Football was finally back on Saturday afternoon after the first never-ending international break of the season - but it wasn’t a happy return for Reading as they travelled up to Middlesbrough in high spirits but travelled back empty handed.
Gomes switched things up as George Puscas and Lucas Joao - who were both nowhere near their best against Charlton Athletic - were replaced by Lucas Boye and Yakou Meite, while Andy Rinomhota got his first league start since the second game of the season.
As we have become used to, the back line defended solidly to ensure we went into half time at 0-0, but they fell asleep midway through the second 45 as a needless free kick to giveaway found its way through everybody in the box and ended up beyond Rafael in the net.
And as we tried to find a way back into the game, Darren Randolph was there to pull off save after save after save - none better than the one to prevent a Joao header from nestling in the top corner.
Another frustrating results, but definitely some positive signs for the future. Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points...
The starting lineup
Gomes raised a few eyebrows with his team selection, bringing in Boye and Meite for Lucas and record-signing Puscas. It was a big call from Gomes, and one that split the opinion of the loyal Royals.
Joao and Puscas were both guilty of having bad days at the office last time out against Charlton - especially the Romanian who missed two big opportunities to give us the lead against the Addicks. That being said, they have shown glimpses of what they can offer as a partnership in recent times and to drop your two big money signings is always going to be a tough decision to make, but Gomes made it.
It was a decision that got the fans talking, some were in favour, some certainly weren’t...
We gonna ignore how class puscas has been in his international games ♂️. Up the ding ⚪️— James (@James_Cooper03) September 14, 2019
Can only assume puscas tired. Played slot recently. Think boye will be good. Time will tell. I have faith in the lads and gomes.— steve richardson (@Rich1Steve) September 14, 2019
Meltdown by the teenage idiots again I see, Puscas was on international duty, good call to rest him. Impact sub. Joao did sod all last week to warrent inclusion— WindermereDave (@RDave51) September 14, 2019
Puscas good enough at international level v Spain but dropped by Reading!!!!! Played Monday so tiredness not an issue. Bizarre decision.— Pringo (@pringo69) September 14, 2019
Ok I accept rino coming in. But why is joao and puscas both on the bench #readingfc— cameron macken (@ronniemac93) September 14, 2019
No end product
For the second game running, everything up until the final shot was pretty good from Reading. We had more shots on goal than any other team in the Championship this weekend, so creating issues isn’t a problem - but finishing them certainly is at the moment.
When you spend the money that we have on strikers then chances like the ones Puscas had in the second half from Omar Richards’ pull back need to be put away. That being said, we also came up against a goalkeeper in stellar form.
Randolph pulled off some fantastic saves, most notably from skipper Liam Moore and Lucas Joao’s glancing header. The last 10 minutes or so was pretty much attack vs defence but Reading just couldn’t find a way through.
The fans were certainly left frustrated by the lack of finishing on show from the Royals...
Puscas just missed another sitter, I prefer not to speak ♂️ #READINGFC— ️en (@BenHolder18) September 14, 2019
Puscas missed a sitter again? that’s 8 million well spent.#readingfc— Ian Kirkpatrick (@Mrkirkpatrick66) September 14, 2019
Why do we have to dominate every game, miss a bunch of chances then inevitably lose 1 or 2-0. #readingfc— Alex Stone (@_alexgstone) September 14, 2019
Massive massive overreaction today imo. Boro was always gonna be a tough game especially after the break. Dosent sound like we played too badly just missed a load of chances. However I am confused by some of Gomes substitutions. Must win on Saturday though. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) September 14, 2019
#ReadingFC Typical losing to a bad Boro side. We have had all the chances, they score the goal.— Chris Hartley (@Chartley1983) September 14, 2019
Sounds like one of those performances where the ball didn't end up in the back of the net.— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) September 14, 2019
Must work on finishing and composure if we are to finish in the top 10.
Only mid September so still time but frustrating we can't take the chances that come about #readingfc
Criticism for Gomes?
All in all, I don’t think anyone can doubt that Gomes has reinvigorated our club and done so much for us as a fanbase - but a couple of decisions in the last few games have seen a bit of a rise in criticism for the former Rio Ave manager.
The controversial substitutes he made against Charlton, bringing on Boye and Meite as wing backs, were almost repeated against Middlesbrough as we ended the game with all four of our main strikers on the pitch again.
Some may say those kinds of subs have been unnecessary, some may say they are brave and attacking minded. Some fans have been very critical on social media of Gomes, whereas some have remained a bit calmer.
Take a look at what they had to say after the game on Saturday...
4 losses from 7, Gomes will be on thin ice if he doesn't get a result next fixture. The owners have invested to go up not fight relegation again. Huge pressure on Gomes and its showing by his substitutes and tactics. #ReadingFC— Stuart (@fents17) September 14, 2019
It’s very early days and I would not for one minute be suggesting to get rid of Jose Gomes as this stage, however Chris hughton being on the market I wouldn’t say no . #readingfc— cameron macken (@ronniemac93) September 14, 2019
Not impressed with Gomes one little bit!!!! Don’t know why fans like him!! His record so far at #readingfc is piss poor.— Ian Kirkpatrick (@Mrkirkpatrick66) September 14, 2019
Anyone who wants Gomes out should have to write a written apology to him when we inevitably win the league #readingfc— Zac (@Williams5mith) September 15, 2019
It takes time as well as money, but my mind is set on Gomes! He’s the man for the job. @TheTilehurstEnd interview with him was brilliant - essential listening folks! ⚽️ #KeepUsUpGomes#TakeUsUpGomes#ReadingFC— Loyal Royal (@RoyalstilIdie) September 15, 2019
A frustrating result of course, but we are creating chances - more than most of the teams in the league - and once they start being converted, they won’t stop. Please, let’s give this team some time. Because they deserve it.
Let’s all get down to the Mad Stad next Saturday for yet another tough game.