Coppell: We Need To Be More Consistent

Last updated : 26 January 2004 By Rob Cooper
The Royals have only managed to pick up four points out of the last eighteen, leading boss Steve Coppell to exclaim that his side 'must be more consistent' if they are to get their ticket for the end of season play-off lottery.

Last season, against the odds the Royals battled to a fourth place finish and were very unlucky to lose in the play-off semi-finals to Wolves. However, this season the Madejski Stadium side have found victories much harder to come by. In particular, the club's Xmas run made for particularly unhappy viewing.

Despite the poor form, Reading lie just four points adrift of sixth placed Wigan with eighteen games left to play. Indeed, this time last year the side which did so well found themselves just one point better off. So there is still plenty to play for.

Things appear to be on the up, Coppell's side got things back on track in their last league game, a Scott Murray goal just before half time gave the Royals a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest, their first victory for over a month.

With the season preparing to enter its final third, the Reading manager reckons his side can aim high if their consistency returns.

Coppell told the Reading Evening Post: "We have a mountain to climb to emulate last season, but I think the points total will be less to get in the play-offs this year as everybody is beating each other.

"Four points behind (sixth placed Wigan) is not a great deal but we've got to be a lot more consistent than we have been."

At home is one area in particular that the Royals need to look to improve, a point Coppell freely admits. Defeats at home to Preston, Crystal Palace and Wimbledon have hardly made for happy viewing.

The ex-Brighton boss added: "We have 18 games left and some exceptionally hard home games. Our home form recently has been very, very poor – as the crowd have let me know all too readily."

Reading will kick the first of the last eighteen matches off at 3pm on Saturday when Derby are the visitors to the Madejski Stadium. The Royals will need all three points if Coppell is serious about making the play-offs this season.

On Paper at least, the game should be an easy one as the Rams currently lie in the bottom three, but then nothing has proved 'easy' for Reading of late.

Recently there has been yet more transfer speculation, various names have been linked with a move to the Madejski Stadium following the recent departures of Darius Henderson and John Mackie.

But Coppell confirmed that whilst he is in the market for new players he reckons what he's got is good enough to launch his side into a top six spot.

"We are looking to strengthen in certain positions, but I'm pretty happy with the squad I've got. I think we have enough to cope with most things but we just need to start delivering results," he concluded.