Spyin' Kop: Reading in the Carling Cup (25th October, 2006)

Posted by Rushian on October 24, 2006, 04:36:15 PM

All is doom and gloom around Liverpool L4. Away defeats to Everton, Chelsea, Bolton and Manchester United have punctured any hope of a Premiership challenge this season. The normally reliable defence is looking leakier than the National Festival of Vegetables Having a White Slender Bulb and Flat Dark Green Leaves, which is held annually on St. David's Day in Cardiff. The midfield has dispensed with both those reliable allies of old, pass and move. Our strikers have wandered into an arid desert with just one billy-can between them and no sign of any further supply.

Can it get worse for Rafa and his beleaguered squad? Well it could ... up next is that unreliable bedfellow, the Carling Cup. In recent years it's either been the home of encouraging performances by youngsters and visits to Cardiff or embarrassing early exits to lower league teams. Reading are our visitors for the first game between the clubs since we were formed in 1892 - they'd already been kicking a football around the leafy fields of Berkshire for 21 years by that stage. In their first year in the top division they've made an immediate impact, playing fast, attractive team-orientated football and reaping the rewards with some excellent results. But then they are managed by native Norris Greener Steve Coppell.



Liverpool v Reading
Carling Cup, 3rd Round
Wednesday 25th October, 2006
Anfield
KO: 8.00pm
Referee: Peter Walton, Northampton



The Club

Formed in 1871, Reading FC is one of the oldest professional clubs in England and reached the top division for the first time after winning the Championship in 2006. They were originally nicknamed The Biscuitmen, the town being home to Huntley & Palmers, but this was changed to The Royals in the 1970s. The Madejski Stadium which opened in 1998 is the sixth ground Reading have called home, with Elm Park hosting the club for the previous 102 years.

In 1913 they toured Italy beating reigning champions Pro Vercelli, AC Milan and the full Italian national team, prompting the Corriere della Sera newspaper to proclaim "without doubt, Reading FC are the finest foreign team seen in Italy". During the second world war Liverpool captain Matt Busby played 40 games for Reading as a guest. More recently Ray Houghton has worn the colours of both clubs.

The club holds two English League records: the most consecutive wins at the start of the season (13 in 1985/86) and the longest period without conceding a goal (1103 minutes in 1979, with the wonderfully named Steve Death between the posts).

Club Honours

Football League Championship: 2006, runners-up 1995
Full Members Cup (a.k.a. 'Simod Cup'): 1988
Football League Second Division: 1994, runners-up 2002
Football League Third Division and Third Division South: 1926, 1986, runners-up 1932, 1935, 1949, 1952
Football League Fourth Division: 1979
London War Cup: 1940-41
FA Cup: Semi-final 1927
Football League Cup: Quarter-final 1996, 1998

We took a trip to the Hob Nob Anyone? forums to ask our usual mix of inane/brilliant questions.

How has the season been shaping up so far?

Hootus McFurby: Unbelieveable, I think that we were all quietly confident that we would be ok and probably stay up, but to get the points total that we have already is much more than expected.

Barry the bird boggler: Brilliant, best ever! Makes a change to have teams who can compete against us rather than us just slaughtering Football League fodder every week.

Royal Fleet: Not bad I suppose. Disappointed not to take all three points from 'the sh*t' but then away wins against Wet Sham and Colin's team were pleasing

Reading Abbey: We're dreaming, we must be!

PieEater: Much better than expected, if we we're honest. I think we expected to get tonked most games as we didn't add to the Championship significantly.

Mr Angry: Pretty well as expected up to the Man Utd game; a draw in that game was a bonus, as was beating West Ham away. It's great to have the "experts" already eating their words about us and for opposition supporters to have sat up and taken notice of us!

Worthingroyal: Excellent, I think we have proved a lot of so called pundits wrong.

Forbury Lion: Absolutely shocking, the defence is terrible and the lack of goals up front is a major concern ... but enough about Liverpool, let's talk about Reading and how underawed we are at this premiership malarky. Chelsea and Man Utd were shocking, although you wouldn't have thought it from the MOTD highlights and commentary.

AbovetheI: Brilliant, never would have expected the start we have made, and have proved a certain few doubters wrong.

What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?

Hootus McFurby: See previous answer, in reality I thought we would end up somewhere around 15th place but now really think that 10th or 11th is possible.

Barry the bird boggler: Thought we could get to a comfortable mid table position with a good wind behind us, not changed that view yet.

Royal Fleet: Most of us thought that if we played like we did last season then we could do OK, and so far so good. Avoiding injuries is the key for us.

Reading Abbey: Nope. Once we're mathematically safe then maybe we can review our targets but safety comes first, anything else is a bonus.

PieEater: Survival, and it hasn't changed.

Mr Angry: I thought we would survive relatively easily; maybe 14th or 15th. Right now, I still think that, though maybe a finish slightly higher is a real possibility - IF we can stay clear of too many injuries.

Worthingroyal: I predicted an optimistic 13th before season, now think top 10 is possible.

Forbury Lion: Day one was staying up, now it's a realistic expectation and no fears about relegation. Mid-table is looking like a realistic possibility.

AbovetheI: Our expectations are purely to avoid relagation in the first season, and gradually work our way to become an established Premiership team.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

Hootus McFurby: Hard to say as the most notable thing about us is our team spirit and understanding. Everyone plays for each other and doesn't want to let the team down. However, if pushed I'd probably say Sonko, Sidwell and Seol so far.

Barry the bird boggler: Dave Kitson (he may well play in the cup game as he completes his recovery from the attempted leg amputation he acquired thanks to Mr Riggott).

Royal Fleet: We don't have one, which is why we are consistent. We have a good team without being over-reliant on any one player (unlike your goodselves).

Reading Abbey: Number 13 - The fans. They've been top class so far and that really does make a difference out there. As for player, then Iba Sonko has been immense, as has all of the team.

PieEater: So far, Sonko and Seol. They will almost certainly not play as there is cover for them.

Mr Angry: Murty - many Reading fans last season were questioning whether he was good enough for the Premiership. His leadership of the team, both on and off the field, have kept the incredible spirit and tightness of last season's record breaking squad going into this season. After 7 games, I don't think there is a Reading fan who now questions his ability at this level.

Worthingroyal: Sonko and Seol, although both unlikely to play in the cup match. Shane Long should play up front and is lightning quick.

Forbury Lion: At the moment, Ibrahima Sonko.

AbovetheI: Steve Sidwell, Ibrahima Sonko & Marcus Hahnemann.

Your worst player(s)?

Hootus McFurby: No one really, as I said no-one wants to let the others down.

Barry the bird boggler: Difficult to say as no-one is bad (seriously no-one is bad). Convey's not been firing on all cylinders yet but then he's still been contributing in games. If there is a worse player he's going to feature in the cup game though.

Royal Fleet: Last season no 13 was a bit quiet at times, but this year has performed superbly. As mentioned Convey takes time to adjust.

Reading Abbey: John Halls. Currently in the reserves and not looking likely to ever make the first team. Lazy attitude and seems content to sit in the wilderness cashing his pay cheque each week.

PieEater: Of those that play regularly, Stephen Hunt; 200% effort, 2% skill.

Mr Angry: Worst is an ugly word; I think John Halls is one player who, when he has played, hasn't performed as well as we would have hoped he would.

Worthingroyal: Controversially I will say Harper has failed to impress.

Forbury Lion: No bad players, but some who will struggle to get in the team such as John Halls.

AbovetheI: John Halls. What's this guy all about? Signed for a nominal fee last season and has done nothing. Also Convey this season. A class act in the Championship, but this year he needs a kick in the arse.

What sort of line-up will be put out against us?

Hootus McFurby: Coppell likes to play the reserves in the Cup so I reckon you might give us a bit of a hiding which won't really give a realistic impression of our performance in the league game that follows

Barry the bird boggler: Reserves. Well that's possible a tad unfair to call them that let's say the players from the dark side of the moon.

Royal Fleet: For the cup game it will be almost totally (if not totally) a change from the League team.

Reading Abbey: It'll be a mixture of first team and reserves/benched players. Last season we had a great cup run using the same method and it will be the same this season. Expect around 6 changes to the side that played Arsenal at the weekend.

PieEater: Coppell will definitely stick with his second string and give the fringe players their time in the spotlight. Expect 7 or 8 changes from the league side.

Mr Angry: Steve Coppell knows where his priorities lie; the Carling Cup is an unwelcome distraction to him and he will use the Cup game to rest key members of the first team, and give match practice to our reserves to sharpen them up in case they are needed to step in for injuries and/or suspensions. Very few of the team we put out in the Cup game will start against you in the League match.

Worthingroyal: Almost full reserve squad.

Forbury Lion: We'll put our reseves out for the cup game, and first team for the league.

AbovetheI: In the cup, it will be an under strength team, in the league our full strength team will be put out.

Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

Hootus McFurby: Gerrard is the obvious answer but then he is a player who can change a game single handed.

Barry the bird boggler: Back in the days of Shanks, Paisley and Dalglish I would have said the ones in the red shirts. But these days Liverpool are not quite what they were, and Reading are so far removed from what they were that its now down to the standard names; Gerrard, obviously, Riise and Alonso for me although I don't expect them all (or any come to that) to be playing in the cup game.

Royal Fleet: Gerrard.

Reading Abbey: Stevie Gerrard. On his day that guy is the best midfielder in the world. Maybe one day we too will bring players like that through our academy, well we live in hope.

PieEater: Stevie Gerrard.

Mr Angry: I doubt if Stevie G will play in the Cup game, but he is an obvious threat to any team he is playing against! In the cup game the pace of Gonzales could be difficult to cope with.

Worthingroyal: Alonso.

Forbury Lion: Alonso, I'm worried his Renault might run me over in the carpark.

AbovetheI: It's hard to say seeing as Benitez changes his team every game so its impossible to say that player will play!

This is the first meeting between Liverpool and Reading, how excited are you about taking us on for the first time?

Hootus McFurby: Very, I have a lot of family on Merseyside, mostly Reds, so have had years of mickey taking for being a Reading Fan, it seems so strange to actually be playing you.

Barry the bird boggler: Not excited in the slightest, just another name! Personally though I am, I was a Liverpool supporter from the early 70s (I was 5, I didn't realise there was a local team until 1978 when I started supporting Reading and Liverpool became my favourite other side). Still hope we 'gub' the 'pool though.

I also thing there has been no direct transfers or dealings of any kind between the clubs and only a handful of players played for us after an appearance or two for Liverpool e.g. Ray Houghton.

Royal Fleet: I am looking forward to the league game more. It will be one of the highlights of the season for me to go to Anfield.

Reading Abbey: It's only the League Cup but at the same time it's a trip to Anfield and for me it's a special stadium. Full of history and in my opinion, the best supporters in the UK. I grew up a Liverpool fan and this will be a special moment to see little ol' Reading walking out at Anfield and hearing the Kop singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. I can't wait!!

PieEater: Perhaps excited is the wrong word, we're just enjoying the ride.

Mr Angry: More than when we played Wigan, thats for sure! To be honest, there IS a degree of excitement (more so for the League game) in playing Liverpool (as there was when we played Man Utd, and will be when we play Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs) but don't make the mistake that either the players or the fans will be star-struck by playing at such a historic venue, and against a team with as much history as Liverpool. There is a steel rod of professionalism that runs through Reading FC - don't expect us to lie down for either game (especially the League game).

Worthingroyal: More excited about the second meeting.

Forbury Lion: Nowhere near as excited as the Liverpool fans must be, playing one of the oldest teams in the league for the first time. I imagine it's comparable to winning the Eurpean Cup.

AbovetheI: Not that excited to be honest. At the end of the day you're just another team and lets be honest, you're not that excited about taking Reading on now are you?!?

How many Reading fans can we expect to make the trip up North?

Hootus McFurby: League game will definitely sell out, not so sure about the cup as it is midweek but as it is the first time we have ever played you I think that there is a good chance of selling that out too

Barry the bird boggler: Not as many for the Cup game as will make the effort for the league game a few days later. Presuming our allocation to be 3k for both, I reckon there could be about 1500 for the cup and a sell out for the league.

Royal Fleet: Cup game should sell out, and for the league game, the M40 will be chocka with Reading fans heading for Anfield and Man U fans heading up from Surrey.

Reading Abbey: It's hard to say, with it being the League Cup and all. But I would hope we could bring along about 2,000.

PieEater: Being mid week and a long way I'd guess 2000-2500.

Mr Angry: For the Cup game less than 1000; for the League game we will sell out our allocation.

Worthingroyal: Less than 1000 for Cup, Full allocation for League.

AbovetheI: In the cup, maybe 1,000 realistically it'll be about 500-750. In the league we'll sell out our allocation.

Do you have any favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an explanation?

Hootus McFurby: Not a great deal I must admit. "Sonko is Superman" and "We all dream of a team of Kevin Doyles" are pretty self explanatory.

Barry the bird boggler: Seol, Seol will tear you apart, again. Sonko is Superman (and he is, believe me).

Royal Fleet: The main one when the team comes out is URZ (pronounced U R's) which is a shortened version of 'come on you Reading'.

Reading Abbey: Sadly we lack creativity in this department but we do make a bit of noise, especially this season. It seems many of the fans have finally realised what passion actually is!

PieEater: URZ and odd songs about Oxford and Swindon.

Mr Angry: Nope - usually pretty unoriginal though the URZ's roar may make you wonder what is being said!

Worthingroyal: UURRRZZZZ and hopefully "Let's all do a Chelsea" becomes a big fave.

Forbury Lion: Let's all do a Chelsea (accompanied by diving actions).

AbovetheI: Bill Oddie Bill Oddie rub your beard all over my body, or any tedious new versions that our fans may come up with.

Has anyone been to Anfield before? If so, what were your thoughts?

Hootus McFurby: Several times, my Uncle was a season ticket holder for over 20 years so he used to take me to Anfield whenever we were staying with family and there was a game on. The Kop was awesome in the days of terracing. In fact the first game I ever saw was Liverpool/Everton although that was at Goodison during the 78/79 season when a certain Mr A. King scored a wonder goal to win it for the blues. I still have my 78/79 season Liverpool yearbook that he got me for Christmas signed by all the team including Paisley and Shankly as one of his mates was David Johnson who got everyone to sign it for me. I've been told that would fetch a fortune at auction but it will never be for sale. I wish he was still now here to see us play his team :(

Royal Fleet: Many times. Went to Uni in Liverpool (I think - it is all a bit hazy). To use a phrase often heard at the Mad Stad this year, I was there when you were sh*t. Saw many games of the Souness era.

Reading Abbey: I've been before to see England play, but not Liverpool.

PieEater: Many times, being a PieEater and a Woollyback I used to go a lot in the 70's during the glory days. I stopped when the paddock stopped being standing, and I didn't like standing in the Kop, so that tells you how long ago it was.

Mr Angry: Going for the first time - it'll be current stadium #76 or #77 for me!

Worthingroyal: No.

Forbury Lion: Yes, lots of people. Seen them on tv ... not me though and probably not many Reading fans.

AbovetheI: Never been myself, but I'll definately go to both games in the cup & league.

And finally, care to predict the score?

Hootus McFurby: 0-0.

Royal Fleet: Depends who turns up on the day. I reckon you will win the Cup game, League game is more difficult to predict.

Reading Abbey: I think we'll be up for it more than yourselves, and with that in mind I think we could grab a win. Liverpool 1 Reading 2 (Lita 2).

PieEater: Probably lose 3-1.

Mr Angry: Cup game - 3-0 Liverpool. League game - heart says 1-1, head says 2-1 Liverpool.

Worthingroyal: Cup 2-1 to Liverpool. League 1-1.

Forbury Lion: Liverpool 1-1 Reading. Benitez cunningly names 5 goalkeepers on the bench to ensure the draw.

AbovetheI: Cup will be 1-1, we'll win on pens and the League game will be 2-0 to you lot.

We did ask the Reading fans one more question "Who are your main rivals?" but it's resulted in all-out warfare on their forum so we thought it best to beat a hasty retreat before the watercannons were deployed. Take your pick from Aldershot, Oxford, Swindon, Chelsea, Wycombe, Bournemouth, Brentford, the two Bristols, Brighton, Wolves ...

Thanks once again to everyone on the forums over at Hob Nob Anyone? for their answers to our questions.

© Rushian 2006

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