As the final whistle went at the Madejski Stadium, I wonder if Ren Xuandong was wearing a wry smile.
Whether it be stubbornness, something about not losing “face” or just not wanting to fire yet another manager, his faith in Steve Cotterill appears to be starting at least to reap rewards.
Despite taking a fearful amount of flak online, the public support from the board for Cotterill has not wavered – and for now, it seems vindicated.
Two games, two wins, two clean sheets.
It’s not much in the context of a team that had the 90th worst record overall in the English League system last year – especially bearing in mind the money spent – but as the cliché goes a week is a long time in football, and the last week will have been pleasing for both Cotterill and Ren.
Of course, Blues remain in the bottom three, and there still 20 games to be played in the division. There is a long time remaining yet in the season – and sure, what could be a light at the end of the tunnel could turn out to be an oncoming freight train.
For Blues to make the “magical” 50 point mark that should see them safe, they still need to pick up 27 points from the next 60 – and the next few league games see tough trips to Preston and Sheffield Wednesday along with a home game against he-whose-name-can-no-longer-be-posted-on-a-BCFC-forum-without-it-turning-into-a-100-post-thread.
And of course, we have the open transfer window to contend with – and all the bullshit that comes with that.
There have already rumours doing the rounds that Che Adams was a “done deal” to be moving on elsewhere – something the club were keen to shut down quickly themselves.
With the FA Cup tie against Burton Albion up next, it’ll be interesting to see how Cotterill tackles that game.
Does he play fringe players to keep the important ones fit and healthy for the tough challenges coming, or does he play a strong side to maintain the winning momentum Blues are slowly building?
I can see arguments for either option – and I suspect those with firmly entrenched views on Cotterill will argue whatever he does supports their viewpoint – although again, I doubt we’ll see it as being “right” or “wrong” until maybe the end of January.
Whatever decision Cotterill makes with respect to that game, in the here and now there appears to be hope building once again – at least in the opinions of fans I see online.
Hope was something that the club seemed desperately short of a few weeks back – and it might just be that after the complete shitshow that 2017 was the club might just be getting things back on track – on the pitch at least.