I saw a question on Twitter from Max Rushden (never heard of him) asking ahead of his radio show which team fans felt most indifferent to, and which team stirred absolutely no (the ‘no’ was typed in capitals) emotion. Many people put Reading. Whilst I was livid, furious and convinced that if they’d said that in my airspace I would fight them with all my limbs, I found it hard to disagree after the weekend’s big fat L.
It was a quick turn around from the Derby game and to be honest, I wasn’t up for it. I am (and have been for a years now) incredibly jealous of Brentford and what they have become, despite their high turnover of managers. They are a good side and it just goes to highlight how massively the tables have turned for both clubs. Coupling that with the fact we are in some sort of weird football limbo meant this game, for me, served to be the footballing equivalent of a shrug. That said, if I had been attending the match in person, I would have been absolutely buzzing, but the thought of spending half time with Snoop Dogg advertising tacos and sending them to the “chateau” (doesn’t even rhyme) made me feel a bit “meh” as the kids would type into WhatsApp.
The soundbites after the weekend’s defeat were like the performance itself: lazy, polite and ineffective. Rino explained that the last two games should have yielded (he didn’t use that word, it’s mine) more points and that we were “unlucky”. If I’d had a pound for every time a Reading player had said that over the last five or six years, I’d have literally £77 (probably).
I’m genuinely of the opinion now that I don’t care who leaves in the summer player wise. To reinforce this issue, I looked at the official website at the current team list and, as we’ve mentioned many times on this site before, it’s frightening to think how much money has been wasted on paying those players who have been completely the wrong fit for us. The main thing is that Mark Bowen is trusted to do what he wants. He knows there won’t be money available and you can sense his growing frustration with the way the team are playing and the current state of the squad.
The 6pm kick off played havoc with the “normal” timetable in our house. I dined quickly on Chicken Orzo; apparently it was a Joe Wicks recipe (coz he’s not infiltrated my house much over the last few months...) and to be fair to all involved (my wife for cooking it, Wicks for creating the recipe), it was alright. I ate whilst watching highlights of our last game against Brentford and it reminded me of how good Brentford were/are. Their results since the restart have made people from outside the Championship sit up and take notice of them and I feared the worst as I nibbled another piece of garlic bread.
I’ve been on the commentary team’s case since the restart but there was a very good and engaging conversation about the need to sell players and the possible points deduction. This was followed by the general performance over the season and the team recruitment. I found it hard to disagree with anything Tim or Ady said. I started thinking about the players that weren’t even in the squad (mainly Boye, Araruna and Aluko) and it highlighted yet again the kind of recruitment that has gone on over the years. Criminally, two of those were signed in the last year...
The moments before kick off gave the club an opportunity to remember the victims of the terrorist attack a week on Saturday. I couldn’t help but feel sad that I wasn’t in the stadium with the other Reading locals to make this occasion, but the silence was held well and the wreath of flowers was a classy touch.
Like Saturday, Reading settled well into the game. Certainly for the first 10 minutes, the movement was fluid and the passing crisp with flashes of threat on the visitors goal. The second lot of 10 was a completely different kettle of sea creatures when we failed to get out of our own half. On 22 minutes, Brentford had their breakthrough and, once again, saw Reading do their level best to masquerade as a team trying desperately to keep the ball out of their own net.
Two free headers meant that the goal looked like something out of a training routine. No urgency. No commitment. No communication. Just absolute nonsense. We were then treated to a drinks break and Bowen used the opportunity to throw expletives at his team like verbal hand grenades. Honestly, it was as pitiful a goal as you were likely to see.
It then looked like I was being hacked as random bits of code and meaningless digits flashed up intermittently on the feed for about five minutes. I hypothesised (love that word) that it could be any number of foreboding things: the salaries of the players, the number of Trump supporters currently in circulation, the amount of hours I’ve wasted watching Reading play...
Olise had a good chance to equalise, volleying the clearance from Swift’s free kick which was pushed over the bar by an outstretched Brentford leg. That took us to half time and I’d loved to have been an insect with flying capabilities on the wall in the Reading dressing room. The Berkshire Megadome fell silent as the players trudged off.
I spent my half time getting the washing in (wasn’t dry, why would it be?), feeding the cats who were circling me like a couple of sharks (not sure what kind - must give that some thought) around a spilled chum bucket and grabbing a cold one from the fridge: a lovely little grisette (3.8%) called Little Fanfare by Duration. The can itself was so nice that I sent a photo of it to a colleague who appreciates these things. I don’t want people thinking I’m a beer snob, I enjoy a warm pint of Carling as much as the next geezer, but when at home I like variety and difference and to drink a beer which sounds like it could be the name of an album (or single) by an indie-folk band reliant on instruments you’d only find in the southern states of America. The drop had a lovely hue to it and a gentle yet full hopped flavour which left a warming after taste with every mouthful. Highly recommended, 8.5/10.
Predictable changes in personnel arrived on the 59th-minute mark. I was surprised that Baldock was hooked for Puscas. He wasn’t pulling up any trees with his performance, but having one up front, for players their size, makes no sense to me, not with our current “hoof and hope” style. McCleary was awarded another cameo for 30 minutes or so in what will surely be his final games for the club.
And then Brentford got their second. Rafael spilled the shot and the only person to react was DaSilva who knocked it high into the net. On the replay, you can see that the defence were doing their best to play statues. For the second time in four days, Reading found themselves 2-0 down in a game where their opponents hadn’t even broken sweat. The positive (if it is a positive) is that it took them longer to concede the two goals. At that point, I stopped watching. I mean didn’t stop watching physically, I just wasn’t really paying attention. Brentford scored a third and that was that.
What happens on Saturday now is absolutely crucial, not least because Luton are very much in the mire themselves. The performance from all the players was abject at best and the lack of effort and commitment was troubling. They were all over the place, and even more concerning is that by asking the out-of-contract players to stay on to the end of the season, the club is being drained of even more money. There has to be a huge response on Saturday.
I still disagree with those social media goblins who said they were apathetic to Reading and basically saw us as pointless. At least we gift their teams wins without them having to really earn them. Surely that must stand us in good stead with those fans? Surely?
Until next time.