‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Saturday’s preseason friendly against Feyenoord is a great chance for Reading to measure their progress a week ahead of the club’s first ever Premiership match. In Middlesbrough and Chelsea Feyenoord have certainly met two focused teams in the past week, but the visit to Reading is intriguing. Royals’ manager Steve Coppell is experienced enough to know that newly promoted sides have to hit the ground running. It all means that Feyenoord can expect a real battle at the Madejski Stadium.
The Rotterdammers will certainly be well received in Reading, whose 25,000-capacity stadium – named after chairman John Madejski – is sure to be packed out. The club were playing in the third tier of English football when the facility opened its doors back in 1998 and even flirted with relegation to the old third division in those early days.
Yet slowly but surely the Berkshire outfit got their act together on the pitch and started to climb up the leagues.
Under coming man Alan Pardew, Reading finally made it to the second tier, the Championship as it’s now been dubbed, in 2002, and a strong freshman season saw the club secure a playoff place, where they lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Pardew’s success quickly attracted attention elsewhere though, and West Ham United came in for the young manager in September 2003. There was a fear that the club would back-pedal in the wake of the loss, but with former England star Steve Coppell at the helm Reading have continued to advance. Last season saw the club take the division by storm, amassing a staggering 106 points from 46 games, including 31 wins and just two losses. Two goals on the final day of the campaign left Reading just one short of a hundred goals.
This season is not likely to be quite so plain-sailing for the Royals, but they’ll be hoping to emulate Wigan Athletic who did so well in their first ever Premiership season last term. Saturday’s last preseason test against Dutch giants Feyenoord will be a good indicator of their chances.