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Coppell ready to take blame if Reading go down

SoccerNews in English Premier League 11 May 2008

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Reading manager Steve Coppell says he will accept sole responsibility should his side be relegated from the Premier League on Sunday.

Reading, who play bottom club Derby County, enter the final day of the season level on points with fourth-from-bottom Fulham but with a six goal deficit in terms of goal difference, meaning they require the London club to drop points at Portsmouth if they are to survive.

With Birmingham City, who are below Reading in the table, also still capable of beating the drop, Sunday promises to be a day of agonising tension for Coppell, who admits the pressure has begun to get to him.

When asked whether he feared the sack from the club's flamboyant chairman, John Madejski, should he fail to keep the club in the top tier of English football, Coppell rebuffed the question.

He said: “You want to ply your trade at the very top and these challenges come with the territory.

“This has got nothing to do with my personal situation, it is about Reading Football Club trying to win a football game on Sunday, nothing else.

“I'm not backing out of answering a question but I just want to concentrate on the football match.

“The manager is always accountable. I have never hidden from that. At this club I have made great issue of that fact that the chairman leaves me alone and there is no interference.

“He leaves me to look after the football club and if the football is not working it's my responsibility 100 per cent and (a lack of confidence in me) is obviously a factor now.

“When you are down at the bottom of the Premiership, it is a lot more oppressive than when I have been at the bottom of other leagues because there is such a focus of attention.

“Wherever you go people talk to you about it, there is no escape. It was great last year when it was going well because everyone was complimenting us.

“But this year you walk into a room sometimes and it is a bit like a morgue. When everyone keeps reminding you it becomes more of a load to carry, but it's part of your job.”

One set of players who have not being doing their jobs of late is Reading's strikers. They have failed to hit the target in their last six games and their lack of form is of some concern for Coppell.

He added: “I can't be confident the goals will come. I have an inner belief that we are capable of scoring goals but given our recent record there is no way I can be confident.

“But there is certainly a determination and the situation is set in black and white. We have to give ourselves the best chance of surviving so we have to play well and win the game, no half measures.

“I have my faith in all of them. It is an eleven-man job. Just because the forwards are not scoring shouldn't mean we are not scoring.”

While Reading are trying to dictate their own fate, Derby's destination is already confirmed.

A woeful campaign draws to an end on Sunday but before they bail out of the top flight, their manager, Paul Jewell is determined to treat the fans to one final celebration.

He said: “It's been a horrendous season but we had a Supporters' Player-of-the-Year Award ceremony. I was going in there thinking there's going to be some antagonism.

“But it was unbelievable. The support the players and I got was amazing, so it would be nice on Sunday to give the supporters something to cheer – Sunday is important if we can give our terrific supporters something.

“We don't owe Birmingham or Fulham anything. We owe it to ourselves. I just said to (Birmingham manager) Alex McLeish 'the bad news is we're going to try our best'. At that point he collapsed!”

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