Match of the Day pundits will never scare me
August 14, 2006
JAMES HARPER says he can handle the fierce scrutiny of being a Premiership footballer and any stick the Match of the Day panel throws at him.
The midfield ace knows he and his team-mates’ every move will come under the spotlight following promotion to the top flight for the first time in the club’s 135-year history.
Royals are now battling it out with some of the world’s biggest clubs in the world.
Harper, though, insists the extra attention will not bother him.
He said: “When we will be in the Premiership we will be scrutinised so much more and that means we will get a lot more stick and that is something we have to be prepared for.
“We didn’t get much criticism last season because of how well we did, but this season we could get a lot more grief.
“But it doesn’t worry me. You get used to it during your career. Newspapers have massive influence on people with their marks out of 10, but it’s all just opinion and you just have to get on with your game.
“We’re also going to be on Match of the Day, but I’m not worried about what they will say about me on that. If you have a good game then great, if not you can’t worry about it. You have to take the rough with the smooth.”
Harper is currently battling to be fit for the Premiership opener at home to Middlesbrough on August 19.
The 25-year-old suffered a groin strain on the training ground two weeks ago and has yet to feature in any of the club’s pre-season matches so far.
And the midfielder is taking his frustrations out on manager Steve Coppell’s dress sense in a bid to keep his sanity.
Royals’ boss raised a few eyebrows when he turned up at the club’s annual golf day at Sandford Springs recently dressed in shorts and long socks.
“I fined the gaffer £100 the other day for the clothes he wore at our golf day,” joked Harper. “The shorts were shocking and his socks were pulled up to his knees.
“He looked like a school kid from the 1930s! Apparently his clothes were really expensive, but I’ve told him he should have kept the receipt and taken them back.
“He’s not bad at golf. He’s got a good swing, but he looks shocking.
“He’s also got a new car now and it looks like a taxi. I am giving him plenty of banter and I don’t think he’s best pleased with me, but he can’t drop me because I’m injured!
“He asked me the other day how my injury was and when I was going to be back and I said maybe the Feyenoord game.
“He reckons that will be a really hard game to come back.
“I just hope I don’t embarrass myself.”