Ahead of our match with Reading on Saturday, I put forward some questions to Dan from the Tilehurst End blog to catch up on all things Royal.
1. Obviously you haven't had the best start to the season. Why do you think this is? And what can be done about it?
I think the toughness and general irregularity of the schedule hasn't helped us one bit but I don't think many players will be able to hold their hands up and said they've performed as well as they should either. Facing Chelsea, Tottenham, Newcastle and Liverpool inside your first seven isn't easy and when you throw in trips to the Hawthorns and the Liberty Stadium you can't sit there and pick out many games where you'll fancy your chances of all three points! Reading's success last year and the year before that was built on getting into a rhythm but when you've had 7 games in 2 months and add in 8 new signings that becomes near impossible to do.
2. Now you've come into some money, would you like to see some major transfers in January and next summer, or would you rather your club played it safe and lived within its means?
While we've had an increase in investment I don't think we've got the type of money that you've seen Man City or Chelsea splashing around and the message from the new owners has always been that we'll be run sensibly but with increased investment in things like the academy, scouting etc. We have seen a minor increase in spending on wages and we're led to believe the money is there if we do need a new signing or two, something that it looks like we'll need to spend to ensure a more comfortable second half of the campaign. That being said I don't want us to go mad and bring in generic expensive players because as QPR have shown, that can sometimes do more harm than good!
3. What part of the field is strongest in the Reading line-up? And who's your best player?
Not the most glamorous position but I'd say we're blessed with three or four very good goalkeepers, so it's a shame we can only play one! Despite his high profile errors to start this season, Adam Federici is still an outstanding and relatively young 'keeper while Alex McCarthy has already won plenty of plaudits for some fine displays this season. Add in former Danish U21 goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen and former Man City and Arsenal No2 Stuart Taylor and we're certainly well covered in that area.
4. And what is your most fragile area?
Hard to say because each position has had its blips but right now I'd say we're looking light in the centre of the midfield. Mikele Leigertwood has had a miserable start to the year while Danny Guthrie hasn't fit in to the point he's said he doesn't fit in with our style of play on Twitter. Jem Karacan has been hit and miss and is now out for a month while Jay Tabb works hard but really he's a Championship player.
5. Your thoughts on Fulham?
Fulham are a team that constantly amaze me year after year as I've waited for the bottom to fall out and it never does! When Al Fayed stopped spending millions on the likes of Marlet (snigger) I wondered if maybe the jig was up for your guys but refreshingly you've managed to beat the odds and achieve great success with sensible management and some astute signings. The likes of Duff, Murphy, Hangeland, Schwarzer, Zamora and Berbatov have all been very shrewd bits of business over the years and you've got great seasons out of players many others had written off.
I've also heard nothing but good things from visiting fans about the atmosphere at the Cottage and many say it's their favourite place to watch a Premier League game. While part of me still remains skeptical about whether Fulham are 'big enough' to survive in the long, long term I'm more than happy to be proved wrong season after season as it gives hope for clubs like Reading that you can succeed in this division without spending millions.
All that being said I'll never forgive you guys for that sensational run to survival in 2008 that saw you stay up on goal difference at our expense!
6. And who are you most worried about facing from the Fulham squad?
Berbatov is a man who haunted us when he was at Spurs, memorably scoring four times in a 7-4 win at White Hart Lane in our relegation season. Players like Duff have been there and done it so their nous will be a constant threat and Steve Sidwell will want to put in a good showing against his former side.
We really need to win this one and Brian has been great at getting a reaction out of his team when the chips are really down. Fulham haven't got a great record on the road and despite our woes, only Spurs have beaten us at home this season so I'm going to be optimistic and say that Reading will come away with a 3-1 win.
Thanks very much to Dan and pop over to their website for some great content and, also, my own answers to their questions at The Tilehurst End.