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Tim Dellor's Royals Watching: Reading pile more pressure on struggling Barnsley

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Nobody would suggest being a football manager is an easy job, but some managers have the knack of making it look extremely difficult. Marcus Schopp, the new Barnsley manager, is a prime example.

He brought his team to the SCL Stadium last Saturday. They have won once this season, way back in mid August, despite finishing last season in the top six (before Schopp was in charge). He came in and completely revamped the style of play, which was unwise based on the success of the previous manager.

On Saturday he elicited the biggest cheer of the day from the mocking crowd when he attempted to retrieve a ball that had rolled out of play with some nifty footwork. His 1970s tracksuit bottoms were a couple of inches too short for him, revealing his white tennis socks. Surely that was not the reason he slipped flat onto his back, crashing into an advertising hoarding in the full glare of every fan?

Tim Dellor
Tim Dellor

Football crowds are an unforgiving lot. Schopp dragged himself back up and went for the “let’s pretend that didn’t just happen” reaction. I would have gone for the “I’m a clown, so I may as well milk it for laughs” approach, offering a little bow as I got back to my feet, or maybe the “I’m dead – someone get a stretcher and carry me away down the tunnel”. You learn a lot about a person in a situation like this.

It must have hurt both his backside and his pride, but the former Austrian international stoically continued. His team were far from good, but Reading were having an off-day, so made it to 77 minutes at 0-0. Then a moment of pure gold from Reading broke the deadlock. On his home debut Scott Dann pinged a pass from central defence out left and perfectly into the path of the onrushing John Swift. He controlled the ball with his chest into his path, and raced headlong with beautiful balance and poise, past a couple of defenders, across the keeper and slotted home. “Pure art” was how manager Veljko Paunovic described it afterwards. He was right.

There was just time for one more bizarre intervention from the man who’s antics threatened to overshadow the goal. Mr Schopp hooked off his brightest attacking threat in Callum Brittain, and at that point every Reading fan knew the game was theirs.

Veljko Paunovic has a difficult job at Reading, with 14 players out injured, a points deduction hanging over the club, high expectations from owners, Covid precautions still in place, working in a foreign country in a second language etc, etc, etc.

Markus Schopp also has a difficult job, but he is making it a whole lot harder with his decisions on the style of play, his carelessness in front of a decent sized crowd, and his substitutions. Good luck to Barnsley this season, for based on what we watched on Saturday they will need it. Reading will be hoping for some luck as they continue their run of games against teams beginning with “B” from the North. The win against Barnsley was followed by Blackpool at home and Blackburn away. Then it is Bournemouth at home, which before you write to The Editor, I am aware is definitely South.

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