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The remarkable rise and rise of the Royals

At the start of the season, Newcastle were not expecting to be challenging for a Champions League place.

It’s a similar story down in ‘leafy Berkshire’, where the Madejski Stadium is playing host to one of football’s most remarkable transformations this season.

Reading have so far enjoyed two years in the Premier League, finishing eighth at their first attempt.

And, after missing out on promotion in the play-off final last season, it looks like the Royals are about to return to football’s top table.

But this time it’s different.

Steve Coppell went down in history as a legend at Reading after taking them up – and for the magnificent campaign that followed.

So much more

If, as expected, Brian McDermott takes the Royals to the promised land, it will mean so much more.

The former Arsenal midfielder has a long association with Reading FC, having joined the club as chief scout 12 years ago.

McDermott also managed the club’s under-19s and reserve team, before taking over as first team caretaker manager following the departure of Brendan Rodgers in December 2009. He was given the job on a permanent basis the following month.

Two years later and the Royals look set to reclaim their status as a Premier League club.

But that looked far from likely at the beginning of the campaign, as the side experienced a play-off final defeat hangover.

Relegation places

After a couple of half decent results, the Royals were a top 10 side, but a poor run of form followed and they found themselves in the relegation places.

Results improved, but there was still no real hint of the dramatic run that was to follow as Reading settled into a mid-table position.

Midway through the season, everything changed. With a new Russian billionaire on board, Reading were suddenly going places fast and some good business by McDermott in January, including the acquisition of Jason Roberts, was football’s equivalent of a rocket launcher for McDermott’s side.

A good run of results pushed them up to the fringes of the play-offs – and they kept going, and going, and going.

Not content with settling for a play-off spot, the Royals just kept on winning.

Top spot

A 4-2 win at West Ham was soon followed by a magnificent 3-1 victory at leaders Southampton that took them into top spot for the first time, and it looks likely that they will stay there.

A glance at the form table tells you all you need to know. Reading have won 14 and drawn one of their last 16 games.

The future is looking bright for the Royals.

With any club who can include the words ‘billionaire’ and ‘investor’ in a description of their set-up, there is a good chance that the team will do well.

But when you add to the mix a club whose chairman and manager are committed to doing things ‘in the right way’ you have a side who now have everything in place to go on and establish themselves in the Premier League.

By Mark Roach

Twitter: @TotalFootballEd

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