After the promising performances against Derby County and Nottingham Forest, and our first win since April coming in midweek against Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup, you would’ve thought Reading would get their first league win at home to Bolton on Saturday. Wrong.
It was an abysmal display from the Royals, toothless in attack and fragile in defence, which deservedly ended in a 1-0 loss for the Royals, the first time that they have lost their opening three fixtures of a league campaign since 1959. Here’s how the Reading faithful reacted to some of the key moments from Saturday’s game.
In the previous three games this season, and for the majority of pre-season, Clement has employed a 4-4-2. As Barrow and Aluko were both unavailable through injury, it may have made sense to adopt a different formation, but the 4-4-2 was persisted with as John Swift was moved out to the left.
But, probably even more surprisingly, star performer Tiago Ilori was dropped to the bench as Liam Moore and Paul McShane paired up together in central defence, which certainly didn’t go down well with the fans...
As much as I love Paul McShane.... he simply doesn’t have the pace of Tiago Ilori which in this league you so need. Bad choice from Clement today personally dropping him. #readingfc— Nigel Charles Vass (@Nigee87) August 18, 2018
How has Ilori been dropped? What message does that send? #ReadingFC— Nath St Paul (@NathStPaul) August 18, 2018
The poor, poor performance
I’ve used the performance as a talking point previously, for all the good reasons, but this time it is the polar opposite. From the get-go Reading looked half-hearted; there was little attacking intent apart from a Baldock shot and a Swift free-kick that Alnwick dealt with relatively easily.
A lacklustre performance was duly met with a very lacklustre result and Reading need to up their game seriously or it could be a long season. It doesn’t get any easier either with two tough away games coming up next against Blackburn and Aston Villa. Here’s the Reading fans’ damning assessment from Saturday...
We couldn't brake Bolton down. We were too slow. We were too weak in midfield. Today's performance reminded me of the Stam days. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) August 18, 2018
When arriving at the Mad Stad, I was appalled by the lack of attendance. But when you put in performances like that, how can you blame people not going? Last season all over again. #readingfc— Toby Ryan (@toby_ryan) August 18, 2018
Don’t know what was worse that performance or a performance under Jaap Stam #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) August 18, 2018
Gutless performance @willow1871 Where’s the leader in the middle who grabs the game by the nuts? We offered nothing down the right, little down the left. 3 league losses in a row is worrying, esp with the two away games coming up! Clement under pressure early doors. #ReadingFC— Jamie Gorman (@OfficialJGorman) August 18, 2018
Paul Clement’s post-match interview and his future
It was expected that Clement would not be happy when fulfilling his media duties post-match, but the anger, honesty and passion he showed was something I haven’t seen from a Reading manager in a long time. Heavy criticism of not only his players, but himself and a staggering moment when he claimed even he would’ve booed the team too if he was sat in the stands.
I personally feel that calls for Clement to go are far too premature, but if performances and results like against Bolton continue, he will certainly be a man under pressure. And the Reading fans took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the manager...
Paul Clement deserves at least ‘til Xmas jheez, lost as to how anyone would want him out rn. Players are the ones that must step up. #ReadingFC— George (@AndyYiadom) August 18, 2018
We might not have won in 3 league games but I cannot say anything bad about Paul Clement at least the bloke actually cares and it hurts for him when we lose #Readingfc— Scott Graham (@ScottGraham_10) August 18, 2018
Really hope I’m proved wrong but Clement seems like more of an assistant coach as opposed to a long term manager, was great that he steered us just clear of relegation last year, but don’t think he’d be great in the long term for us, hopefully I’m wrong #readingfc— Adam Jones (@ajonesrfc) August 18, 2018
Can't believe I'm already seeing 'fans' wanting Clement out. We've only had three games of season, where we were the better team in two of them. We have finally started playing some decent football. Give him time. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) August 19, 2018
I have been quick to praise and defend the team after the first two losses as the performances were good, but on Saturday we thoroughly deserved what we got. I believe in Clement and his ideas of how he wants the team to play football, and his post-match interview certainly gave me belief that he does care for this club and it was 10x more passion and honesty that we ever saw from Stam.
The players need to up their game, and hopefully with one or maybe two loan signings coming in, we will see an upturn in results. URZ!