A truly sad moment for Reading fans as the club failed to make it to the Premiership losing to Burnley in the playoffs. It should not have come to this as the Royals had a number of chances for promotion but their miserable home record proved their undoing, as they lost their last nine matches in a row.
Steve Coppell resigned with minimum fuss, great dignity, and no excuses. It was quintessential Coppell. They are a vanishing breed as finger pointers have taken over the game.
I became a big fan of Coppell when the Royals were promoted to the Premiership in 2006 and their success that season lighted up the league. Their first match was a 3-2 win against Boro. Dave Kitson was injured in that match and was out till January but players like Kevin Doyle, Seol Ki-Hyun, Leroy Lita, and Steve Sidwell stepped up admirably.
Apart from a Steve Hunt moment where he attempted a prefrontal lobotomy on Petr Cech (the Chelsea goalie now wears protective headgear), the club preferred to make news with their performances. The Man Utd encounters provided some choice moments. Reading refused to go away in both Premiership matches. The highlight was the FA Cup fifth round that gave Sir Alex some very anxious moments as Reading fought back through Kitson and Lita after Man Utd had seemingly wrapped up the match in a three goal blitz in 6 minutes.
The Royals ended in 8th position with Doyle and Lita combining for 27 goals. The season threw up Steve Sidwell as a player to be watched for. Chelsea came knocking. Coppell was deservedly voted as manager of the year. The achievement was accomplished with the most minimal of sideline shenanigans as Coppell's stoic and unflappable visage became an enduring image.
A reason for their strong first season was Reading's super efficient scoring. They were the most accurate of all clubs. They scored a goal every three attempts. The number was significantly better than Man Utd, Liverpool, and Arsenal.
Doyle, Lita, and Sidwell were not just goal scorers, they were snipers.
So thanks for all the great memories, Steve. Here is hoping this is a brief interlude and you come back to coaching again.