Cast your minds back to 1996... The Spice Girls were set to dominate the charts, Atlanta was gearing up for the Olympics and England was just months away from welcoming Euro 96 to our shores. Also in that year, Reading were drawn to face Manchester United in the FA Cup, something that sent the fanbase queuing around Elm Park to get their hands on the magical tickets. Fast forward to 2013 and as soon as Manchester United were revealed as our fifth round opponents, all you could generally hear was 'bugger'. That ladies and gentlemen is just how far we've come as a football club. One club that's remained as big is Manchester United and ahead of tomorrow's cup tie we spoke to Rory from United's SB Nation blog, The Busby Babe.
How have you viewed United's season so far?
Watching pretty much everygame, we have been unspectacular and frustrating at times. We sometimes start like a train and limp past the finishing post. Then, in the middle of Febuary you look at the league table and we are 12 points clear of City. We are still in the Cup, and we have just come away with a precious away goal at Madrid, and could have had more.
So on the whole, I am really happy. To use an Ian Holloway quote. She might not be the prettiest girl we have met, but we have gotten her in the taxi. Thats all that matters.
Is the FA Cup a priority this season? Or is it seen as a bonus competition used to give the fringe players a game?
The FA Cup is always going to be third on our list of priorities, behind the PL and the Champions League (In whichever order). Having said that, we have not won the FA Cup since we beat Millwall in the final, and I really want an FA Cup win after too long a wait. Also, some brilliant players in our squad have never won an FA Cup. Rio Ferdinand for instance. It would be nice to add that one to his collection.
Having said that, after coming off our Madrid game, look for some rotation to happen within our squad. We won't play the kids as such. But people like Nani, Young, Chicarito, Smalling and Buttner look set to feature.
United won 4-3 at the Madejski in a terrific game a few months ago. What did you make of that game and how have you viewed Reading this season?
I think that match had summed up our season at that point. Either a poor start or a poor finish. This time it was a poor start. Lousy defending at set pieces. You capitalized on both. It took a heroic effort from us to turn it round. Wern't all the goals in the first half?
After the break I remember us slowing it down and playing at a pace that suited us.
With all due respect, I havn't really seen too much of Reading. You seem like a typical first season team in that, you can either score goals and defend poorly, or defend well and score.... Not a lot.... Again, recently you have found a balance that suits you and credit must go to your gaffer. The hard work is not done yet though and you need to keep that form up to stay up.
You've won the FA Cup more times than any other side but are there any particular FA Cup memories that stand out for you over the years?
As an eight year old, I think this one will stick with me forever.
Beyond the obvious big names, are there any others that might be making a name for themselves on Monday night?
As I touched on earlier. Expect some rotation. Rooney and RVP have a chance at being rested. Also, I would be surprised if Carrick plays, who is our heartbeat in the engine room.
I doubt it would happen, but I would love if Nick Powell gets a run out. Only just returned from injury, the summer signing from Crewe has an eye for goal, although it appears Fergie thinks his future in a deeper role. He seems to have a wonderful passing range and great technical ability.
It's a difficult question, because predicting Fergie's starting line up is like trying to win the lottery, without adding 00000000's to my bank balance if I do strike gold
If you'll hold the sniggers, are there any Reading players that United are wary of?
Jimmy Kebe looks a really talented player. Done well in the Championship, and he appears to be settling well into the PL. I am sure you will need him to fire if you want survice in the top flight.
Also, your super sub Adam Le' Fondre is a little bugger. He single handily knocked my Aldershot out of the playoffs back in the day when Rotherham was his employers. Having said that, it is nice to see players who have played at that level being given their chance, so props to your club for that. Didn't he just get named player of the month for Jan. Says it all really....
Any tips for fans making the trek to Old Trafford?
You won't need ear muffs for the noise. The atmosphere will suck. Our home games can be loud for the big games, but even most PL games are quiet. So it will be the away contingent that will make some noise. Obviously it is a fantastic ground with great facilities.
It is a crime that I havn't actually been to Old Trafford, so I can't help you too much (You know, United fan living in Hampshire and all that....)
I really cannot see us losing. If you were at home you would have a chance, but even with a second string side, I think we win. Again, it might not be pretty at times. We might ride our luck, but I think we see this out.
We also might be playing Vidic at the back, seeing how he didn't figure in Madrid. That will help deal with the balls you will be pumping into the box. We usually look a lot more solid with out captain out there
Finally, where do you see both sides ending the season?'
First off, Reading. If you stave off Relegation, you would have done really well. After a poor start, you have done really well lately. I will be kind and say 17th
For us, I don't want to sound arrogant, but if we lose the PL from here I think I might have to hurt myself (Two years in a row would be no good for my own well being)
Im going to say we will win the FA Cup too. Obviously, the draw is very important. But if we do get through on Monday, the Cup is so open with the number of giant killings this year (Arsenal went out only a couple of hours ago)
I think we will get through at Old Trafford against Real Madrid in a thriller. Again it depends who we get in the next round. There are a number of fantastic teams in Europe this year. Dortmund and Munich are great sides. You have Juve who look really good. PSG with all their stars. And bloody Barca. So I will say we will be lucky to make the Semi's. But anything is possible.
Thanks to Rory and you can follow the guys on Twitter @TheBusbyBabe