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A Cosy Chat with Vital Reading

After beating a terrible Villa side on Boxing day, I stated that they were the worst team we had played in the Prem, until my son reminded me of our game against yourselves. How did that performance compare with your other 19 games?

If you consider it with our first 12 games, it would certainly be our worst performance by an absolute mile, as we very much competed in all of the other games. The encounter with yourselves, we were played apart - plain and simple. Our past six or seven games, bar the Swansea and Manchester City games, we have given absolutely nothing. Against Southampton and Aston Villa, the teams that are going to be around us, it was the worst I had ever seen us play in a long time. At the start of the season our effort seemed to be carrying us along, but it seems even that is running out now.

One win in the Prem after 19 games (Prior to West Ham) is a clear indication you are out of your depth in the division. Are you already preparing for Championship football or do miracles really happen?

It will be tough, but I still think its possible. I still think Villa and Southampton are going to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, its just a matter if we can keep up with the teams above us and win the majority of our home games. However, our dealings in January will decide our season in my opinion. We need to bring in quality and Premier League experience, which McDermott has hinted at.

Earlier in the season, I rather unsportingly stated that there was not one Reading that would get into a Tottenham team. I was right wasn't I?

Yes, you were very much right. Our squad is really lacking the quality to get into any team in this division. Even Jimmy Kebe has come out and stated we are a 'good Championship side`, with many of our fans agreeing with this statement.

Looking at some of the names linked with you in the up-coming window, why do I fear you will make a complete mess of things in buying quality players, but ones totally ill-equipped for a relegation battle? I use Arshavin as a perfect example.

I have to disagree and say we need players of quality, like Arshavin, as long as it doesn`t damage us financially. It`s hard to put your finger on what sort of players you need for a relegation battle, but having witnessed our first half to the season, it is clear that we need quality all over the pitch. I think every team in this division has a player that has that flair to create something out of nothing, when it`s not going right in a game, but I struggle to see a player like that in our side.

From your perspective, who do you want to bring in to be your season's saviour?

Out of all the players we have been linked with, probably Arshavin, because of what I stated previously. We need that spark in attacking areas of the pitch to try and give our strikers supply, because the likes of Le Fondre and Pogrebnyak would feast on these sort of opportunities. I still wouldn`t turn down the chance to sign Huddlestone as well though!

I notice Tom Huddlestone has been mentioned as an option to sign. Is he a player that interests you?

He would definitely interest me. A few years ago he was hovering around the edges of the England squad and you don`t get the odd England cap for nothing. Tom seems a very big, strong lad, who could potentially act as a much better and experienced option to Mikele Leigertwood, who has been awful this season, yet gets into the team every week. With Scott Parker returning to fitness, it seems that Huddlestone would be a realistic loan signing for us.

Moving on to Spurs. You thought we were crazy in sacking Harry Redknapp in the summer. What are your thoughts now?

When I look back, crazy seems a very strong word to use, but I would still call it confusing. I am however a massive fan of AVB, especially his mental character for taking a huge amount of flack so far during his tenure in the Premier League. However, he seems to be moulding into the role very well and the way you played against us back in September still impresses me to this day. Going back to Harry, I`m hoping he doesn`t work his magic at QPR for our sake!

I remember you also said you quite liked Spurs, so I assume you want us to finish in the top four once again. Can and will we do it?

I hope you do it and I think you can, once you gain some consistency in your results. Spurs strike me as a better team away, rather than at home, which doesn`t surprise me in all honesty as AVB seems to play a system which can come across quite reserved with two deep-lying midfielders. I think Chelsea, Manchester City and United will finish above you, but with Arsenal seemingly struggling to find any sort of consistent form, fourth spot is certainly there for the taking!

I have to say, I fear for you in this game. How will you set up and how will you counter our strengths?

Against Swansea, we must have had about 15% possession of the ball in the first half, but strange as it may sound, this system was effective. When you played us at the Madejski back in September, you dictated the majority of the play, but we seemed to be getting increasingly frustrated at not getting the ball. This forced to us to close down and leave spaces, which the likes of Lennon and Bale were always going to exploit. However, with Swansea, we knew we weren't going to see a huge amount of the ball and we seemed fine with that, but they didn`t create any major openings, despite their dominant possession. We just need to remain patient and disciplined when you have the ball, and counter when necessary.

And finally your prediction for the game?

I`m not entirely confident for this one. You don`t concede many at home, but don`t score a huge amount either. I can see one goal deciding it, but not in our favour. 1-0 Spurs.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The journalist

Writer: OxfordSpur Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday December 31 2012

Time: 3:18PM


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