Fair play to anyone who wants to take the hot-seat at the Mad Stad, as Saturday evening proved the mammoth task they’ll have on their hands. Sheffield United were head and shoulders above Reading in every department, especially in the second half. Reading had no bite going forward and looked vulnerable every time the Blades mounted an attack.
Saturday evening also proved that a big part of the current mess is the players. Ron Gourlay’s recruitment, combined with Paul Clement’s management capabilities and the quality of players in the dressing room, was just a recipe for disaster.
The fans were understandably angry, upset and distressed at what they witnessed against Sheffield United. Yes, Chris Wilder’s team are a good team in the play-off positions, but that second half was easy for them, summed up by the Royals failing to get a shot on target all game.
Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points...
Possibly the worst of the season so far? And there’s been a few. The lack of quality is frightening, it really is. We look lost without Yakou Meite or Jon Dadi Bodvarsson as a focal point. Marc McNulty and Danny Loader tried their best on Saturday but got absolutely no change out of United’s back five.
Oli Norwood is a good player, one you can’t allow time on the ball - but that’s exactly what Reading did, and he ran the show. There was no intensity in the press, and once Sheffield United broke through the lines they looked dangerous in the final third.
A performance that really sums up our season - okay in the first half without really threatening, and then failing to adapt to a slight tactical change and collapsing in the second half.
The fans are getting more and more worried at these performances, understandably so. As the season goes on, and Reading keep putting in displays such as this, the fans have a right to fear relegation. Here’s what they said on Twitter after the game...
This has been a dreadful performance. No chemistry, like 11 strangers. Every pass has been a yard behind the man #readingfc— Will Satterthwaite (@willsatters) December 8, 2018
That felt very much like a relegation performance. Always felt the defeat was coming. I just think our players are not good enough. They try hard but the majority are not championship level anymore. #readingfc— Steven Kemp (@kempy26783) December 8, 2018
Disgusting performance yesterday, 0 shots on target at home is a disgrace, if the players can’t put in effort then why should we? Pathetic. #readingfc— George Blair (@GeorgeBlairr) December 9, 2018
Yesterday was one of the most disappointing performances I’ve seen from #readingfc . They had the chance to prove that sacking PC was the right decision. They only made it so much more obvious that they’re the issue, not the manager. Whoever comes in has a tough tough job— Cam Baker (@cambaker96) December 9, 2018
Are the players the real problem?
Even without a new manager installed yet, you would still hope there would be some reaction from the players on Saturday evening. However, it was the complete opposite from the boys in blue and white hoops as they put in possibly the worst performance of the season yet. And that had the fans rightly asking: have the players been the problem the whole time?
In brutal honesty, we looked like a League One team against Sheffield United - no fluidity, no creativity, no fight. United won every battle in every department, with the Royals failing to even get a shot on target in the 90 minutes.
January is going to be massive for whoever gets the job, mainly because there’s a large amount of deadwood that needs clearing out, and the fans know it. The realisation of the quality of the players, and the prospect of a relegation battle, loomed large on social media...
Those players let Scott Marshall down disgracefully tonight. #readingfc— David H (@DaveNorthStand) December 8, 2018
I don’t remember a time I’ve been this apathetic about our results. There’s not a single player I would care about leaving the club. That was casual, sloppy and embarrassing. Bring on wholesale changes in Jan. #readingfc— Thomas (@rfctom) December 8, 2018
I thought that since clement got the sack Thursday we would see at the very least fight passion desire for the shirt and to impress whoever the new gaffer is to be ... the players looked lethargic and uninterested... none of them care whatsoever #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) December 8, 2018
We are changing a lot of things but as a team can we move on so many players the usual suspects that have been here to long #readingfc— Johnny Hunt (@Huntyroyal) December 8, 2018
The new manager
Although there was a football match happening on Saturday evening, the new managerial appointment was still the big talking point on everyone’s lips, emphasised by the awful performance.
Strong rumours recently have linked Vitoria de Guimaraes manager Luis Castro with a lucrative contract at Reading. That’s certainly one from out of the blue. Maybe a complete change in direction for the club is needed? But Nigel Howe will need to be 100% sure that direction is the right one, and nothing like the torturous Anton Zingarevich days.
The fans were still speculating on Twitter after the game about who the next man may be - Castro? Bruce? Parkinson? The fans may not agree on who it should be, but it’s widely agreed that whoever it is, they will have a huge task on their hands...
When the new manager comes in. If he keeps is up I will hold them in very high regard. Its going to be such a difficult job. #readingfc— Steven Kemp (@kempy26783) December 9, 2018
Well this new manager will have a job on his hands. We look ok in parts but are constantly the masters of our own downfall. Too many individual errors, a lack of sharpness and poor decision-making. #readingfc— Matt Williams (@mattwilliams100) December 8, 2018
So toothless up top without Meite it’s a joke! I hope the new manager has some attacking players up his sleeve #Readingfc— Scott Graham (@ScottGraham_10) December 8, 2018
The more time that’s passed since Clement’s sacking the more I’m starting to wonder if it was a good idea. Not saying he should’ve kept his job, but the timing of it and the fact that we may not have a new manager settled in for the Rotherham game makes me very anxious #readingfc— Fin (@FinSouthKlein) December 9, 2018
Not good, not good at all. Rotherham away next weekend is an absolutely massive game, a must win. The rumours regarding Luis Castro are interesting, if not incredibly confusing. After saying in the statement that Howe is looking for someone to ‘fit the Reading mould’, the idea of going after a Portuguese boss, unproven in England and who can’t speak English, is a bit left-field.
Whoever the new gaffer is, let’s get behind them and hopefully they may be able to get us out of this mess. URZ!