Behind Enemy Lines: Reading

MILLWALL return to the The Den tomorrow looking for a third straight league win on their own patch after victories over Brentford and Luton.

Gary Rowett’s side face Reading, one of only two teams to beat Millwall since the arrival of the former Birmingham City manager.

Alex Grace spoke to Royals fan Jimmy Coulson this week.



Twitter: @Jimmy_Coulson

Why do you support Reading?

They are my local side as I was born about 15 miles away in Newbury. Also, my family (past and present) have been going to games regularly since the 1940s.



What has been your favourite season following the Royals?

I have been fortunate in my 25 years supporting the club to see our 'twilight years', so I have to say 2005-06 when we won the Championship with 106 points.

The team that year were very special. Also our first year in the Premier League as well.

Mark Bowen was a deeply unpopular appointment at the time but his reign has started well – what are your thoughts on that decision now?

I think we are all eating humble pie now, including myself.

He has transformed us into a really tough side to score against, as well as continuing to play good football going forward.

It feels like the start of something special again and it is nice to be looking up the table for the first time in a few years.

The transfer window is now open – do you think Reading need to strengthen and if so where?

I think we have to up front now due to Lucas Joao being ruled for three months. He played the lone striker role perfectly over the past couple of months and we did struggle without him in the first half at home to Nottingham Forest last Saturday.

Glenn Murray is the ideal target as he spent time with us a few years ago. A central midfielder for further competition would also be beneficial.

Are you worried clubs might come in for the likes John Swift?

Absolutely. He is the heartbeat of our team and when he is on form we are difficult to stop.

Five goals and seven assists this season show he has added consistency to his game as he has always had huge ability. We expect the vultures to circle in the summer, but it would take a huge bid for our owner to consider.

What are your thoughts on Millwall manager Gary Rowett?

Has a lot of pedigree. Did well at Burton and was surprisingly replaced at Birmingham after being around the play-offs.

I always felt the move to Stoke after a decent season at Derby was a big risk and I feel he has a point to prove now at Millwall.

It is a really good match and I haven’t been surprised by your resurgence up the table towards the play-offs.

What have you made of Millwall’s season to date?

They have done really well, but I haven’t been surprised if I am honest.

I thought with Rowett in charge it was a good fit, though it is such an open division where you can rise or fall very quickly. Consistency is key on and off the field and I feel you will be up there come May.

If you could sign one Millwall player, who would it be and why?

Jed Wallace. I have been Impressed every time I have seen him and what a goal at our place a couple of months ago.

Also a fan of Connor Mahoney, always thought he had a decent delivery on him. You have a lot of decent players there currently (including a fair few former Royals!).

Who will be your key men on Saturday?

Already mentioned John Swift earlier, but Raphael Cabral in goal will be busy no doubt and he is a top keeper at this level.

Ovie Ejaria is very pleasing on the eye with his close control and technical ability so expect to see him giving your right-back problems.

Tyler Blackett has linked up well with Swift recently to provide a number of assists from left-back so the left-hand side will be a big focus for us on Saturday.

Will you be at the game?

Unfortunately not this time, but I will be listening in.

What is your predicted Reading starting line-up and formation?

4-2-3-1: Cabral; Gunter, Moore, Morrison, Blackett; Pele, Adam; Meite, Swift, Ejaria; Baldock (could be Puscas)

Score prediction?

If we can keep the ball on the deck and play to the strengths of Sam Baldock or George Puscas then I feel we will be dangerous going forward, as we were at home in the first half in November.

You are a difficult side to beat, though, and have a decent home record.

I will go for a hard-fought 2-1 win for us.

Graphic: @ShedCreative

Staff

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