McCleary on the manager, his teammates and how the fans can back the boys!Leading the goalscoring and our assist charts, Garath McCleary became the latest first team star to put pen to paper on a new contract with the club yesterday and he is full of positivity as we head into a second half of the season with a real purpose!
"I’m over the moon," he told Reading FC Player on Tuesday afternoon. "I’m very happy to finally get it done and a big thank you goes out to the people behind the scenes at the club and the people representing me. And the gaffer...he is a big reason why I signed this contract.
"You could ask any of the boys – we’re all thriving under him, he has been fantastic since he has come in. He is a big factor as to why we’re doing so well this season. It’s been a new lease of life and I’m really happy.
"At this moment in time I am one of the longest serving first team players, so it’s great to commit my future – I’ve always stated that I wanted to stay, my family are happy and I am really enjoying my football, so long may that continue!"
McCleary made his debut as a second half substitute for Hal Robson-Kanu against Stoke City on the opening day of our Premier League season in 2012. Four and a half years later he remains one of the key cogs in the Reading Football Club wheel.
"It’s great that the club wanted me to stay first and foremost – it’s always nice to feel wanted. I’ve been here for a while now… nearly five years, and at the end of this contract, it’ll be eight! It's a contract I have wanted to sign for a while.
"I think this year is is the most I’ve played come this point in the five seasons I've been here so far – training has been fantastic, the players have been brilliant this season and everything is going really well.
"There is a definite togetherness – there are a lot of players that are quite young, and there are a few like myself that are more experienced. There’s a good bond and everyone gets on well. There are no cliques in the squad and we’ve had a few team bonding sessions, which have brought the team closer together as well.
"You’re going to need that – the knowlege that you’ve got people on your side, players that will run a bit more for the man next to them. We’ve got that in abundance in the squad.
"And I’ve got nothing but plaudits for the gaffer and the way we’re playing this season. He is trying to build a squad to go forward and do well in this league.
"Hopefully we can continue to push and try to reach the play-offs. And hopefully we can go on to do well in the Premier League if we can get up. It’s looking up for this season and for the seasons to come."
And McCleary also took the opportunity to issue a rallying to the home fans to get behind a team who are sitting in fourth place ahead of a trip to Derby County this weekend and then back-to-back home games against Fulham and Cardiff City next week.
"I’ve stated on many occasions that we need fans behind us. They’re our 12th man and they can really push us on to get more results. We’re in a position that people in the press and some of our fans didn’t think we’d be in. We’re exceeding expectations.
"So now is the prime time for people to get behind us and back us, and to make as much noise as they can – I’m telling you now, it does make a difference! If you can get to any games, or even just get behind us when you see us in the street, then we’ll be more than grateful."
Tickets for our trip to the iPro Stadium are still available, while any of the 21,000 who came to the abandoned Fulham match at the end of 2016 can claim a free ticket to next week's rearranged meeting with Slavisa Jokanovic's men at Madejski Stadium. Listen to Garath...pick up a ticket, back the boys and make some noise!