Date: 31st December 2007 at 12:18am
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What made you support Reading mate?
I was kind of born into it. My Dad was a Reading fan and started taking me to games when I was ten (I’m 24 now). The following season he bought us a season ticket and have had one ever since!!

Are you happy with how your season is going so far?
After two fantastic seasons it is easy to feel a bit disheartened by the way we have started this season. Realistically, however, we are still finding our feet in the Premiership and despite a couple of very disappointing results, it could be a lot worse. If we can pick up a few points over the Christmas period, we should be looking ok for the rest of the season. Despite our high finish last season, our main priority is still survival, so in that respect I am happy at being 13th at this stage in the season.

From an outsider’s point of view Steve Coppell has done a fantastic job at Reading – how is the job he is doing being portrayed with the natives?
When Steve Coppell first took over, a lot of people were unsure of him, mainly due to his lack of enthusiasm! I remember a home game to Palace a couple of months after he took over. They beat us 0-3, and all the Palace fans were singing ‘Stand up, for Steve Coppell’. I just couldn’t understand how a man with such a lack of emotion could have become so popular with a group of fans, now I do! Since then, he has proved himself to be the most successful manager in our history.

Any true Reading fan will tell you that Steve Coppell is a genius. The season we went up everyone would have been delighted if we’d have sneaked into the play offs on the last day, but from no where we managed to win the league with a record amount of points! Like any manager, he does make the occasional bad substitution and has himself admitted he got the tactics wrong on a couple of occasions, but overall he has done an amazing job here and will forever be a legend.

He did not really sign many in the summer, but how do you rate the signings he did make?
It’s a bit difficult to rate them, as they’ve hardly played!! Cisse got sent off on his debut against Chelsea, Fae has played a couple of games and Rosenior played a few games out of position. From what I’ve seen, despite their lack of football so far, I think they are potentially three very good signings.

Fae looks to be very quick and has the ability to beat players, the only problem is that Coppell feels he needs more time to adjust to the English game after his move from France.

Cisse was very unlucky to be sent off against Chelsea and since then has been struggling with injuries. He’s going to get his chance now as Gunnarsson has picked up a knock, and I really hope he does well. Coppell has been very impressed with him in training, he is athletic and strong and apparently can pick a good pass, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on against Sunderland today.

Liam Rosenior is going to be a very good signing. He is currently out of the team as our captain Graeme Murty is first choice right-back. I think this will be Murty’s last season as a regular and can see Rosenior taking his chance when he gets it. Although it’s early days yet, I’ve got a feeling he’ll be a future England player.

Will he need more in January – and will he get them?
We definitely need to strengthen in January. A lot of fans were annoyed in the summer by our lack of ambition in the transfer market. Since then Coppell has admitted that he should have strengthened, and has been backed by the chairman to spend in January. Funds will definitely be available, whether or not we can get our targets is another matter.

Our priority at the moment is definitely a right-winger, as we don’t have a fit one in the team at the moment! Although I have heard a few rumours regarding a certain left sided Portsmouth player possibly making his way to the Mad Stad. We could also do with a keeper, another centre-back and a central midfielder. Not that I’m being greedy…

Who is the Reading danger man that Pompey should watch?
Most teams assume our main threat is Kevin Doyle, but I think Dave Kitson is the man to watch. He may look like a lanky target man, but he is actually an extremely talented footballer. His range of passing is fantastic and the boy’s got skills!! He’s also got an excellent goalscoring record for us, despite his injury setbacks.

Where do you reckon Reading will finish this season?
As I said earlier, our priority is till survival, so I would be happy with 17th! I think we will finish 13th though. Due to the strength of the teams above us, I don’t think we will be able to break into the top half this season, but with a couple of signings in January, we should be too strong for the teams below us.

What about Pompey?
I’ve been really impressed with Portsmouth this season and think Harry was very unlucky not to be considered for the England job, much to your relief I’d imagine! The way they’re playing at the moment, I think they should be strong enough for a UEFA cup spot. Saying that, there are some very good teams who will be sniffing around those places. Any three (assuming one of the ‘big four’ win the FA cup) from Portsmouth, Man City, Everton, West Ham, Blackburn, Newcastle, Villa and even Spurs can get into Europe this season so it will be tough. I’m going to predict Pompey finishing 7th.

If you could take any Pompey player from our squad and put him in yours, who would it be and why?
Well with Matty Taylor practically a done deal (or maybe not), I’m not going to pick him. I’m going to feed your ego a bit now by telling you that the Portsmouth team is so good that it’s very difficult to choose! I’d definitely like Sol Campbell, or David James, as they would add some much need experience to our back line. Although as they’re both in their late 50s I’m going to have to pick someone else.

The player I’ve been most impressed with this season, and would love to see in a Reading shirt is the man that’s ruined my summer, Niko Kranjcar. Every fan loves a flair player and he’s someone I really like to watch. He’s creative, got good technique and has scored some quality goals. He’s definitely got a bright future and I think Portsmouth should try they’re best to hang onto him.

Sorry, we could not talk about Reading v Pompey and not mention ‘that game’ could we! Where you at Fratton – either way what did you make of it?
I had a feeling this might come up!! Fortunately I was in Croatia at the time, getting text alerts. I was getting a text every five minutes I thought my phone was broken! At the time I was mortified, but looking back on it, it was just one of those freak games. I’ve seen the goals since, I reckon you could sell that game as Christmas DVD for sporting howlers. The defending and goalkeeping was absolutely shocking!!

Go on – who is going to win, Reading or Pompey?
We’ve been really good at home this season, but likewise you’ve been very good away. New Years Day was pretty decent for us last year, we beat West Ham 6-0. I’m not quite sure if we’re going to have a repeat of that game, but hopefully it will be a decent display. I think I’ll settle for a draw, I’m going to go for 1-1.

Questions answered by Chris Kitley from Vital Reading


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