There is a very small part of me that has missed driving 200 miles on a cold mid-week evening to watch Reading play appallingly. However, not enough for me to enjoy Wednesday night’s performance at all.
It was, for me, the worst performance so far under Pauno. The Blues pressed us very well and we just didn’t have the ability to play through it. We’ve seen it already so far with the games against Coventry City, Preston North End and Stoke City, when teams are disciplined and sit behind the ball - we find it really hard to combat that.
It’s something that Pauno will work on, and he’ll be grateful that John Swift is getting closer and closer to a return. As good as Josh Laurent and Andy Rinomhota are, neither really have the ability to break the lines with a penetrative pass into feet, which is exactly what we needed on Wednesday, and exactly what Swift can do.
Obviously, the big opportunity was Lucas Joao’s penalty - we score that and there is a big chance that we go on to win the game. But, ultimately, I don’t think we deserved to do that. Birmingham came to do a job, did it perfectly and deserved to take home all three points.
Here’s how the fans reacted to the key talking points...
I stated previously that I thought this was the worst performance of the Paunovic era so far, and judging by some of the tweets after the game, the fans agree with me on that one.
We were really slow in possession and when players like Michael Olise and Ovie Ejaria are off their game, usually our Plan B is to go long over the top to Yakou Meite and Joao, but neither of the two forwards got any chances out of the Blues’ back four for large proportions of the evening.
Nothing seemed to work, and it was just one of those evenings. The fans are hoping that we don’t see too many more of those kinds of showings...
poor performance last night slow sideways and backwards passing not many taking responsibility. closing down slow. So different to Saturday. We need to find a way to breakdown teams who defend behind the ball #readingfc— andrew (@staggy68) December 10, 2020
Awful performance tonight. No urgency whatsoever. We ain't getting playoffs if we play like that. Need a reaction Saturday #readingfc— AidenRFC (@AidenRFC_) December 9, 2020
If there ever was a ‘typical’ #readingfc performance, it was that.— Sam Hudspith (@samhudspith24) December 9, 2020
Absolutely lethargic performance. Nothing going forward. You would've thought that after the last three games we would actually have a creative spark going forward, but no. Options off the bench needed in January #readingfc— Lewis Radbourne (@lewisradbourne1) December 9, 2020
What a woeful performance all round the pitch, poor first half, joao not at the races today— Alan Swift (@alandswift) December 9, 2020
Worst performance of the season. No movement, no width, no intensity and Birmingham were first to every 50/50. Bad night at the office. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) December 9, 2020
Typical Reading performance against a beatable team at home. #readingfc— Tom (@TomMoore0506) December 9, 2020
Tonight’s #readingfc performance stank of a small squad who’ve played a lot of games in quick succession— Persandwichman (@persandwichman) December 9, 2020
Looked 2nd best to every ball, Birmingham looked a lot lot sharper and more than a few of our players looked like they had lead boots on
Must not lose Saturday
This could possibly be the worst thing to come from the Wednesday night’s game.
As Reading were chasing the game, Meite clattered into Blues ‘keeper Neil Etheridge when chasing a long through ball. The Ivorian came off worse and Pauno was concerned with the injury in his post-match media duties.
To add insult to injury, pardon the pun, Joao hobbled off the pitch after full time, clutching his hamstring. Joao has played a hell of a lot of football recently so fingers crossed it was just cramp, but the fans are certainly fearing the worse...
Losing Meite and potentially Joao.... this is bad #readingfc— Zac Colón (@ZacLONDON_31) December 9, 2020
If Joao & Meite aren’t fit we gotta bring in some academy boys and whack em up front. Can’t really get any worse than Aluko & Baldock ngl #ReadingFC— JL (@lockmann_jordan) December 10, 2020
If Joao and Meite are out for a while now we really are going to struggle big time . With Brentford and Norwich in the next 3 we just aren’t strong enough depth wise #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) December 9, 2020
Terrible performance, Meite injured and Joao hamstring at the end? #readingfc— Melvir (@Melvir88) December 9, 2020
Well that was interesting- Birmingham obviously came for the point and were gifted all three. Just knew it would happen on my first time back at the Mad Stad Hopefully Meite and Joao aren’t out for too long or it could be an interesting period #readingfc— James Earnshaw (@JamesEarnshaw10) December 9, 2020
Will be a huge blow if Meite and João are out, that will be by far the worst thing to come out of tonight if they are #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) December 9, 2020
Reaction on Saturday
Throughout the entire season, Pauno has been very good of dusting off results very quickly, whether that be a win, draw or loss. He’ll need to make sure that we don’t dwell on this performance for too long, and I have full confidence he’ll do just that.
One of the biggest changes in the team this season has been the mental aspect of the players. For far too long we’ve seen players get into slumps very easily, lose their confidence and end up on long losing streaks as a result. That just won’t happen under Pauno.
The fans certainly know how important it is to react on Saturday, as we travel to QPR...
I can deal with that as we were the downfall in this game like the last two games. The opposition packed up early and defended for a result. We weren’t clinical enough and paid the price. Onto Saturday away at QPR #readingfc— Jamie (@dingfcjamie) December 9, 2020
First half cost us tonight, my money would always be on Joao scoring that and at 2-2 there’s only one team winning that. Onto Saturday, good to be back at the mad stad! #readingfc— Elliott (@u_elliott_) December 9, 2020
Piss poor today but hopefully only a one off. Need to bounce back Saturday with Norwich and Brentford being the two after that. Meite and Joao both being out is huge if their injuries are serious. #readingfc— Royals 360 (@Royals_360) December 9, 2020
Championship football! We weren’t good enough tonight. Inconsistentancy showing. Is what it is, move on to Saturday and beyond. #readingfc— Alex Stone (@alexgstone) December 9, 2020
it’s going to be a topsy-turvy season. Move on. Rest up & go again Saturday #readingfc— P_GMedia (@P_GMedia) December 9, 2020
A tired, frustrating off night for us as a team no doubt, and João too with the pen miss and another good chance late on. The thing is now we've shown we're capable of getting back on the horse and going again, and that's exactly what we need to do Saturday #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) December 9, 2020
Sometimes in football it just doesn't go your way. Really no need to over think it. Poor first half but an improved second half. Dust ourselves off and go again on Saturday. #readingfc— Steven Kemp (@kempy26783) December 9, 2020
It was a poor performance and a poor result. But I think there’s been a big change this season from all involved, including the fans, where we quickly put the last game behind us and turn all attentions to the next game - which is a really positive trait to have.
At the end of the day, the players and Pauno can only really do their talking on the pitch. And I for one have full confidence, if Joao and Meite are fit, that we will see a response against QPR.