Is Matthew Benham having a change of heart as a hero returns for Reading?

29 Aug

The pitch is laid and Reading await. We have a new p.a. system set to ‘go live’ whilst there is the small matter of Sam Saunders being back in the squad. After defeat at Burnley last weekend and, all being well, the turf malfunction now being rectified, perhaps we can approach Saturday’s game with even more of a spring in the step than usual.

First up, the pitch. It’s been no secret how bad this has looked with everybody from Reading boss Steve Clarke to Marinus weighing in on the subject and, as such, no surprise that this week has seen the surface entirely re-laid.

Whilst an article on the official site has advised fans they may notice “small join lines when attending Saturday’s match” we’ve also been promised this won’t affect play. Marinus has also gone on record as saying that when he saw it earlier in the week, it was looking “very good”.

The 'official' pitch photo released by the club this week

The ‘official’ pitch photo released by the club this week

Of course, the real acid test will begin at 3pm Saturday but, one would hope, we can put an end to the problems that have blighted Griffin Park so far this campaign. And with the onset of International break after the Reading game, fingers will be crossed that if we get through this one unscathed then it really will be a case of ‘business as usual’ when we use it again in late September.

Aswell as the pitch, supporters will also be treated to the ‘beefed up’ public address system. Any regular reader to these pages will know that the tinny sound quality and inaudible announcements on the Ealing Road have long been a source of frustration.

Now, we’ve been promised, “a significant improvement to the quality of both music and announcements by Peter Gilham on matchday in all home areas.” By quality of music, I can only presume they mean the noise levels rather than Big Bees Radio’s selection of the latest 45”s. To be fair, our in house DJ has been on a very much rockier vibe so let’s hope that continues.

One place music is definitely not welcome at Griffin Park is to help celebrate goals. Other clubs have opted for the use of “Goal Music”, something I can’t stand. It’s up there with ‘half and half’ scarves as things that should not be allowed within a square mile of a football stadium.

If you really need a burst of “Chelsea Dagger” or “Let me Entertain You” to help liven proceedings after finding the back of the net then there’s something seriously wrong. To be fair, there’s something seriously wrong about needing The Fratellis in any walk of life, but that’s another column for another day.

At least Matthew Benham is in agreement on this one. He has taken to Twitter several times in the past to confirm that this is something that Brentford will never do.

Not my words but those of Matthew Benham

Not my words but those of Matthew Benham

So it was with interest I watched the game between FC Midtjylland (of course, his other club) and Southampton on Thursday night. What should we get as the Danes took the lead but a snatch of Coldplay (Viva La Vida, I believe) to help ‘lift’ the mood further.

It seemed a random choice at best. Coldplay, officially the wettest band since records began, whilst certainly troubling the hit parade on more than one instance are hardly the masters of uplifting stadium rock. More crucially, is this a European ‘thing’ or could it herald a change of heart from Mr. Benham?

The thought of being treated to a snatch of ‘Jump in my Car” when The Hoff scores is too much on too many levels. Mr Benham, if you are reading then I implore you to please leave the celebrations to the crowd and the goal music to the Danes.

Jump in my car. Just not after a goal

Jump in my car. Just not after a goal

That said, I’d forgive us just about anything if Sam Saunders gets to put in an appearance today and, better, celebrates with a goal. The ever popular wing wizard is finally back in the squad and with the team seemingly more concerned with going sideways and backwards at Burnley, I’d love to see him let loose on Reading.

To be fair, I think we’ll see a much more attacking display anyway. Marinus has made no secret of how important three points are to him today. Maxime Colin was one of the few to come away from Turf Moor with universal plaudits and he may well start this one. With the option to push Alan Mac into centre mid and Nico Yennaris, along with Sam, also deemed fit then we could see a change or two. At the very least, on the bench.

Brentford managed to secure all six points against Reading last season and so, much like the pitch, it will be a very interesting test of how well our new squad and management are bedding in. That said, nothing is certain in football – just ask Derby County.

I couldn’t end today’s article without thanking the visitors for their stunning performance at Pride Park at the end of last campaign. Jaws dropped lower and lower as, with Derby only needing a point to secure one of the play off berths that Brentford were also fighting for, goal after goal flew in for the visitors.

Reading may not realise just how significant a part they played that afternoon in how events unfolded at Griffin Park. The excitement of relying on other (no offence) improbable results and them actually coming off – see also Blackburn Rovers thumping Ipswich – was unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

Oh, how I’d love more of the same this season. Can we continue things today?

At 3pm, we find out.

Nick Bruzon

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