WHERE would we be without Yakou Meite?
The Ivorian striker, who was deservedly rewarded with an international call-up this week, has been in something of a purple patch recently, and keeps on bailing Reading out of trouble.
Last Saturday’s game, when Meite’s acrobatic brace secured a 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town, was just the latest example. In recent weeks he’s also netted a vital opener against Bristol City, a match-winning double against Millwall, and a consolation at Birmingham City.
There’s one common denominator for all those goals though. They’re the hallmarks of a man bursting with confidence – and that’s something which cannot be said for many Reading players at the moment.
Who else in this squad would have the sheer audacity to – with his team 1-0 down – pull away from his marker and bicycle-kick the ball at goal from a tight angle? Who else would have been able to pull off the deft, glancing header that gave Reading the lead against Millwall?
Meite’s form is gold-dust for this team at the moment, and long may it continue.
What’s more, this is no random run of form – Meite’s goalscoring streak has been a long time coming. The youngster reacted to a stop-start opening season in Berkshire with hard work – first on loan at Sochaux and then this season.
We’ve seen too many bright talents scuttle their own careers by taking their own progress for granted. Meite’s character though can’t be faulted. If he ultimately doesn’t make the grade at Reading, it won’t be for want of trying.
The decision to hand him a four-year deal seemed bizarre at first but, to their credit, Paul Clement, Ron Gourlay and Gianluca Nani are looking more and more vindicated by the week.
They could do a lot worse than build a squad of hard-working, positive players like Meite.
Simeon can be found on Twitter @SimFromBucks and his Reading fansite account is The Tilehurst End.