Well, that was a bit deflating - wasn’t it? On Tuesday night, it was up there with the worst the team have performed since Bowen took over, after the reverse fixture back in November.
Our two key players in Swift and Ejaria had poor games. No matter who Bowen put up top, no-one seemed to be able to hold the ball up. And finally, we just didn’t really look like ever scoring apart from in the last five minutes when we were chasing the game.
Straight after the game (and even now it’s had time to sink in a bit), it feels like a huge missed opportunity. Bristol City are a solid Championship side, but if we’d managed to grab three points, it would’ve done a lot to our chances of sneaking into the top 6. However, with the way we performed, that was never going to happen.
Here’s a summary of how the disgruntled and frustrated fans reacted to some of the big talking points of the game...
Swift’s Off Day
He has been one of the top performers, not just in this team, but in the entire league this campaign. Despite this, Swift had a poor evening on Tuesday night. It was probably his worst of the season so far.
Generally, when Swift plays well, we play well. But, when Swift doesn’t play well, we don’t play well - and that was the case against the Robins.
There were a lot of poor individual displays (probably everyone but Pele and Morrison), but it was Swift’s showing that the fans pointed out the most after the game...
Not good enough tonight. We woke up last 15 mins, but by then it was too late. Swift was particularly poor and Puski wasn’t challenging for the ball at all. Pele was our best player and Meite looked very lively when he came on. Play-offs looking less and less likely #readingfc— Oli Bryant (@OliB_RFC) January 28, 2020
Pele seemed the only one that was up for the scrap, maybe include Morro in that as well. Our two key assets in Swift and Ejaria were both extremely poor, swift inparticular. Lack of player to hold the ball up cost us massively #readingfc— Rob Nutley (@Rnutley) January 28, 2020
It's all the fan favourites who've been awful tonight.— Greg Double (@Dubstep1988) January 28, 2020
Swift especially so, but Moore, Obita and (football gods forgive me) Ejaria have all been so poor.
John Swift had to come off just to stop showing himself up. #readingfc
IMO Swift, Ejaria & Olise are too similar in style and we’re getting in each other’s way at times tonight. #readingfc— Andy C #FBPE (@AndyRFCCharman) January 28, 2020
Yet again on Tuesday night, we were simply nowhere near good enough going forward. It’s clear that we are in desperate need of a striker. Let’s just hope that we manage to add some attacking firepower in the next couple of days.
Bowen tried Puscas, Baldock and Meite up front at different stages of the game. It was only in the last ten minutes, when we had to start pumping balls forward, that we looked like causing the Bristol defence any problems.
Is the problem personnel? Is it Bowen’s tactics? How do we change our fortunes? The fans were quick to offer their thoughts in answering all of those questions after the game...
We have learnt 1 up top doesn't work , we need 2 up there and pick the same guys give them a chance to forge a partnership an see what happens ! playing Puscas as a lone striker helps no one #readingfc— Darwinswift (@Darwinswift) January 29, 2020
I don't know why we are targeting a CDM. Bowen said 2 signings so hopefully the second one is a striker. #readingfc— Joe Luckett (@Josephluckett6) January 29, 2020
People saying Puscas doesn’t get service, go watch that Obita cross at the start of the second half and tell me a proper striker doesn’t throw themself at it. Heart of a pea #readingfc— Lee Wyeth (@leewyeth) January 28, 2020
Meite is our best striker and no one can tell me otherwise #readingfc— George (@_GeorgeRFC) January 28, 2020
The team desperately lacks width going forward. Need out and out wingers. Also, with no Joao at the moment, to play this system we need a striker that can play up top on his own. #ReadingFC— Jonnie Harris (@jonnieharris99) January 28, 2020
One solution is to sign a new striker, but that’s unlikely. So surely time to change the tactics? Bristol looked mega with two upfront. #readingfc— Laurence Wright (@WrightLaurence) January 28, 2020
Lack of effort and urgency for 85 minutes of that. Poor. Sign a striker. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) January 28, 2020
Need for New Faces
As if we needed any, the loss to Bristol City was clarification that this transfer window has been far too quiet in terms of signing players. The supporters are unanimous in believing that this needs to change before the deadline on Friday.
A few faces have been linked in recent times including Glenn Murray, Josh Laurent and Pedro Mendes. Bowen did admit after the game that he was hoping to confirm “one or two” new players imminently in his post match media duties.
Like I said, the fans are definitely after new signings. You can certainly tell from the following tweets...
Laurent and Murray and I'm in dreamland— Luke Rogers (@TheSaiint) January 28, 2020
Hopefully.. got to be a target man up front— Paul Hawkins (@Abbykins2010) January 28, 2020
Laurent and a striker I’m hoping— vitooo (@v1to__) January 28, 2020
Any ideas about the play-offs have always been ludicrous. This team is way too inconsistent, and needs a lot of investment and clever signings to get close to being a top six side. @willow1871 #ReadingFC— Jamie Gorman (@OfficialJGorman) January 28, 2020
1 or 2 signings before fridays deadline . Hopefully a striker and Laurent from Shrewsbury. Much needed after the last few weeks . We’ve looked dreadful attacking wise . No bite about us at all #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) January 29, 2020
#readingfc the next three days are going to frantic for RFC in the transfer market.— Michael Hunter (@Michael_BHunter) January 28, 2020
A poor, poor outing from near enough every man in Blue and White Hoops on Tuesday night. However, with the right investment before deadline day and a few results going our way, there is no reason why we can’t continue to keep aiming for the top half of the table. This is the Championship after all.
Here’s to a productive Deadline Day, fingers crossed!