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Mark Bowen On 'Unacceptable' Wigan Defeat

Is the Welshman under pressure at the Madejski Stadium?

Reading v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The Royals now face a relegation battle after an extremely disappointing and lacklustre 3-0 defeat against Wigan at the Madejski Stadium.

We are now just five points off the relegation zone with some difficult games coming up, including a game against Barnsley on Saturday.

Mark Bowen admitted after the game that it was a completely unacceptable performance. He spoke to the official club website and GetReading after the game.

Bowen on the performance

“I’m staggered to be honest with what I’ve just witnessed, over the time I’ve been here as manager, I have come into post-match press conferences and given the players pats on the back - and rightly so.

”Tonight was absolutely unacceptable.

”I’m desperately disappointed tonight. Tonight, they have certainly let themselves down first and foremost, they’ve let the club down and they’ve let me down. What they’ve produced tonight was totally unacceptable.

”From day one when I walked in, I’ve asked them to show desire to make ourselves hard to beat. We certainly weren’t hard to beat tonight.

“We have a good period of raising our game and raising the bar, but it’s about getting that consistency. If we’d shown half the application we showed at Elland Road on Saturday, we’d have been more than competitive against Wigan tonight.

”But we were outbattled, outplayed, out-everythinged tonight. We were second best in every single capacity of the game.

”They didn’t work hard enough, they didn’t want the ball, there was no quality on the ball, they weren’t brave, they were like shrinking violets out there. I haven’t seen that in this group of players in the worst training sessions we’ve had since I walked into the role.

“So I don’t know where that performance came from. I’m struggling to think of any player in my team who did anything right tonight. It’s unacceptable and it has to change for Saturday.

”There seemed to be a casualness in our mentality going into the game. And if you’re a small percentage off your game in this league, any team can beat any team. If you think you can step on that park and think you can place a nice pretty game of football and win, you’ll get beat. Simple as that. The players know this, but they need reminding and reminding again.

”There are not many times I have come away from a game saying we’ve played really poorly since I took over. And the few times that we have been poor, we’ve had a reaction. I expect a huge reaction on Saturday.

”The guys that cross that white line should have a stronger desire and mentality to do things, for their teammates and the club. The desire was sadly lacking tonight. I promise I’ll make sure it’s not lacking on Saturday.”

Bowen on changing to 4-4-2

“We changed it because we were playing at home and wanted to take the game to the opposition and wanted to make sure we were pressing them higher up the pitch.

“We wanted to stop them playing but any system you change - you need players to buy into it. There is no reason why the shouldn’t have. Tonight they didn’t work hard enough - it doesn’t take a lot of work to adapting to, it’s basically a system I dare say they’ve all grown up with.

“But if you’re doing it, you need work, desire, application, braveness - any verb you want to describe but we didn’t have any of it.

“Even the quality on the ball - I haven’t seen that in the worst training session on any given day since I’ve come in so I don’t know where that performance came from.

“In fairness, the one positive is when we have played poorly before we’ve bounced back and got a reaction and I certainly expect that on Saturday.

“We have to but at the same time I’m trying to demand a consistency from my players. I know what they can produce.”

Bowen on a fear factor of playing at home

“There could be. We’ve talked about that and we did at half time - I said to the players you’re playing in front of your own crowd, you have to raise yourself above any individual comments.

“We’re in a team game but if every individual does their job right then you don’t have to worry about the team, that’ll take care of itself.

“I’m struggling for an individual in my team who did any thing right today. I brought Olise on and at least he showed a bit of a careless attitude - he wanted to get on the ball and play.

“I got senior players who either didn’t want the ball or when they did get it they did things which I haven’t seen from them before.

“We’ll look at it over the next few days and I promise the fans we’ll have a different application on Saturday.”

Bowen on reasons for changing system

“When you play away from home you set up a different way - you’re playing a bit deeper and more counter attacking football.

“And when you’re playing Wigan at home, they play 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-2 so among anything else you match them up.

“If you do that and do your jobs correctly you like to think we’ve got more quality. But if you don’t match them up and compete physically and mentally then it doesn’t work.

“Sometimes it’s a lot easier to play when you’re an underdog - it’s a different mentality in front of your own fans. You have to take the game to them, be brave and get on the ball.

“Of course there’s an element of being brave and making tackles, winning headers but you have to be brave when things aren’t quite going right for you and keep getting on the ball.

“At certain times I saw people who didn’t really want to get on the ball. They were happy for one of their teammates to go and get it.”

Bowen on the reaction of the fans

“Of course I can’t blame the crowd and if I had paid my money to come in I dare say I’d have been doing the same thing.

“But on the other side, obviously in an ideal world it doesn’t help. You always want the crowd to get behind the team.

“Clearly the players were suffering from a lack of confidence in periods of the game but I fully sympathise with them.

“It’s my job, the players’ and the staff’s to make sure that all thoughts of fans leaving the ground are no different to mine.

“We turn it around on Saturday and give them something to go away with.”

Bowen on Moore jogging back for third goal

“I’ll speak to my players privately about any misgivings I have about them but it just reflected everything that went on on the night.

“There seemed to be a casualness in our mentality going into the game which - Christ if they don’t know it by now at this level - if you are a small percentage off your game any team can beat any other team.

“Barnsley went to Fulham and won the other week - it just shows if you think you can step onto the park and play a nice pretty game of football then you’ll get beaten, simple as that.

“The players know this but sometimes they have to be reminded and reminded again.”

Bowen on Barnsley being a must-win

“It’s not a must-win game. It only becomes a must-win if we get to the last game of the season if we lose we go down.”

Bowen on relegation fears

“I know what I have got - people might say I am a bit naive but I’ve been in the game 20 years. I know a team - any team - can come here and play poorly.

“I know my players and we will not go anywhere near relegation. But today is a wake-up call for everybody. We have got to get back to what we do and what we do well, simple as that.”

Bowen on going from Leeds performance to tonight

“I’m human and like everybody else am wondering where the hell has that come from?

“I’m not new to this - the job is motivating players and getting the best out of a team of players.

“I’ve been doing it for over 20 years at the highest level in the game - but there will be times like tonight where you fall off a cliff and thing what happened there?

“I know what needs to be done and I’ll do it. Believe me this club won’t go down this year. We’ll get stronger but I need to make sure the building process - which is perhaps more difficult than I thought - goes on.

“Sometimes you have to make hard decisions to make that work.”