Coming off the back of four very good results, including three brilliant home wins, the Royals would’ve been full of confidence going into their final ever game at Griffin Park - well, they should’ve been anyway.
It was by far and away the worst performance and result of Bowen’s time in charge so far. Everything between our goal and the final third was done pretty well for the most part - apart from the Brentford goal obviously - but Reading were nowhere near their best in the final third.
It was a weird game in that I can only recall us creating one guilt edged chance - which Puscas will know he should’ve buried - but they players and Bowen will feel we still should’ve and could’ve walked away from Brentford with all three points. The players just seemed scared to pull the trigger at times.
Hopefully this result is just a blip and hasn’t stalled the progression we have been making since Bowen took charge - but only time will tell that. Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the big talking points...
The whole team has been guilty of lacking killer edge and missing some big chances this season, but arguably none more so than Romanian international George Puscas.
The lad is clearly a top centre forward, otherwise he wouldn’t be his national team’s number 9 at the age of 23 and be costing us a reported £8 million - but some for some reason it just isn’t quite going for Puscas at the minute.
He missed another big chance in the first half on Saturday which you would really expect him to score and was an epitome of a striker severely lacking in confidence. It’s a hard problem to deal with and Bowen will have difficult decisions facing him regarding this.
The fans were certainly left frustrated and upset by the Romanian’s performance, and not for the first time this campaign...
Have to laugh at the fans having a go at Puscas, he will come good just need to be patient. #readingfc— Stuart (@fents17) November 23, 2019
I mean Puscas needs to start firing soon. Simply has to score that chance in the first half. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) November 23, 2019
I didn’t watch the game today nor did I listen to @BBCBerkshire but have seen loads of tweets. Puscas has undoubtedly cost us points by missing a number of 1v1 chances. Imagine if he was a goalkeeper, you’d 100% want him dropped #readingfc— Jordan Norris (@Jordo1871) November 23, 2019
Poor decision yesterday from Puscas to try and take it round the keeper, a confident strikers lobs the bouncing ball over the keeper #readingfc— Mark (@JonesyRFC91) November 24, 2019
If you told me two months ago that Baldock going off injured would be a serious catalyst to why we lost a game of football, I’d have told you you were crazy - but on Saturday, I seriously believe that happened.
The performance of all three subs when they came on was pretty poor - certainly Garath McCleary and Yakou Meite. When you are chasing a game in that manner, you need your subs to come on and offer something different and add a spark to the game, but that failed to happen on Saturday.
The fans were left angered by their performances after the game on Saturday - as was Bowen in his post match media duties. But here’s what the fans had to say on Twitter...
Bowen bloody #clueless with subs. Potentially cost #readingfc the game. Poor match but Brentford superior side winning 1-0. Slide could on again if the Royals bubble has burst. Leeds is a must win game on Tuesday. Facttttttt @willow1871 https://t.co/MHMBV1UuOd— Sir Dodger Royal (@SirDodgerRoyal) November 23, 2019
in hindsight the Baldock sub killed that game for us. Meite offered startlingly little, McCleary a fraction more. Boye is a good player waiting to come good. We may have been better suited taking off a CB and going 4-3-3 #readingfc— P_GMedia (@P_GMedia) November 23, 2019
Never want to see meite play again. Awful, awful footballer. #readingfc— ©️❗ (@CasperClark16) November 23, 2019
Bad result and terrible second half, really not sure what Meite offers us at the moment #ReadingFC— Stuart (@fents17) November 23, 2019
For once, could Meite try fighting for a ball, rather than go over looking for a nonexistent foul...? #readingfc— Gordon Hawkes (@GordonDJHawkes) November 23, 2019
First loss under Bowen
You could say that the honeymoon is now over. Bowen’s strong start to life as manager of Reading came to an end in a pretty toothless fashion, as previously mentioned.
Football is game of cliches, but it’s all about the reaction now on Tuesday night as good ol’ Leeds United roll into town. Hopefully, it’s just a blip and the players can turn it around midweek - they will still be confident and in a buoyant mood (I hope).
Bowen will know the hard work begins now (another cliche) and the players have shown in a small amount of time under him that they will fight until the very end and there seems to be a change in mentality since he came in - hopefully they prove that again on Tuesday.
However, Saturday’s loss certainly upset the fans and left them deflated - as you would expect after any defeat, but one that ruins a good run of form is even worse...
A disappointing result in the end of course. Played alright in the first half but Brentford were by far the better team in the second. It’s a shame we couldn’t get the equaliser but it’s not gonna happen when we don’t even shoot. Just not good enough up front rlly. #readingfc— Oli Bryant (@OliB_RFC) November 23, 2019
Disappointing result. All I can be sure of right now is that Baldock is critical to this team. As soon as he went off, the game changed against us #readingfc— Dave Stevens (@shakefon) November 23, 2019
Don't think I'll get over not being able to give Griffin Park a send off today, even with that result!#readingfc— Sam (@Greasley_Machin) November 23, 2019
Bowen ball is great with the fans until the results start going sour.. #readingfc— Trenchcoat (@Adamhumphries44) November 23, 2019
Disappointing today as I thought we did well till the goal and then fell to peaces but before the game a point would’ve been a great result so you can’t be too disappointed. 1 defeat in 5 for Bowen isn’t too bad at all. Onwards and upwards. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) November 23, 2019
Missed last two games as in Oz and come back to...defeat. Good first half, pressed and made chances but fluffed our lines. Think we overplayed too many times. Need to be a bit more incisive #readingfc— Tricks (@richiec87) November 23, 2019
A bitter pill to swallow, and a huge game on Tuesday night coming up now. Leeds are a top, top team so it’ll be a very difficult match - but a match we are more than capable of playing a big part in.
Get down to the Mad Stad, and get behind the lads!