in 2005.

When McDermott was asked whether he thought Long was the best striker in the Championship, he said: "I think so. He has pace and power. He is so strong, but he is also a great person and a real family man."

Reading congratulate Long after he slots home their second from the penalty spot - photo: PA

McDermott knows what he is talking about. When Long arrived from Cork City as an 18-year-old, he lived with the McDermott family as he settled into life in England. Manager and striker formed a strong bond (they share a love of playing the guitar) and clearly retain a great respect for each other.

Until this season, Long, who arrived at the club at the same time as the now-departed Kevin Doyle, had made more substitute appearances than starts, but his place in the team is no longer in doubt. Indeed, with the Irishman, who is under contract until the summer of 2012, the more pressing issue is whether Reading can keep him.

"Hopefully I'm a Premier League player with Reading next season, the club has given me so many chances - I owe both Reading and the manager himself," said Long, who added that he started the season with an initial target of only 10 goals.

It is easy to see why top-flight clubs would want to sign him. He is very light on his feet, almost dainty in the way he runs, but he is difficult to knock off the ball and has clearly worked hard to develop his game. He links up play intelligently, makes good use of space and, as he showed at Cardiff, is very cool in front of goal.

He also has a strong team ethic. At one point on Tuesday evening, a Reading attack broke down with left-back Ian Harte way out of position, but Long sprinted into the empty space to plug the hole, helping to stymie the Cardiff break.

"I really hope we go up because I want the club to keep hold of Shane, he has been great for Reading," explained strike partner Noel Hunt. "I would love to start next season playing alongside him."

Watching McDermott joke with Hunt and various other players as they carried out interviews after the match, it was obvious they are a group who are very much at ease with each other. As with final opponents Swansea, it seems that they have a genuine togetherness and purpose.

It was telling that every Reading player I spoke to mentioned the performance of Shaun Cummings. The 22-year-old right-back appeared to be surplus to requirements last summer and was left out of the Royals pre-season tour. He had made just one appearance since February but with Jimmy Kebe and Hal Robson-Kanu both injured, Cummings played on the right of midfield on Tuesday and, as Long acknowledged, was unlucky not to be named man of the match.

Hunt added: "Cummings might have been out of position but he played out of his skin. The thing you have to realise about it is that everybody in our group trusted him to do it. That is how strong we are as a squad."

Hunt reckons it is the honesty and collective sense of purpose that helped ensure the season did not peter tamely out. A few months ago the Berkshire club found themselves down to 12th in the table and slipping out of play-off contention. It was at this point that McDermott asked his players to sit down and work out where they were going.

"The manager gave us a pen and a paper and asked us to write down what we thought we needed to do to win enough points to finish in the top six," said Hunt.

The discussion took place at the training ground and lasted about an hour, with every player given the chance to have his say. Skipper Matt Mills wrote all the thoughts down.

"There were 17 games left and we had to work out what do we needed to do. We talked about things like heart, desire, belief and attitude. The boys can speak honestly with each other; there are no hard feelings if there is constructive criticism. It was a big turning point for us."

The coaching staff compiled a list of their own and the two were combined, with the collated thoughts pinned up on the dressing room wall.

It is starting to look like a masterstroke by McDermott. The Royals are now in a run of form that has seen them lose just one of their last 18 games and they go into the final full of confidence.

In stark contrast, Cardiff are left to contemplate another season when they have fallen short of expectations. The arrival of Seyi Olofinjana, Jason Koumas and, in particular, Craig Bellamy towards the back end of last summer fuelled hopes that the club could improve on last year's play-off final defeat by Blackpool.

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Cardiff boss Dave Jones 'needs time' to consider future after Cardiff's defeat

With four games of the regular season left, the Bluebirds lay second in the table with automatic promotion almost in their grasp, but they were unable to hold their form.

There was a tension and edginess inside the stadium on Tuesday that suggested many supporters feared the worst. Doubtless the news that Bellamy was not fit to play had damaged morale. When McAnuff scored the third goal with six minutes remaining it was like the starting gun for a race to the exits.

Questions will undoubtedly be asked about the future of boss Dave Jones, who has been in charge since 2005 and is the longest serving manager in the division. He stated quite clearly after Tuesday's defeat that he still had the passion and the desire to carry on at the club, but he also acknowledged the decision might not be up to him.

"At the moment I feel lower than a snake's belly," said a downbeat Jones.

"I'll take stock of my life, my position and whether I want to (continue). And it's whether the owners and the hierarchy of the football club want you to."

"It might not be a decision by the owners, it might be a decision I make. It will be done in the cold light, it will be calculated and it will be a decision I make as well as the owners make."

It will be another painful summer in Cardiff, especially if Swansea win the final to become the first Welsh club to reach the Premier League.

Before that happens, the Swans will have to succeed where their near neighbours failed and see off the challenge of a Reading team that has strength in unity and a striker to fear.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

 

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Swansea to be the first Welsh side in the premiership. That will add insult to injury for the bluebirds. Should be a good play off final with the Jacks going through!!

  • Comment number 2.

    As a Swans fan it would have been nice to see a play of final with Welsh clubs involved. It is a shame that Cardiff missed out however the Cardiff Players must ask themselves did the want it enough, Obviously some of them would not be considered suitable for the Premier league and as such perhaps did not want to perform as it could mean their overpaid jobs being lost. The Manager did all he could but at the end of the day it is the players who were to blame

  • Comment number 3.

    can't see reading surviving in the premiership. however i can see shane long possibly making a 'biggish' move, in relative terms. cardiff just didn't seem to have any cutting edge or drive, a real shame. jobi mcanuff looked really fresh as well. well done reading.

  • Comment number 4.

    In all honesty i really thought that cardiff would win comfortably before kick-off. With home advantage and players like emmanual thomas wittingham and bothroyd i thought that thy would sweep reading aside. But credit to reading, and in particular to long who took his chances when they came to him and was a constant threat up front. Reading also did a fantastic job of containing cardiff in the second half and did not let cardiff back into the game. I still fully expect swansea to win the final and i think that they will have too much for reading to handle but it promises to be an exciting encounter.

  • Comment number 5.

    Fully deserved final line up - both teams were the better and the final should be excellent.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a neutral I wanted to see an all Welsh final and I wanted Cardiff to go up due to Dave Jones and the fact that they have come close so often but fair play to Reading going to Wales and winning 3-0.

    They are the form team along with Norwich in the last 10 /12 games or so. If they are able to get past a terrific Swans side, I think they will be able to hold their own as the Championship has improved with Newcastle, West Brom and Blackpool demonstrating its strength.

  • Comment number 7.

    I believe that Cardiff probably have a better squad than Reading, yet their lack of confidence caused mainly by dropping not only second place, but third as well in the dying games of the season has been the catalyst of a huge loss of belief and thus, results. Cardiff may have to make some big perminant signings instead of taking on too many loan players if they want to reach the PL, a constant flow of new players into the starting line up (who aren't even a part of the proper squad) cannot be too good for the team. But none the less congrats to Reading, they were the better side there's no doubt, and they'll really give Swansea some things to worry about during the match.

    But either way, promotion or not, Shane Long is heading to the Premier League.

  • Comment number 8.

    one of the best games i've ever been to, we played really well, and i'm so hyped to go to wembley.

    as for swansea, they're a really dangerous team, anything can happen.
    URZ

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm backing Swansea to win in the playoff final. Reading might be in an excellent run of form, but Swansea just seem to have a more complete game from what I've seen. I think they'd do better in the Premiership and really ought to be there. Best of luck to them.

    And I seem to recall the Gossip column mentioning a while ago that Shane Long had been linked with a move to Liverpool, though quite why he'd go somewhere only to be pretty much guaranteed third choice at best is beyond me.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Kit, Reading certainly won't survive with the current squad. But neither will we mortgage our future for short term security. The fact that we have spent next to nothing this season is a testament to McDermott's skills in bringing out the best of the younger players and blending with some experience. Compare that to some of the teams who spend money that they clearly don't have.

  • Comment number 12.

    my comment got deleted because i was saying that the welsh teams shouldnt be in the english leagues . pathetic moderators. this will probaly be deleted aswell

  • Comment number 13.

    Reading and Swansea in the final looks like a classic in the making. Swansea are an awesome footballing side and their defence is just the best in the league. Meanwhile, Reading will have confidence and surely that will fire them to victory. Can I see either side staying up in the Premier League if they get there? Swansea: yes. They have Scott Sinclair, Dyer and Borini who are amazing players in their own right. Their defence is solid enough (only conceded 12 all season at the Liberty!) but can they be consistent enough to survive in the Prem? Reading: no. Of course, Reading have Kebe and Long who are clearly Premier League quality but their defence is woeful, and they'll need an overhaul to do well in the Prem.

  • Comment number 14.

    Congratulations to Reading and their fans, they've been on an unbelievable run as Fletch's article points out. They scored four at the City Ground, something very few teams are capable of, everytime Forest looked like getting back into that game Reading hit back and were deserved winners.

    I can't say I'm too disappointed Cardiff will be keeping Forest company again next season. They are clearly flying close to the sun financially and it may seem like schaudenfreuder but for a team that took a Premier League star on loan only because his parent club wanted rid of him but were still willing to pay his wages it's satisfying to see them fail.

    My only hope now is that Forest don't turn into the perennial chokers that the Bluebirds seem to be.

    For a more in depth opinion on the place of playoffs in sport read my blog:
    http://thebigblogofsport.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/have-you-got-playoff-fever/

  • Comment number 15.

    Reading will need to add some players but team spirit will be just as important which the failure of West Ham goes to show. With 3 from Blackburn, Blackpool, Birmingham Wigan and Wolves being in the prem next season I think they have reason to have some hope.

  • Comment number 16.

    "my comment got deleted because i was saying that the welsh teams shouldnt be in the english leagues . pathetic moderators. this will probaly be deleted aswell"

    Well they were *invited* to play in the English league and Swansea helped form the old Third Division. Also, I haven't heard any of the English clubs complaining about their eligibility. I wonder if you're a fan of an English club that lost out to Cardiff or Swansea recently?

    Wales has been joined in legal union with England since the 16th century, so it seems right to me that they can elect to play in whichever league they can qualify for.

  • Comment number 17.

    @bestchelseasteven
    i agree, partly... it annoys me because they get to be in the english leagues but dont abide by the english fa rules, and the welsh fa is well lenient on their teams.

    and yea moderators are annoying sometimes, deleting comments, sometimes even for the slightest of offences, and with no explanation

  • Comment number 18.

    Cardiff were awful last night, the mistake for the first goal was a comedy of errors.
    In fairness, they were missing Bellamy and they also should have had a penalty for a similar foul to the one that was given against them, but apart from that they looked uninspired, to put it mildly.
    Reading were steady and have two or three players whom really stood out and made the difference, similar in my opinion to Swansea. The final should be interesting.......for a Forest fan wondering what might have been......

  • Comment number 19.

    Great blog entry! - I always get annoyed when people needlessly critic them, yes, it's all opinion! But it's not wrong just because someone doesn't agree completely!

    Back to the football, Reading v Swansea will be good, I think Swansea play a really nice football game, 'total futsal', from the back, passing play, controlling. Reading may struggle to get the ball.
    However, when Reading do get the ball, they're direct, tricky, and can be clinical, as Cardiff City fans will tell you.

    As for promotion, Reading may be better equipped? Have recent experience in the league. I predicted a Wolverhampton relegation would see Doyle & Hunt return, but not so likely now.

    For Swansea, they'll come with no fear, a determination, and hopefully they'll look to continue playing the same football which won them the play-off, should they win! Remind you of anyone? ([http://wp.me/p1z74j-v] Blackpool FC - Should they be taken seriously?) - Brendan Rodgers seems a good man too, one the media would enjoy.

    Prediction; Reading 2 - 1 Swansea (AET)

  • Comment number 20.

    I hope Reading can give Swansea as much of a game as Forest did, then we're all in for a treat. I'd prefer Reading to win it, personally, but Swansea are playing very good football at the minute, and will take some stopping. The shame is that I would expect whichever squad that fails to make it to be picked apart over the summer; Long, Mills, Kebe, Sinclair, Dyer and Rangel are all certainly worthy of the top flight.

    @ timncfc 13) "Swansea are an awesome footballing side and their defence is just the best in the league."

    A couple of people came out with that yesterday - it just isn't true! That honour, both in goals conceded and clean sheets kept, goes to the Champions, Queens Park Rangers - best defence in the country! ;-)

  • Comment number 21.

    I wonder if you're a fan of an English club that lost out to Cardiff or Swansea recently?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    the clue is in the username. why should welsh clubs be taking part in an ENGLISH league?. if swansea reach the premier league they will need to change the name to the british premier league

  • Comment number 22.

    timncfc.....in relation to your comment about the swans players....Borrini is a loan player from Chelsea who's contract runs out in the summer. I would expect a "big" club to sign him up. Also, Swans dont have the best defence in the championship...you'll find that record belongs to QPR with 32 conceded, 10 less than the swans. Reading will start as underdogs but that will suit them nicely.

  • Comment number 23.

    Football can sometimes be a cruel game and last night proved that. It needed lady luck to get the first goal and although Cardiff came close, they didn't seem that focussed on the ball initially but were looking for penalty decisions to get in front. Lady luck did eventually give Reading the lead and although I think Cardiff had the better chances (12 shots on target compared to Readings 5) and overall were the better team on the night I think that Readings desire was greater and it paid off.

    Will Reading beat Swansea? Unlikely in my opnion, particulary if the Swans play the passing and possession game they are are so good at. The pitch will definately suit their playing style and with Dyer, Sinclair, Dobbie and Borini in the mix along with a confident and composed defence, I can't see Reading getting that many chances to be honest. If Reading use a league 1 and 2 approach and hoof the ball upfield as they did last night then they may get lucky. However, overall I think Swansea's style will eventually pay off and see them secure a well earned place in the Premiership next season.

  • Comment number 24.

    Is the moderator back from lunch yet ?

  • Comment number 25.

    Dave Jones has had his time and once again they've fallen short. Its time he looked long and hard at himself and recognises that he's taken Cardiff as far as he can. Its time to step aside and let someone else have a go

  • Comment number 26.

    In stark contrast, Cardiff are left to contemplate another season when they have fallen short of expectations.
    -----------------------

    Do you not realise that Cardiff finished above Reading? Considering there is very little between the clubs in terms of size or funding (reading have parachutes remember) it is hardly a stark contrast at all.

  • Comment number 27.

    12. At 11:38am 18th May 2011, bestchelseasteven wrote:

    my comment got deleted because i was saying that the welsh teams shouldnt be in the english leagues . pathetic moderators. this will probaly be deleted aswell
    ----------------

    Let's hope so, it's a tired and boring xenophobic argument.

  • Comment number 28.

    #22 "Borrini is a loan player from Chelsea who's contract runs out in the summer. I would expect a "big" club to sign him up."

    What if Swansea go up? I reckon he'd be one of their priorities, yes bigger clubs are looking at him but I feel that he'd move for regular football. Yes, if he moved to Italy, he'd get more money but I reckon he'd rather play regular football in the Prem.

    #20

    I know this lol, they've got an awesome defence nonetheless, I was just trying to emphasise my point!

    Swansea should win on the 30th May but it will take something special to beat a very consistent Reading side. If Kebe is fit, Reading will have a real chance in this game. My prediction: Reading 1 Swansea 1 (goes to penalties)

  • Comment number 29.

    Can I see either side staying up in the Premier League if they get there? Swansea: yes. They have Scott Sinclair, Dyer and Borini who are amazing players in their own right.
    -----------------

    Borini might stay if we go up, he's definately good enough, so is Sinclair. The likes of Ashley Willams, Dorus De Vries, Rangel, Pratley and Dyer would be decent squad players in most lower premiership teams, Joe Allen is a future star, Alan Tate and Leon Britton have been written off with each promotion but have stepped up to the mark every time.

    We would have to strengthen to stay up but our greatest asset is that we play as a team better than a lot of PL teams right now.

  • Comment number 30.

    This story made me quite angry. Cardiff have had a good season this year finishing ahead of where they were last season despite financial problems.

    The fact that the club might be considering getting rid of him is nothing new in football and shows that stability is gone in football once more. The fact that Jones might quit though just smacks of someone licking his wounds. Man up and try again. Fergie didn't quit when he didn't win titles.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'd like Swansea to win due to them having been out of the top flight for so long and because I really like the way they play BUT having watched Reading's performance last night they would also be a worthy addition to the PL.

  • Comment number 32.

    Although I wanted to see Forest win the play-offs it was on the Royals that I put my money and they're looking a good bet now - Swans looked good in the two legs against Forest but for me Reading just seem to be very well disciplined and will be difficult to beat.

    As for Cardiff they fall short yet again, where do they go from here? Will they give Dave Jones another chance to get them into the PL having come so close in recent years? The Championship will be very competative next season, especially with the addition of West Ham and probably Birmingham. Those who are disillusioned with the PL would do well to switch their attention to England's second tier for some excitement.

  • Comment number 33.

    to timncfc: " their defence is woeful"

    And where are you getting this info from? did you not notice that they didnt conceed over the two legs and have kept 5 clean sheets in the last 8, sheff untied aside we have rarely conceeded more than one a game so get your facts right! better record than norwich and cardiff and have only been outscored in the league by norwich and leeds. I do agree that with the current team we would struggle next season but no more so than swansea, they have sinclair but otherwise no super stars and borini is on loan so he could be playing for a second rate italian side next season.

  • Comment number 34.

    HMRC FC deserve all they get. Well done Reading and Swansea, 2 well run clubs who have worked within their means to get where they are.

  • Comment number 35.

    As a Reading fan who was there at Wembley in 95, I wasn't counting my chickens at half time, but Cardiff just didn't seem to get going, and although we didn't create much we defended well and were comfortable.

    I've been impressed with the way Swansea have played this season in the matches I've seen them play so it will be tough on May 30th. Hopefully we can get Kebe back though because we are much more dangerous when we have two wide men.

  • Comment number 36.

    @hackerjack

    No parachute payments at Reading this season. They stopped last season.

  • Comment number 37.

    After missing out on 2nd place you got the feeling that Cardiff were going to struggle in the play-offs. Teams that are just pipped to automatic sometimes seem to be deflated and struggle. It is a shame because as a supporter of a club in the Premier League looking at the potential teams coming up, Cardiff have looked the strongest side, in terms of how they might do in the top flight, in the Championship this year, and have been one of the top sides for a while. You get the feeling that as a club and a squad they should be in the top flight.

    I feel for Dave Jones, because given what has gone on at that club with the financial problems, he has done a really excellent job and he's always been a quite under-rated manager, but I can't get away from the feeling that a change may be needed now.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    the point is that dave jones has had what 4 years at cardiff,had alot of money to spend(in terms of wages and fees),had the best talent in the league(bellamy,bothroyd,chopra,hasselbaink,fowler,koumas,whittingham,ramsey )and they havent got the job done numerous times.
    finishing 4th is great but not good enough after getting so close for 3 years,theres no more excuses CARDIFF!!!!PLEASE

  • Comment number 40.

    @ Royalty - you might need to change your username in June!

  • Comment number 41.

    The match itself will be a good one, but i don't see either Reading or Swansea staying up in the premier league. yes both teams have a few good players in the likes of Long, Sinclair and Dyer. But they don't have the funds to spend big in the transfer window like QPR, as Reading's defence isn't the best, and i don't see swansea's scoring many goals. you never know though anything can happen. I do think shane long will be in the Premier league next season though.

  • Comment number 42.

    I find it hilarious that a minority of people are saying the Welsh clubs should not be playing in the English leagues and are acting like they have invaded.

    Yet it was the Enlgish League, with full support from English Clubs, who were backed by English fans.... who decided on their own to invite the Welsh clubs into the English League because at the time it was seen to have raised the level of professionalism in the English game. Not long after the Welsh clubs were invited, Cardiff made it to the FA Cup Final and won the competition.

    It was because there were initially two amazing teams at the time in a league of their own (Welsh league) that the invitation was given out. And there was a buzz around England that at the time two extremely talented clubs would immediately go head to head with their own teams.

    The minority need to go check their history, it was their own people who made the first move.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think Reading will go up. To me, they have more heart. Swansea are great technically, and on a big pitch at Wembley, they will have the space to play their own game. But Reading are the definition of a team, the sum is greater than the parts, and i think that wll see them over the line.

    With regard to this whole Welsh team in the English leagues debate, i can see both sides to the argument, but in all, i don't have a problem with it. After all, once they were invited and accepted, it was up to them to be competitive, and whilst it has taken a while, they are. Credit to them.

    If Swansea go up, then what about Celtic and Rangers? Most people would tell you they are both better than Swansea, or Reading or Cardiff for that matter. Would english fans look more or less favourably upon Celtic and Rangers than Swansea? Might be time to invite them over the border too!

  • Comment number 44.

    As an Englishman I'd like to state that I have absolutely no problems with Welsh teams playing in the Premier League or the Championship or League 1 or League 2.
    Will the xenophobes here please note that none of the names of the professional leagues in England contain the word English so no name change is needed.
    The clubs were invited to join by the clubs associated with the FA at the time and have every right to enjoy promotion, europe and relegation (well in this case maybe not enjoy :) ) the same as any other club in the leagues solely dependant on their match day performances

    I do agree with Readingfc88 (#17) that they should come under the English FA rules/discipline structure. However a brief check on the internet seems to indicate that the clubs (talks have been held) and some of their fans and the English FA are in favour of this however it seems to be UEFA rules that have prevented this
    However I also believe that there is a Premier league rule that means if Swansea are promoted then they would have to switch to English FA and I don't see them switching back if they are later relegated.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Find the comments about Welsh teams in an English league quite interesting....especially as they were started by someone who follows Chelsea. Which league is it that the concerns are being raised about, is it the lower leagues, the Championship (as these comments have never been raised prior to the possibility of a Welsh side being promoted), is it the Premier League or is it - in fact - the very little league at the top of the Premier League where all the money lives? If it is the last one then our xenophobic friends need not worry....the Top 6 will always act as a 'closed shop' and the rest of us will continue to fight over the scraps.

    I wonder if people are as upset about Brechin City.....dear oh dear, we really do not do ourselves justice sometimes with these outdated comments...I just wish the Moderator had deleted the second post as well!

  • Comment number 47.

    @43

    Given the antics of both the Old Firm teams and their "fans"

    Errrm a big no thanks.

    BTW my guess is that they are both mid championship level teams at best, you cannot properly gauge their level given the poor competition.

  • Comment number 48.

    @MichaelF #46

    You clearly don't support a championship team then if this is the first your hearing of the welsh team argument

  • Comment number 49.

    Roy.

    Well said, and I totally agree. Good luck in the final mate!

  • Comment number 50.

    42. At 16:01p.m. 18th May 2011, The Realist wrote: "It was because there were initially two amazing teams at the time in a league of their own (Welsh league) that the invitation was given out. "
    Neither Cardiff or Swansea where ever in a Welsh league , Cardiff were in the Cardiff and district league , there was no Welsh league until the League of Wales in the 90's .

    44. At 16:34p.m. 18th May 2011, ManchesterUnited4Ever wrote:"they should come under the English FA rules/discipline structure. However a brief check on the internet seems to indicate that the clubs (talks have been held) and some of their fans and the English FA are in favour of this however it seems to be UEFA rules that have prevented this"
    Derry City play in the League of Ireland and come under the rules/discipline of the FAI not the IFA , and have so since entering the league , I cant see any difference in this unless the Welsh FA have decided not to allow the FA to control the clubs in its jurisdiction .
    But either way for somebody to say that after spending most of their existance in the English league system they should not be allowed to the pinnacle division is nonsense . If Swansea go up they deserve it .

    And to the point Reading played well last night and will make it hard for the favourites Swansea. As for Shane Long , for the price Reading paid for him and Kevin Doyle and the goals and preformances in the last six years : bargains.

  • Comment number 51.

    Happy to be underdogs, most seem to think swansea have this wrapped up but they finished with 3 more points than us, thats it. We fully deserve our place in the final, its a hard one to call, but we have good belief and we certainly owe rodgers one for two losses earlier in the season

  • Comment number 52.

    Cardiff and Nottingham Forest should be banned from the playoffs. They are just wasting everyone’s time being there when there are a good half dozen teams who missed out on qualification who have more bottle and would have done a better job, this year and in previous years.

  • Comment number 53.

    Why would they need to change the name from the English Premier League to the British Premier League? That would be like asking the English Cricket Team to be called the British Cricket Team due to the existance of Glamorgan, or better still, the Empire Cricket Team to cover the homelands of all the current squad. A stupid idea if ever I heard one.

  • Comment number 54.

    Now then,

    Sorry for not posting earlier. Had the day off with the wife today and was whisked off to an internet free zone (if you can call a tapas bar that).

    I agree that the final has all the makings of an excellent game - though I forget how many times I have said that over the years only to be left very disappointed.

    As for Dave Jones and Cardiff. Another year, another disappointment. From what I have seen and heard I do not think he has ever had the greatest of bonds with the club's fans. He perhaps does not have the sort of goodwill that can secure his position and smooth his summer.

  • Comment number 55.

    To Murray 1975 (#50),

    I didn't know about the Derry City case. That makes it all the more reasonable for the English FA to oversee Welsh teams playing in their competitions

    I also just found this article on the guardian saying that Swansea and Cardiff will both come under English FA regulation so that hopefully will end that situation permanently now
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/may/06/fa-faw-cardiff-swansea

    Good luck to both Swansea and Reading in the final I hope they (and their fans) both have a great day at Wembley and the best team on the day wins. Best of luck next year to whoever makes it to the Premier League

    For those saying they (and/or the other promoted clubs) will get relegated for sure and that they will get less points than Derby did.
    Pull your necks in - People said that about Burnley 2 last season and Blackpool this season and neither of those clubs embarrassed themselves in the Premier League (I still hope Blackpool stay up - but am torn as I also want Manchester United to only drop 2 points at home all season) - far from it. They both played some attractive football and entertained a lot of people. If you come to the Premier League and play attractive football I for one will always welcome you

  • Comment number 56.

    PS If you beat our rivals and lose to us I'll welcome you even more ;)

  • Comment number 57.

    To Murray1975 (#50)

    I did a recheck and it seems like the Welsh FA used UEFA rules to block it last year.
    http://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/welsh-fa-and-england-fa-minor-skirmish-over-jurisdiction-1088991

    Basis of the Welsh argument was that Clubs come under the authority of the FA where they are domiciled.

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm sure Long is a decent player, but against cardiff he only kicked a ball into an empty net and from 12 yards...

  • Comment number 59.

    @57. ManchesterUnited4Ever
    http://www.derrycityfc.net/cityweb/Article-History/derry-city-fc-a-concise-history.html
    Its a bit of a read but it appears once the IFA dropped the objection it cleared the way with UEFA so it seems its just the Welsh FA are objecting .
    Thanks for the links .

  • Comment number 60.

    Hmm so Reading's defence is woeful is it? lose 9 games over a 46 game season and lose fewer games than swansea equates to a woeful defence? football must have changed lol

    I was on tenderhooks all night, couldn't quite believe Jobi's goal to make it 3-0, all the pundits tipped cardiff but as usual we prove people wrong.

    Final too close to call to be honest but it going to be a cracker :)

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    I love the way that, no matter what, Reading are always underestimated. It's good motivation.

    No idea what will happen at Wembley. We're due a play-off success, but that doesn't mean anything.

    I hope it's a good game. I hope we win.

  • Comment number 63.

    READING'S defence is not woeful!!! we've kept a clean sheet away at Everton this year, lost 1 nil at man city with two midfielders in defence, clean sheet vs west brom and didnt concede at all vs cardiff... people really need to look more closely! anyway im very happy to be going in as underdogs as thats how we like it...
    Also for those who dont think we have a chance of staying up i would like to point out that it was Madejski's aim to sell the club to a man with 'deep pockets' when we eventually go back up... so im guessing funds will be available somehow or other.
    More noticeably who would have said reading would finish 8th in their first season 4 years ago by spending less than 3 mill!!! so no one can say no chance of staying up!
    Reading will definitely win! urzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Comment number 64.

    Really looking forward to this game! not a big Championship watcher but have seen a few of readings games/highlights recently and think they can definitely do well in the EPL. As for Swansea, i really haven't seen enough of them to comment but seem to have had a decent season so good luck to both teams at wembley.

    And on the note of the welsh team not being allowed to play in the premiership, what a complete load of rubbish!! They've probably got more english players in their team than most of the teams already in the league! It's a multi national league so why not have teams frm wales? they have come up through the leagues like every other club that makes it into the premiership so i see no problem.

    And with the scottish teams, i would have no reason for them to not play in the premier league. Provided that they EARN the right to play there. They would have to come up through the leagues just like everyone else. And do we really think that they would make it out of the Championship?? I certainly don't.

    Would most of the guys at celtic and rangers really fancy travelling down to Ipshich, Watford or even bristol on a wet december day? Would they be able to handle the physicality of the league??

    My opinion is no! So i don't think that the scottish clubs could be considered at all.

  • Comment number 65.

    Im amazed that people are saying that Reading wont survive in the ENGLISH premierleague. We beat Eveton away, Lost to man city from a set-peice 1-0, and beat wba in the cup 1-0 at home. Furthermore, we gain 90m if we beat Swansea which can easily be spent on some good players (even though quite abit of it will go in the backpockets of Sir John Madejski.
    But fair play to swansea, there was real desire and character to the team that beat forrest and they beat reading both home and away. Even though in recent times their away form from home has been poor, so maybe going to wembley will be harder than they think especially with shane long's desire to run non stop + the pace of Jimmy Kebe.
    Will be a great game i think, especially that im going to be there!
    C'mon uRzz!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    no 64 @ Liverpaul85

    I have to disagree that Celtic and Rangers couldnt handle the Championship. We travel up to Inverness on a cold winters night. The physical aspect wouldnt be a problem either as Scotland is very physical if nothing else.

    Im not saying either would stroll the Championship or even go up 1st season but i do think both would hold theor own and with the size of crowds and fanbase both have, they would after 2 or 3 seasons be in a position for promotion.

  • Comment number 68.

    The minority need to go check their history, it was their own people who made the first move.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    it doesn't mean we agree with what they did

  • Comment number 69.

    Good Luck Reading... every Dundee United supporter is backing you as we want our wee bonus payment for selling you guys one of our favoured sons - Noel Hunt.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    As Ryu said "You must defeat Shane Long to stand a chance"

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    # 12, 21 & 68 bestchelseasteven

    It would be interesting to know if you think Chelsea FC should change their name on account of all the foreigners at the club?

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 67 ledleynowworthafortune

    I agree that the scottish league is physical, but with the added quality of the championship compared to the SPL would rangers and celtic deal with that?? I honestly don't know the answer. I don't watch much of the Championship although i am definitely trying to as its a really interesting league. And i always try and watch as many old firm games as i can and normally really enjoy them. Although this season has kind of taken the shine off it for me slightly.

    I just think that with extra quality alongside the physical side of the championship could be slightly too much for celtic and Rangers.

    I think if they played teams like blackpool most weeks then they would do well. And thats not being disrespectful to Blackpool, or Rangers and Celtic, but just with Blackpool's open way of playing the game i think it would suit both Rangers and Celtic.

  • Comment number 75.

    Liverpaul - have absolutely no idea what you're talking about!

    Celtic and Rangers would have no problems in the Championship at all, both teams are full of international players and have quality and strength throughout the side and on the bench. 2 years at most to get out of it at most IMO.

    Yes I appreciate it's a very competitive league, but Celtic and Rangers are used to the highest demands imaginable, winning games is in their DNA. They are used to teams shutting up shop from the first minute in the SPL, so the issue of whether the opposition will play an open game or not is neither here nor there surely?

    Just because the opposition are better, that doesn't make Celtic and Rangers worse. It just means games will be closer than they are in the SPL. Putting it another way, do you think any team in the Championship will have it easy against Celtic or Rangers?

    I'd love to get Long to Celtic but I suspect Premiership teams will offer more than we're prepared to pay - assuming he does leave...

  • Comment number 76.

    Delighted that Cardiff with their legion of Risdale inspired loan signings didn't make it.
    Go out and pay to buy the players like everyone does.

    Anyway, Welsh clubs are needed in the EPL as little as Celtic and Rangers.
    There is a Welsh league which has Championms League qualification places.....go and play in that....OR..could someone like Stoke (or now Birmingham) join the Welsh league to get an easy route into Europe?...perhaps the sort of thing that grubby West ("we're a big club") Ham would go for?

  • Comment number 77.

    Disappointed how everyone seems to think Wembley will suit Swansea, with the pace and skill or McAnuff, Long and Kebe it could well play right into our hands!

    Cmon URZ

  • Comment number 78.

    Reading Vs swansea Play Off Final May 30th 2011

    I am not going to be Disappointed if Reading Lose. i been two play off final 1995 at wembely lost to bolton 4.3 than i went two 2001 play off final in Cardiff vs walsall lost 3.2 In Extra Time.......so i be going monday to new wembely, reading taking 40,000 fans. It will be a good game, i think reading will have to watch out for Scott Sinclair Dyer and Bonci. i think swansea will be to strong on the day. but reading only have mcauff long and kebe if fit if reading go up we will be stright back down.. wembely will suit swansea But who no. Best team win and i wich Both Team Good Luck
    Come on You URZ.

 

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