The Thursday Preview: Reading Vs Cardiff

Posted by on May 12, 2011 in The Thursday Preview | 9 Comments
You know those political analyses that adorn the Sunday Supplements? The ones that purport to shed light on the Israel-Palestine conflict or the Global Recession? The ones that start off with “Farouk is a small boy” or “The Costanzo Family have lived in Palermo for generations”? The ones that reduce issues of wide geopolitical significance to the level of the individual? The ones that place micro issues in the foreground, thus exonerating politicians from blame for their actions?

Despite my distaste for this simplifying tendency, I apologise that this preview will also centre on a limited cast of characters.

Boxing Day 2008. Reading trail Cardiff City 1-0 thanks to a Michael Chopra goal. Injury Time. A corner. Up pops Royals’ goalkeeper Adam Federici, fully recovered from a Chopra nobbling earlier in the piece, to lash home unblinkingly and send the home support into raptures of relief.

27 months later and the Australian again takes centre stage.

He has more history with regard to Cardiff. As recently as February, one of his trademark kicks ended calamitously at the feet of Jay Bothroyd after a ricochet. That made it 1-1 in a game that was to conclude breathlessly with a Mathieu Manset prod, a Jon Parkin tumble, a right royal barney, a Craig Bellamy free kick and a three match ban for Mikele Leigertwood despite his not being sent off — a thunderously entertaining encounter that augurs well for the Sky Sports subscriber this weekend.

Federici is capable of Gordon Banks style saves and is a bawling presence, projecting his self-confidence on to a defence that excels or crumbles depending on mood. He’s an above average keeper for the Championship.

But when he got injured in the Spring, we saw the emergence of a future £5 million man in his stead — England under-21 custodian Alex McCarthy. As the Guildfordian’s talent crystallized, I was left remembering a time before, when the shot stopping Steve Francis gave way to the other worldly Shaka Hislop in 1993 — it was an epiphany. Suddenly, attacks were launched by way of throws to the full backs rather than hurried kicks, the long ball game was abandoned and, almost radically, crosses and corners were being caught. That scenario was beginning to repeat itself.

McCarthy was in nets for all of Reading’s 8 match winning run in March and April as well as the run to the FA Cup quarter finals. The result: greater solidity and a more pleasing passing game. This could be an above average keeper for the Premier League.

So, Brian McDermott’s decision to bring Federici back in for the regular season’s final trio of games was a surprise — “gut instinct” was the reason and who’s to question a man who has proved himself to be a master of team selection?

Two years ago, Steve Coppell surprised everyone by dropping Dave Kitson and Stephen Hunt for the play off semi final second leg against Burnley. The result, rumours of dressing room dustings down and a consequent lessening of spirit. Reading’s is a happier camp now but McDermott has a key strategic decision to make. I urge him to pick McCarthy.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Dave Stevens
    May 12, 2011

    I have a great deal of respect for Federici and rate him highly, but you need only look at the run that got us in to the playoffs and who was in goal for those games to see who should be picked.

    McCarthy, while raw in places, gives us the best chance of turning defence in to attack and is one of the more well rounded keepers I've seen come through of late. Genuinely believe he'll be England's No. 1 before the decade is out.

    No disrespect intended to Feds, McDermott must pick McCarthy.

  2. Readingfanman
    May 12, 2011

    Personally feel that Reading whilst having had this brillant run with McCarthy in goal would not do wrong to pick the most experienced keeper in this case. However, either should be good in goal.

    However, next season I feel is more of an issue, and I feel McCarthy should be aiming to claim the no 1 jersey as his own next season, it may of course land with him by default if Federeci leaves, if promotion is not gained.

  3. Lanterne Rouge
    May 12, 2011

    Cheers for your comments Dave and Alex – Alex is probably right – I can see McDermott giving Feds a last hurrah but I'd certainly start with McCarthy for next season – I really feel he has the makings of being one of our best ever players.

  4. urzz1871
    May 12, 2011

    McCarthy all the way for me. Whenever Federici is in goal I feel his positioning and concentration is always suspect, and I'm always half expecting a calamity to happen.
    I don't get with McCarthy – he gives an impression of quiet command as though he was born to play there.

  5. Lanterne Rouge
    May 15, 2011

    I am afraid that problems with Blogger on May 12 and 13 led to 4 comments made on the bottom of this post disappearing. So, apologies to Shakefon, readingfanman and urzz1871. There was general agreement with the thread of my post although readingfanman felt that McDermott would plump for Federici due to the experience factor – correctly, as it turned out.

  6. Lanterne Rouge
    May 18, 2011

    Fair play to Federici for two clean sheets.


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