Championship Reading secured promotion to the Premier League last night with a 1-0 home victory over strugglers Nottingham Forest.
The Royals were expected to be play-offs hopefuls at the start of the season but I think few would have expected them to go up automatically this season.
Reading captain Jobi McAnuff shared his feeling with Sky Sports after the game saying: “Basically it’s a dream come true. To finally do it and lead the boys up is a great achievement. It’s been a real team effort; everyone at the club has been fantastic and put in a massive effort.
“It’s where everyone wants to be. It’ll be great to go up there and test ourselves against the best players and at the best grounds. We can’t wait for next season now. I wish it would come tomorrow.”
Reading have been outstanding since January, winning 14 out of their last 16 games. Prior to that the club were looking at sealing a play-off spot but their momentum has taken right to the top of the Championship table.
They have even eclipsed big spending Southampton on a small budget. It really is a fantastic achievement for Brian McDermott’s side.
I wrote a piece a couple of days ago praising Reading boss Brian McDermott and Southampton counterpart Nigel Adkins. Both bosses deserve credit but McDermott has achieved promotion with very little financial backing and after losing his best striker before the season started.
He has won praise in recent months for the job he has done with the Royals but I think he is still underrated. It took a really good man-manager to take this group of players up to the Premier League and he has achieved that. He deserves all the credit he gets.
Reading striker Jason Roberts revealed his admiration for his boss saying: “ He’s absolutely outstanding, what he’s done with this group of players and more importantly the characters he brings into the club. He makes sure they’re the right people.”
When you look at Reading’s squad on paper you wouldn’t say those players were good enough to win promotion from the Championship but somehow McDermott has turned them into a really tight-knit group who play for one another.
The squad contains the likes of veterans Ian Harte, Andy Griffin and Jason Roberts. These players probably thought their Premier League days were well behind them, especially Harte who was playing in League Two with Carlisle just over 20 months ago.
Reading signed Jason Roberts on a free transfer in January from Blackburn and his experience has really help his team in the last few months. Roberts was considered surplus to requirements at Ewood Park but has proved there is still life left in the old dog.
Reading does also have a few promising younger players coming through their ranks. The likes of Jem Karacan and Hal Robson-Kanu are definitely players for the future. They are in their early twenties and enjoyed decent seasons as their team achieved this unexpected success.
Without being disrespectful to Reading their team doesn’t have many star names or big time charlie’s. Their promotion was all about playing as a team and for each other. Team work is vital when it comes to achieving success.
The team is more important than the sum of its parts and Reading are a good example of what can be achieved by good old fashioned team work.
Reading’s next aim will now be to win the Championship title. With two games to go the Royals are three points clear of second place Southampton with just two games of the Championship campaign to be played.
If Reading defeat Crystal Palace at home at the weekend and Southampton fail to win at Middlesbrough the men from Berkshire will be crowned champions, an amazing achievement.
Next season will be really tough for the Royals and their players. The squad will need to be heavily strengthen. However the way they have performed this season I certainly wouldn’t back against them surviving in the top flight next season. Congratulations Reading and good luck for next season.
Will Reading finish the season as Championship champions?