Following on from defeats to Brentford and Leeds United, Reading travelled to Wigan, who have been struggling most of the season. Given the team line up and missing the two most influential players in midfield, the mood around the 500 or so Reading FC fans who travelled wasn’t amazingly upbeat – although to be fair, the noise generated couldn’t be faltered. For 78 minutes this pretty much proved to be the case with Reading creating little and their play littered with mistakes and poor decisions.
The lack of a playmaker in Reading’s side did somewhat confuse some of the fans with Lucas Boye sat on the bench and, unlike the game against Brentford when the subs made little difference, the introduction of Joao, Boye and Adam proved to be catalyst for an mind-blowing five-minute spell when Reading and Puscas in particular threw off a lethargic display and exploded to score three goals.
The Wigan fans understandably were flabbergasted at the turnaround, many blaming the manager and in particular the unfortunate Naismith who seemed to be at fault for all the goals.
Why thank you
There’s only one Puscas
The Reading forward scored more goals in 5 minutes than our strikers all season, haha, gotta laugh or you will cry #wafc— Vincent (@Juddu_) November 30, 2019
Not really a tackle!
When your own fans sing "you're getting sacked in the morning" to the manager maybe it's time to take note. #wafc— Martin W (@dmartw) November 30, 2019
It is a bit bad
No matter what you think of cook or whatever if you boo naismith when he comes on and when he touches the ball your an absolute disgrace and not a proper fan of this club. #wafc— Daniel Bayliss (@Danny_Bayliss) November 30, 2019
Brings back memories
Dire football, awful team selections, bizarre tactics and horrendous substitutes. Time's up. #wafc— Matthew Taylor (@mjtaylor123) November 30, 2019
Compared to some we have had
Ref was looking for stuff against us all game too! And the hand ball decision proves it! Absolute disgrace, worse ref I’ve seen in a while and that’s saying something! #wafc— Mark Aspey (@maspey18) November 30, 2019
Knew there was a reason
Fair play to Naismith he was the creative spark reading was missing #wafc— Dave Hassall (@dhassallwafc) November 30, 2019
I know the feeling
Not like me at all but I’m confident of a big win today 3-0 #wafc— Adam Melling (@AdamMello89) November 30, 2019
As you can expect there wasn’t a huge amount from the nationals around a bottom-of-the-league clash, but what there was makes fairly interesting reading. Starting with Four Four Two, they reckon that it was a harsh penalty and open with Mark Bowen stating that before the goals he was planning his interview about how we got beat by Wigan!
He goes on to say that he was disappointed with the first-half showing, but also what Puscas can do if he gets decent service. There is an argument that it shows what he can do with confidence rather than a vast amount of decent balls he has had over the last few games.
The Guardian have a round-up of the EFL action and we get a paragraph, mainly around the timings of the goals and that Wigan looked in control until Puscas’ five-minute show.
The quick report after the game has Wigan Today calling the penalty controversial and praising Garath McCleary for good work for the third goal. Their five things column also makes interesting reading, with comments about it being the worst penalty decision in years, and also they haven’t spent the money we have spent on Puscas ever - but then go onto to say that they had £10m in two players sat on the bench. Ok then.
Interesting that we got a mention in the Evening Standard. They make Puscas the understandable hero of the piece, calling his second a stunner.
Closer to home and the Reading Chronicle’s player ratings are quite interesting. You would have thought on a 3-1 win that the most players would get a mark off 5 – however that just shows how poor the first 78 minutes were.
Finally the BBC have their normal non-committal report saying that Wigan looked the most likely to score before that Puscas moment. They also have a interviews with the managers, which aren’t anything that hasn’t already been said. Over at Sky Sports, they have a similar report, but also go on to say that Reading actually looked more likely to score, they also have their video of the game which this week is a paltry 1 minute 41 for four goals!
December is always a tricky month and one that can make or break many a team’s season. Looking at the starting line up on Saturday and there was a number of questions that jumped into my mind - I mean against one of the weakest defences in the league, we are playing seven defensive players? Why was Boye only on the bench when it was crying out for someone with a creative spark?
You have to be in games to win them, and Puscas has come in for a lot of stick recently, some deserved and some not. What we have to remember is that yes he has a high price tag, but also he doesn’t have a huge amount of first-team games for a player rated at £8m. What we have seen is glimpses of his potential and, with the run of games against opposition that’s beatable, hopefully he can hit some form and get some goals.
The absence of Ejaria and Swift left huge holes in the creativity of this team, and it’s worrying that Bowen didn’t turn to the youth and give one of the academy a start. This is the sort of game that giving someone like Michael Olise game time might have been a good option.
On to Birmingham on Saturday and again this is a winnable game - stringing a few results together will get some confidence in the team and re-establish fortress Madejski.