It seems that the result on Saturday has split the opinion of the Reading FC fanbase. I’ve seen some people saying how good it was to see the team win ugly - with ugly being understatement of the year - and then I’ve seen others again criticising Bowen’s tactical decisions and style of play, which is understandable considering we finished the game with seven defenders (including three left backs) on the pitch.
I think there's definitely arguments for both, but considering we are now destined for mid-table mediocrity and had literally nothing to play for going into the game against a team fighting for their lives at the bottom, to see the players put in the effort they did and throw their bodies on the line was brilliant to see.
Rinomhota won a penalty in the third minute which Puscas duly converted, and that was enough for all three points as the Royals went on to only have one more shot on target all game, but defend like their lives depended on it.
Again, the entire back four were phenomenal yet again, particularly Michael Morrison and Tom McIntyre - as we managed to secure our third clean sheet on the bounce, which was probably aided by the fact that, like I said earlier, we finished the game with seven defenders on the pitch. Seven.
Here’s how the fans reacted to the key talking points to come from a win that mathematically secured our Championship status for at least another season...
Another clean sheet
For the second time this season, Reading secured a third consecutive clean sheet - surely something that is music to the ears of every Reading fan. This time it came against Charlton.
Osho, Morrison, McIntyre and Blackett have all been superb in the last few games, as has the man behind them between the sticks, Rafael. The two centre backs in particular were phenomenal on Saturday, as the Royals came under the cosh a bit in the second half as Charlton tried to find a way back into the game.
The team that ended the game was defensive minded to say the very least, with Bowen opting to use four of his five substitutes to bring on more defenders - but it did the trick, and sometimes winning ugly is just as good and satisfying as winning beautifully.
The fans were certainly pleased that the defensive record continued to improve...
Massive shout out to Michael Morrison as well, not a glamorous player and he doesn't need to be. Puts a proper shift in every game, does his job, plays to his strengths and is a proper defender. Great leader to show an example to the youngsters #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) July 11, 2020
McIntyre and Osho have been fantastic today. The latter needs more support down the right tho. #ReadingFC.— (@RFC187106) July 11, 2020
Morrison and McIntyre at the back have been sensational since playing together #readingfc— Dominic (@domwindle) July 11, 2020
Good first half that was. Wasn’t a Moore hater by any means, but the difference without him is incredible. Much more forward thinking defence with top quality ball control. Get Richards in instead of Blackett and that looks very very good #readingfc— Cam Baker (@cambaker96) July 11, 2020
Ugly. But what a defensive performance. Haven’t seen us be so commanding in the air in a long long time. #readingfc— Tom Harrow-Smith (@tmgharrowsmith) July 11, 2020
Scrappy but another 3 points in the bag & a clean sheet too! ⚽️ ⚪ #readingfc— stacey (@royal4ever07) July 11, 2020
Yes, we won really, really ugly - it wasn't free-flowing, we were sloppy in possession for the majority of the game - but it was a vital three points, one that secured our Championship status for another season.
However, some fans still found an angle to criticise Bowen for his tactical decisions again and his style of football - which admittedly isn't the most pleasing on the eye by any means.
Personally I think it's a bit unfair to be having a go at Bowen, we ultimately won the game - albeit by making the second half 10 times harder than it really should’ve been - and yes, playing with three defenders on the pitch isn’t going to make for eye-catching entertainment. But, we have to give him some credit don’t we? The fact that if the Championship started when he joined we’d be in fifth position should speak volumes.
Like I said though, the fans are certainly split down the middle when it comes to opinions on the gaffer...
Yes I do mind. . it was dire. We were as good as safe. Bowen said we were safe. So expect to be entertained a bit now. Just 4 shots! Will it get any better now we’re safe? I very much doubt it. #Bowen’s style is far too defensive & negative. #readingfc— Andy C #FBPE (@AndyRFCCharman) July 11, 2020
Why the hell do I still not rate him that much— Reading FC 106 (@Reading106) July 11, 2020
Bowen needs his own PR team to share this sort of content. I'd honestly not care if he leaves in the summer....then I see this#readingfc https://t.co/2bauE4tVg2 pic.twitter.com/WZEYZOEEF9
I’m definitely not sold on Bowen as a manager, by this table speaks for itself. Is he the future of our club? Who knows. But he deserves a chance next season with a fresh squad for sure. #readingfc https://t.co/DjjDfGkPQ5— Alex Stone (@alexgstone) July 11, 2020
I’m actually seeing more defenders coming on. Bowen has lost the plot selection-wise. Good grief. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) July 11, 2020
I’m not Bowen’s biggest fan but this is an incredible stat. Credit where credit is due Bowen has actually done a very good job considering it’s his first manager role. If only we could get the home form turned around #readingfc https://t.co/WrJ4W9R1Ra— Gary Fleming (@garyfleming14) July 11, 2020
Delighted for Bowen, always said he would do well for #ReadingFC and feel there’s much more to come.— Pedro‼️ (@PictonPedro) July 11, 2020
Yet our fanbase moan about formation and selection, even after a win
Get behind the team and manager. Winning ugly brings success in the championship.
Up the ding.
We are a club, and a fanbase, who have always taken pride in our academy system. I'm sure I’m not the only one who’s loving the fact that the likes of McIntyre, Osho, Richards, Olise and Rinomhota are all now key members of the first-team squad.
The key thing is that they are all trusted players too; I don't get nervous when I see any of them on the team sheet, in fact it fills me with confidence. Rinomhota, McIntyre and Osho were brilliant against Charlton and were certainly sent a lot of post-game on Twitter.
These players are the future of our club, and have all proven this season that they can really cut it at this level and will hopefully go on to be very important players for us in the coming seasons.
The fans absolutely seeing academy players progress into the first team, as you can tell from these tweets...
Osho, McIntyre, Rinomhota & Olise all been very good first half, so comfortable on the ball. #readingfc— Tom (@TomMoore0506) July 11, 2020
One huge positive of Bowen is he seems genuine in his trust of / giving chances to academy players. Have had too many managers overlook that in the past. #ReadingFC— Matheus na Casa (@maffff) July 11, 2020
Glad to see Bowen has gone with an actual attacking midfielder/winger instead of 2 left backs today happy we are unchanged aside from that, 4 Academy products getting regular game time. Could be vital for us next season and building a young core to the side ⚽ #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) July 11, 2020
I’m with you @willow1871. We have a top level academy for a reason. So long as we do what we SHOULD have done in 2014 and build the team around our young potential - I can see us making play-offs @BBCBerkshire #readingfc #urzzz— Sam C ⚽️ (@WestBerksSam) July 11, 2020
If Osho does not get given a new contract, the club is losing a gem. #readingfc— Alex Lane-Kieltyka (@alex_elkay21) July 11, 2020
McIntyre, osho, olise. These are the players who are playing for the badge on the front, not the name on the back. These should be guaranteed starters from here on in. #readingfc— Trenchcoat (@Adamhumphries44) July 11, 2020
A good win. Not the prettiest, but they can’t all be can they? And sometimes seeing your team win like that is better than seeing them win 4-0, it shows fight, attitude and character that they have been criticised for not having much of recently.
Now let’s finish the season on a high.