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Fans Verdict: Frustrating Opening Day Defeat

Finally, proper football was back at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon as Sheffield Wednesday were the first visitors of the season. However, it was a limp start for the hosts, as the need for new signings showed once again. 

Going off the back of the last two seasons, optimism in the fanbase was surprisingly high going into Saturday’s opener against Sheffield Wednesday. Coming from a successful pre-season, with the chance to see some new signings going up against a team with no manager, what could go wrong?

Then Reading reminded everyone what it’s actually like to support Reading; any kind of optimism can, and most likely will be, wiped away within the space of 90 minutes. It was a very slow start to the new campaign from the hosts; no movement off the ball coupled with no real creativity is never a good recipe. Even when Kieran Westwood was given his marching orders with 10 minutes to go, Reading never really looked like grabbing another goal.

It was almost like a throwback to the pre-Gomes era, and I’m sure Jose would’ve noticed that. The simple fact of the matter is: no matter how exciting the younger players are, the starting eleven against Wednesday isn’t as good as the first-choice starting eleven at the end of last season – and that needs changing before 5pm on Thursday.

There were as ever some key talking points from Saturday’s game that the fans were quick to jump on after the game...

More defensive frailties

One thing you can say about the second half of last season is that we looked huge amounts better defensively – and with the Miazga and Moore partnership reunited once again for this season, you would’ve expected that to stay the same.

However, it was the opposite as the Royals back four looked shaky all game. The ever-reliable Moore wasn’t up to his usual standards and Yiadom looked in danger every time Harris had the ball at his feet on Wednesday’s left flank.

It was summed up for Wednesday’s last two goals, as Hutchinson was given the freedom of Berkshire to head home from a corner. Then, as Reading chased an equaliser, the defence just went missing as Lucas Joao was allowed to turn and squeeze it into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. These errors need to be cut out sharpish, and Gomes will know that.

The referee

It shouldn’t be used as an excuse - Jose Gomes admitted that himself in his post-match media duties - but when a referee puts in a performance like that, it’s never beneficial.

First of all, how he’s managed to miss Tom Lees’ save on the line with his hand from Andy Yiadom is baffling. If the referee gets that right, it’s a penalty, red card and a completely different game. Later, Matt Miazga was used as a climbing frame by Steven Fletcher from a free kick!

This isn’t just a one-game thing - on the whole the EFL seriously needs to look at the standard of the refereeing in their leagues as it just isn’t good enough. Like I said though, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse as the Royals just weren’t up to scratch.

The fans were certainly annoyed and frustrated at the referee’s performance, and it was a hard task finding enough family-friendly tweets...

The need for new signings

If it wasn’t obvious before, it is now. We need at least two new players to come in and add to the quality of this team. There were two huge Nelson Oliveira and Lewis Baker sized holes in our team against Wednesday and they need to be addressed before the deadline on Thursday.

The likes of Josh Barrett, Michael Olise and Danny Loader are all fantastic prospects but need to be given a chance to get used to first-team football. We’ve made some astute signings already, but at least two more are a requirement - a striker and a defensive midfielder.

Lucas Boye looks like an exciting signing as he brings an element of the unknown with him, and obviously we know what Miazga will bring to the team – so there have been some good signings already made. But the fans certainly agree that more recruitment is definitely needed...

Conclusion

A poor performance on the whole, but no need to overreact in my opinion. That’s game one of 46, and with some new faces coming in and Gomes at the helm, I’m sure (I hope) that we will be okay.

A bad day at the ofifce, but the atmosphere around the ground was fantastic all afternoon and there is still a lot of cause to be optimistic about the future - as long as some new signings come trough the door in the next few days.