It’s time for another guest article now as Reading fan Oliver Walsh – who you can follow on Twitter here returns. This week Oliver gives us his view on how the Championship Playoff Final between Reading and Huddersfield will pan out. As always Oliver it’s over to you
The most valuable game in world football.
With the opportunity to trade the 6,900 seater Pirelli stadium for Old Trafford, with over 75,000 pairs of eyes transfixed on your every move.
To swap pennies for pounds. £170m pounds.
To exchange lining up against Peter Odemwinge, for testing your abilities against Eden Hazard.
This colossal encounter is the Playoff final, and is contested between two unlikely candidates: Reading Fc and Huddersfield Town.
Both clubs have reaped the rewards of thinking outside of the box when selecting a new manager in recent years.
Reading’s appointment of Jaap Stam in the summer surprised and intrigued everyone – as despite the Dutchman’s indubitable pedigree as a player, which gained him deserved respect – the Royals job was the 44-year-old’s first managerial post.
Likewise, Huddersfield decided upon Borussia Dortmund assistant manager David Wagner. The German has consequently implemented the tactics and management style he learnt when serving under close friend and Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp.
Both Reading and Huddersfield finished with abnormally low goal differences and expected goals, implying they have fortuitously over-performed this season. However both sides’ consistency is undeniable, with Huddersfield remaining in the top six for the entire season and Reading not dropping out since Christmas.
This consistency and ability to grind out results with 1 goal margins is perhaps a reflection of their forward thinking systems, subverting from the football league familiarity of direct and physical play.
Wagner’s side mirrors Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund side and is best described by Wagner himself, explaining his side exemplifies the characteristics of Huddersfield’s nickname; the Terriers.
“We now call it the Terriers’ identity,” Wagner told the Guardian. “Exactly the style of football I love is like a terrier.
“We are not the biggest dog, we are small, but we are aggressive, we are not afraid, we like to compete with the big dogs and we are quick and mobile and we have endurance.
“We never give up. This small dog has fighting spirit for sure.”
This metaphor explains the Terriers’ high pressing, tactically astute and fluid 4231, which typifies Aristole’s quote: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Huddersfield Town spent only £3m in the summer in a league where their competition have spent ten times that, using the loan market to great effect, with instrumental signings Aaron Mooy, Kasey Palmer and Elias Kachunga at the Terriers on season long loans.
Jaap Stam’s Reading side also play a style born in Europe, with the Royals reaching the playoff lottery as a result of their possession based Dutch style, which Stam picked up from his time at Ajax.
Following a period of adjustment in the beginning of the season, the Royals squad became confident and patient in possession as well as disciplined in defence.
Stam started with a 433 however switched to a 352 mid season, which accentuates the qualities of the Royals’ wingbacks, defenders and ball playing midfielders.
Like Huddersfield, Reading had little to spend in the summer, yet managed to uncover gems such as Liam Moore and John Swift in the transfer market for next to nothing.
Although Yann Kermogant has scored 19 goals this season, 10 of them have come in his last 10 games, and Reading have scored goals from all over the pitch, showing their unpredictability and lack of reliance on one player in attack.
There are many parallels between the two finalists, so much so that it is near impossible to predict the winner of this monumental match, which will most likely to go into extra time if not penalties, where Ali Al Habsi will be the hero for Reading.
Thanks Oliver and as always I look forward to your next installment
If you would like to give a view from your club or a particular competition on a weekly basis then please get in touch – you can email me at – firstname.lastname@example.org