After a fantastic result on Wednesday night - which moved Reading out of the bottom three for the first time since Boxing Day - the Royals put in arguably their second worst performance under Gomes, after the Swansea City horror show. Sheffield United are a top, top team who look destined for at least the play-offs, but we didn’t really do ourselves any favours going 2-0 down after 15 minutes.
A defence which has been so much better under Gomes looked back to its fragile worst as United continued to pile the pressure on us. These aren’t the games which will keep us up or take us down, but a 4-0 loss at this stage of the season really doesn’t help, and without Iorfa’s vital last-minute goal against Rotherham, we’d be back in the bottom three now.
Here is how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points from Saturday’s defeat...
As I’ve previously said, the defence has been so much stronger since Gomes came in. The signings of Emiliano Martinez and Matt Miazga could prove to be masterstrokes by the Portuguese manager, but the whole back five had a day to forget on Saturday.
When Gomes’ style of play is played right, it looks beautiful. However, if it isn’t done right, you are left in a dangerous situation as proven on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully it’s just a blip in what has been an incline in defensive performances, but it can’t continue in this kind of relegation battle.
The fans were understandably disappointed and worried about the defensive frailties, and do not want to see it continuing...
I do not believe what I have just witnessed. From the first second we didn’t seem up for it. To concede 28 seconds In is quite frankly embarrassing, very disappointing after such a good win on Wednesday #ReadingFc— Micah (@ME14Ding) February 16, 2019
With how well Sheffield Utd have been playing this season it was always going to be difficult. But we've genuinely been TERRIBLE first half. Non-existent midfield and defence. Let's hope it's just a blip rather than a permanent step backwards #readingfc— Becki White (@MissBeckaEllen) February 16, 2019
Omar Richards also having an awful game, Liam Moore playing CB and LB at the minute #readingfc— Brad (@BradSRay) February 16, 2019
No midfield bite
Boy are we missing Andy Rinomhota. With no ball winner in midfield, we looked very open and weak, and when you’re up against players like Oli Norwood and John Fleck, you are going to get punished.
We desperately need Rinomhota back in the team, and the decision to let Bacuna go always puzzled me, but looks even worse now. Baker, Kelly, Ejaria and Swift are all very similar players, none of them really prioritise their defensive duties, and that really showed as Sheffield United carved through them at will.
The fans are certainly desperate to get Rinomhota back in the team, especially with the biggest game of the season coming up next Saturday...
This shows how much we really are missing, most obviously, Rinomhota, Ezatolahi and actually I think Bacuna. Our middle without any of those is unbelievably soft, pretty decent with the ball but without it we're about as good as a chocolate teapot #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) February 16, 2019
Quite simply, Andy Rinomhota could prove to be the difference between us staying up and going down - it’s remarkable how shockingly lightweight our midfield looks without him #readingfc— Marcus Oades (@MarcusOades95) February 16, 2019
Clear that we massively need Rinomhota back, midfield is a recipe for disaster at the moment with who is available, so unbalanced. Worth noting that even if Ezatolahi was fit, we’d have to leave another loan player out the match day squad to accommodate. 5 loan max. #ReadingFC— Alex Sheppard (@Alex_Shep_Urzz) February 17, 2019
The Rotherham game
This is the one. This is the biggest game of the season by a long, long way. We are now level on points with Rotherham, only above them on goal difference, so a win next Saturday would be absolutely huge.
However, equally, a loss would be hugely damaging. It’s the first of three absolutely massive games, and these are the ones that will go a long way to deciding which league we will playing in next season.
Hopefully the mood in the camp is still positive, and the big defeat on Saturday hasn’t knocked us back too much because we’ll need to put in our best performance of the season to get the result we need. The nerves are already starting to set in amongst the Reading faithful ahead of the next three games, and you can’t really blame them...
A bit concerned about the Rotherham game. They seem to have a relativley good spell. And us, a bit like rolling the dice and see what comes out. A defeat would really hurt us. #readingfc— ͠Ɗ͠α͠η͠ι͠є͠Ɩ͠ (@DanBratt99) February 16, 2019
Saturday’s game against Rotherham whether we like it or not is one of the biggest in the clubs history. If you have the chance, please get to the MS, how nice it would be to see the place rocking, it’s so important now. #readingfc— Rob Nutley (@Rnutley) February 17, 2019
Next three games.— Malta Royals Trust (@MaltaRoyalsTrus) February 16, 2019
- Rotherham (Home)
- Ipswich (Away)
- Wigan (Home)
Ladies and Gentlemen .. that there is a relegation scrap.
Whatever happens after those three games and we will know if we're staying up or going down.#Wearestayingup or #League1herewecome#readingfc
All in all, a pretty dire afternoon in Sheffield. But all eyes must be on next Saturday now, it’s probably our biggest match since the play-off final, but obviously for a very different reason.
One thing that did get to me was that last Wednesday saw our lowest crowd of the season, in what was a must-win game.
The players need us next Saturday, so get down to the Mad Stad and let’s do our bit to get a massive three points.