Reading FC captain Liam Moore has drawn his fair share of criticism over the last couple of seasons at the heart of the Royals defence.

The club’s recent under-performing seasons in the Championship have been strewn with inconsistency, upheaval and a lack of both consistency and direction.

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Under the stewardship of Veljko Paunovic however, the new season has seemingly seen the club embark on a more categorised, unified, and recognizable approach to both on and off the field matters.

It has been a hugely welcome sight for Royals supporters who for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign can expect an exciting end to the campaign for the right reasons and begin to dream of the possibility of challenging for promotion.

The adoration of Royals fans has perhaps been best felt by players such as top scorer Lucas Joao, alongside exciting young duo Michael Olise and Omar Richards so far this season.

But one man who, I believe, has stepped up to the plate and perhaps even changed the course of his Royals career is Liam Moore.

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In recent seasons, Moore’s performances on the pitch have been put under the microscope given the less than impressive league positions the club has finished the seasons in.

As the man with the armband, eyes were cast on Moore for not leading his team on the pitch to success and even at times failing to influence the turnaround of games.

But in a season and period across society like no other, a lot of credit has to be given to the skipper for his approach to both off the field matters.

During the time he has spent on the sidelines, the 27-year-old has been seen travelling the length and breadth of the country to support his teammates.

A small gesture in some people’s eyes, perhaps, but a genuine example of Moore going above and beyond to be a representative of the club by supporting the team in his absence.

His engagement with Royals supporters during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic was also particularly admirable.

I’ve often wondered whether getting to communicate directly and compassionately with those fans may have given Moore the motivation to perform at a new peak this season.

Before his injury, he has been in consistently good form so far this season.

His concentration and focus seem to have improved, his willingness to put his body on the line has remained unwavering and his communication and leadership attributes on the field have been clear for all to see (and hear!).

The final point may be more a case of a rare benefit of games played without supporters and being able to hear the interaction from the press area, but the point remains valid.

His improved approach to games has seen him build a formidable partnership at the heart of the defence with the ever-consistent Michael Morrison.

Not only this, but his communication you feel has been vital in the largely efficient defensive performances so far this season overall and the form of both Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent.

Laurent, in particular, has embedded himself into the side seamlessly and has already established himself as one of the fan favourites for his consistent, tenacious displays.

Having someone like Moore and also Morrison behind him has undoubtedly aided Laurent easing himself into the side so impressively.

Also, as we have seen with the form of both Tom Holmes and Tom McIntyre, the competition for places upon Moore’s return may well give Paunovic more than a few selection headaches.

We saw Moore dropped to the bench at points at the end of Mark Bowen’s tenure due to a lack of form.

Despite his own impressive pre-injury form, Moore may have a task on his hand dislodging the current backline.

Indirectly, perhaps Moore leading by example this season may result in his missing from a few starting XI’s!

Time will tell on that one.

But one thing is for certain, if Moore continues his form and leads the side to a successful campaign, past claims of inconsistency and ultimately disappointment from the whole side will be a thing of the past.