Life, death, taxes and playing Man Utd in the FA Cup are things that will always happen to Reading fans. Now it might be anti-romantic but there is something about getting beat by Man Utd every couple of years in the cup which is, well, just getting boring.
Anyway, back to the game. After a 4-1 thrashing by Swansea on New Year’s Day (apologies for no AV, but the hangover just couldn’t take reviewing that game), Reading travelled back to the Theatre of Dreams, (well nightmares generally) with many fans expecting a cricket score. Indeed odds of 28/1 (#Gambleaware) didn’t really give Reading much hope.
However, to be honest it was probably one of our better performances this season, and indeed without the introduction of VAR for the first goal we could have come away with a commendable 1-0 defeat. It wasn’t to be and Reading can walk away from that game with some decent pride, but as always we need to carry that form into the league, as if we do we will be OK.
On the social side, the Man Utd fans are a strange breed - as hype goes for a manager and a debutant I have seen nothing like it. Ok so I know that Ole was a fans’ favourite but the level of “we’re gonna rule the world” is ridiculous.
You have to give the Man Utd board credit thought – they knew exactly when to sack Jose Mourinho. Call me a cynic but sacking a manager before a run of five games which should all be winnable is hardly a hard task. I mean Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Reading is hardly a run which should strike fear into a top four side. Even still, the level of hysteria is eye-opening.
The other shocking thing was the reaction to Chong getting a run. Did I miss something? Look I know he’s a kid, but honestly? On that performance would you play him in front of Rinomhota? No chance. Hype is good but he reminded me of the levels of hype around Loader, which so far hasn’t produced any goals.
No just no
Ole’s at the wheel— Goose (@theamazinggoose) January 5, 2019
Tell me how good does it feel
We’ve got Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Fred
Marcus Rashford’s a Manc born and bred
Du du du du du du du du du
Greatest of English football
We’ve won it all all#MUFC
Three goals in three games...
Lukaku first touch makes it look like every pass has been shot out of a cannon at him. He can’t control a throw in, a long or short pass. He doesn’t know which side to toll to to gain a yard. No room for him in this team.— MiKe (@durtee_harry) January 5, 2019
Rashford , Martial , Greenwood #mufc
Hang on, praise? I need to sit down for a minute
We need to calm down the criticism and give credit to @ReadingFC who played bloody well for long periods of the match. Add to that our team was a hotchpotch of not match fit or match sharp players and I think "Crap" is over the top. Lukakus goal was brilliant as was Romero #MUFC— Paul (@NagMoleMUFC) January 5, 2019
Ask Cardiff fans their thoughts eh...
OGS could be the next PEP or ZZ but the question ask can he handle a season of expectations bc at the moment he got this team having fun like a team that has nothing to play for but having fun playing ball #mufc— Demitrious Smith (@HumbanSon) January 5, 2019
If this is the case then Rinomhota is the next Zidane
Tahith Chong actually looks decent you know. Good technique. Similar traits to Sane #mufc— Danny (@ThatManDan007) January 5, 2019
You just gotta love Phil Jones
Ole up to today was playing nice flowing attacking football...why change it? Very poor performance today against a terrible @ReadingFC side who should be getting swept aside .@ChongMufc the only positive #mufc— DecReape (@decoreape7) January 5, 2019
There’s loads, literally loads. It’s almost too much to make any sense of so I will pick up a couple of bits. Firstly the Mirror gives the Man Utd players a rating, but don’t bother with Reading... BT Sport’s write-up calls it an unconvincing win and generally the only plaudits are for the Reading side.
The Express carry an interview with Phil Neville who said the only player he was impressed with in the Man Utd team was Romero in goal. The Last Word On Football call Reading “fearless” - I like that. They go on to say that the score line flattered Man Utd.
Football Ghana are quick to praise Yiadom, calling his performance sensational (I wouldn’t quite go that far). Staying in Africa, AllAfrica heaps praise on Andy Rinomhota, saying he stamped his authority on the game, taking the man of the match accolade in an outstanding performance.
As usual the BBC have a report saying that Man Utd dropped form and that if we had taken our chances we would have given Man Utd a harsher test. They also have 3.23 minutes of coverage of the game. There are though some excellent saves from both keepers!
Look, we didn’t expect anything and got a decent 2-0 defeat with no shame attached to it. But we also got agood performance, so I am chalking that up to be positive. What we have to take a massive positive about is the defensive performance. I mean, remember that we played 45 minutes with one centre back, a right back in central defence and the best midfielder we have at right back! Against a strike force that is worth in excess of £100m - why oh why can’t we do this in the league?
What was also encouraging was the performances of a couple of players; Kelly for example playing nearly to the levels we expect of him, Rinomhota (don’t get too used to him guys, that man is about how much we can sell him for) controlling the game and keeping some world class players in his pocket.
The biggest worry for me was our lack of confidence in the final third. Everything was good on Saturday, right until we had the chance of a shot - then it all just fizzled out. Reading are in desperate need, as we have been for the last few years, of a goalscorer who can not only finish but also create.
Considering the chances that we created on Saturday, a decent goalscorer could have made the world of difference and maybe we would have got a draw. Harriott and Loader both had glorious chances which they just didn’t take; both probably the best chances of the game.
So, what happens now? Recruitment is key, we need a centre-back, we certainly need a left fullback, and someone to put the ball in the damn net. Get them and maybe just maybe we will be OK.