It certainly is a rough ride being a Reading fan most of the time. After the understandable optimism and excitement that was built up during the transfer window, Jose Gomes and his players were handed a crushing blow to their already low confidence on Tuesday night.
The change in mood around the club in the last month has been seriously damaging, and as much as Gomes will take most of the blame for that - at the end of the day he is the manager - the players also need to take a bit of responsibility for what’s happened.
Did they get too complacent after a good run of results in August? Is there still a mentality problem at the club? It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what’s gone wrong over the last few games, but something definitely has done - and the players need to take a look in the mirror and show a response.
I have been a big advocate for giving this team and manager time to get into their stride, and I still am. But, if we don’t see a reaction to Tuesday night on Saturday against Bristol City then that isn’t a great sign at all.
Club captain Liam Moore consistently said during his post-match media duties that the only way to get results is to play as a team rather than a group of individuals and that every player needs to have a long hard look at themselves. Whether you take that as empty words or not, it’s something that needs to happen within the squad of players.
We need a response on Saturday. We deserve a response on Saturday. Whether we’ll get it or not is a completely different story. However, although the quality hasn’t been shown consistently throughout Gomes’ era, it’s hard to doubt the fight and passion the team have shown since the Portuguese manager came in.
Numerous late goals last season, including two in the last five minutes to beat Wigan Athletic and a last-gasp winner against Ipswich Town, were key to us staying in the Championship. We have also witnessed more late goals this season too, with Lucas Boye heading home in the 99th minute against Wolves before Andy Yiadom smashed home an equaliser away at Swansea City on Saturday.
I truly, truly believe that Gomes is still the right man for the job and will get us out of this rut sooner rather than later. And I do also believe that these players are good enough to do that as well. But, like Moore said, they won’t do that if they keep playing as individuals.
We’ve seen what it could be like if it clicks. We saw against Cardiff City, West Bromwich Albion and Huddersfield Town. We can easily see performances like that again, but whether we do or not is down to the 11 players that step out onto the pitch every week.
For a few years now, we as Reading fans have seen players and squads shy away from tough times and make excuses for poor performances. We cannot see that again, and I don’t think the senior players at the club - like the captain - will let that happen again.
As much as the results in recent times may make you want to stay at home, the players and manager need us as well. Being a fan means getting behind the team when they win, and getting behind them just as much when we lose. For too long the distance between the players and the fans has been far too big. Let’s stay right behind this group of players.
I’m still confident it will turn around, but it’s time for the players to show us what they’re made of - it’s the least we deserve.