It’s never easy being a Royals fan and after a brilliant victory against Leeds, Reading travelled to Bramall Lane full of confidence (well the fans did!) and looking to getting something out of the game against a high-flying Blades team.
What followed was a totally different performance against a very good Sheffield United side. Without the target man in Jon Dadi, Reading looked toothless with confusion abounding within the team.
Obviously the Sheffield United fans are looking at what Huddersfield did last season, and are already looking like the team to beat in this league. Buoyant, happy and elated are some of the words you can use to describe the tweets that are on their hashtags, and I struggled to find a single negative comment amongst them.
The greatest joy though that they seem to have is the gap/gulf/chasm (delete where appropriate) between them and their rival Owls team, as many before the season would have bet on their fortunes being the other way around. Credit has to go to Sheffield United though. Watching the game in the away end, I have to say that they played some majestic football and thoroughly deserved the win.
Can they go up this season? I wouldn’t bet against it at this moment.
This could actually happen!
We're going to be this season's Huddersfield, I tell thi. #twitterblades— David Jones (@jonesthescribe) October 21, 2017
Definition of “the one that got away”
Gonna go with fell asleep
God we know that feeling
We were really, really appalling
And onto the kit...
Probably would have played better
Looks like Reading team bus has broken down so they've selected 11 stewards to play instead #sufc— soft lad (@marksablade) October 21, 2017
Now, considering how high-flying Sheffield United are, the coverage was well, rubbish.
Starting with a bit of nothing, the round up from the Derby Telegraph highlights that it was ex-Rams player Coutts scoring arguably one of the best goals this season.
The Sheffield Star is gushing with rightful praise for Chris Wilder’s side and sums it up pretty nicely with saying that they had a phenomenal work rate and expansive style.
Over at the Yorkshire Post and they carry on in a similar vein again calling it a high energy performance from the hosts. They do however say that we are generally one of the more composed sides and that United capitalised by forcing the Royals into error after error.
Sky Sports are a little nicer to Reading, mentioning that we had a chance before the Coutts strike, but in reality I think they are papering over the cracks in our performance slightly. As usual there is the video
highlights nasty which runs for 1.51 and the defending for the second goal is even worse than when I watched it live. What three experienced defenders are doing letting Billy Sharp have the freedom of the six yard box is beyond me.
The BBC have an odd report saying that Sheffield dominated the opening 45 and we looked better after Stam’s half time team talk – really?? However, the quotes from the managers are probably true to form.
Finally and over at GetReading, Jonathan gets it bang on. Poor, disappointing, dismal, lacklustre, poor passing and rarely testing Blackman in the United goal are all facts that you will have difficulty arguing with.
Firstly huge credit has to go to the 1,150 fans that attended. I did tweet before the game that it’s amazing what decent pricing can do to attendance, but that’s a topic for another column.
Are we in crisis? I’m not sure - the adage that the Championship is a marathon not a sprint can be exemplified by our run to the title a few years ago, but this I cannot see happening again. Similarly, should we get rid of Stam? Currently I am still on the #StamIN side, as in reality who’s better in the current marketplace?
There is no doubt that there are good players in this team, and that Stam’s game-plans are somewhat baffling. To leave Sam Smith on the bench again when we are crying out for a goal scorer is baffling. I can understand the need to protect him, but what’s the point of him being on the bench if we ain’t gonna play him?
This season is now about damage limitation. Any harboring hopes we have of a trip to Wembley in May I feel are a little optimistic. The biggest worry for me is that we are relying on our Messiah - Yann Kermorgant at 35 years of age to rescue our season. Is that really the mark of a leading Championship side?
In this age there’s only two ways of getting a goalscorer - either pay mega bucks to land one or throw a kid in and hope they are the gem that you think. Let’s be honest, I can’t see Reading paying £15m+ for a proven goal scorer, so why not go with Sam Smith? Surely he can’t do any worse than Aluko/GMac/Beerens/Clement, can he?
On to Middlesbrough at home on Saturday and if ever a win was needed it’s then. If we lose, then lock the kitchen cupboards as the knives will surely be out.