If you thought the return to Championship football after lockdown could get any worse after the late draw to Stoke and the embarrassing performance against Derby County - then you were wrong. Very, very wrong.
Yes, Brentford are an excellent team - proven by where they are in the table and the amount of goals they’ve scored this season. But they didn’t need to get out of first gear for the entire evening as they ran out easy 3-0 winners against Reading.
As Mark Bowen said after the game, we got nowhere near them and didn’t lay a fingertip on them - let alone a glove - all game. The defending for all three goals was laughable, particularly for the opener and the second, with the first being a carbon copy of Stoke’s equaliser the weekend before last.
How many years now have we been saying the same thing at exactly the same stage of the season? It’s like Groundhog Day. Players on the proverbial beach already - and that’s a massive understatement.
So, as you can tell, this is going to be a very jolly edition of Fans Verdict. Here’s how you all reacted to some of the key talking points to come from Tuesday evening’s drubbing...
The defending... again
Brentford’s front three are one of the most lethal in the entire division - with Watkins, Mbuemo and Benhrama scoring the same amount of goals as the entire Reading squad combined this season before kick off on Tuesday (which means the trio have now surpassed our tally, due to Mbuemo’s opener).
However, any pub team you find on a Sunday morning in your local park would’ve been able to defend better than Bowen’s men did for the first two goals. Two free headers from a corner for the first and everybody standing like statues for the second to allow Da Silva to run through and tap home a rebound from a shot from the edge of the box - that Da Silva himself took.
I think we’ve said all that can be said about the defending really. Inexcusable, laughable and unacceptable. And the fans certainly are not a happy bunch...
Our set piece defending is absolutely horrific#readingfc— micah (@m1c4hE19) June 30, 2020
Either my Ifollow froze or our defence failed to move defending a set piece again....... #ReadingFC— Ben Waite (@etiawneb) June 30, 2020
subbuteo defending for the second #readingfc— Dave Stacey (@dave_stacey) June 30, 2020
Embarrassing defending, Liam Moore at fault for another goal losing his man in the box. #notasgoodashethinksheis #ReadingFC— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) June 30, 2020
Awful AWFUL defending once again. How many goals have Reading conceded from free headers/space in the box this season? @willow1871 @TimDellor #readingfc— Tom (@TomMoore0506) June 30, 2020
Pull every player back for a corner and Brentford have 2 free headers to score. Pathetic defending! #readingfc— Mark Harding (@markharding1988) June 30, 2020
Our defending is shambolic to say the least. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) June 30, 2020
Shocking defending from Reading, two free headers for the goal #readingfc— Stevie p (@stevie_p1871) June 30, 2020
With defending like that and teams below us picking up points how can people be so dismissive about relegation? #readingfc— Matt Bell (@mattbell40) June 30, 2020
They just didn’t look interested, did they? And how many times have we said that over the last few seasons?
I don’t know whether they think we’re safe already but if we are not careful, and lose against Luton on the weekend, there is a possibility of us getting dragged down into yet another relegation scrap.
All us fans ask for is that the players go out and play like they care for the badge as much as we do. That’s all we ask. And when we don't get it, serious questions are usually asked - as you can tell from these tweets from Tuesday evening...
The players may have nothing to really play for. But that’s not stopping other mid table teams since lockdown. It shows they can’t even be bothered to play for the sake of winning a football match. That’s when you know they don’t care anymore #readingfc— Tom Harrow-Smith (@tmgharrowsmith) June 30, 2020
There's so many players in this #ReadingFC squad who only "turn up" if X is playing, or if we set out a certain way. Fed up with it... Please just get players that turn up week in week out, and do the easy stuff well! It can't be that hard surely?!— Blue & White Jester (@bw_jester_rfc) June 30, 2020
Absolutely pathetic where is the pride and passion in playing for the club? Predictable team selection and subs welcome to the same old comfort zone #readingfc— Johnny Hunt (@Huntyroyal) June 30, 2020
It doesn't come down to money. If it did then smaller and lower paid teams and players would all be rubbish. Its about professional pride, desire, work ethic and club culture. Something we have none off #readingfc— Roberto Dawson (@Rob_Dawson93) June 30, 2020
What an embrassing performance this has been- men against boys from the first minute. Need to show more fight in our next few games with the sides battling relegation or we could find ourselves dragged into trouble. #readingfc— James Earnshaw (@JamesEarnshaw10) June 30, 2020
See us getting beaten by Luton to be fair. No fight about us at all, didn't even look like scoring today and were happily outplayed. Bowen being stubborn again with the strikers and majority not interested. Did Moore even have a go at anyone today? #readingfc— Max Howard (@MaxHoward_15) June 30, 2020
Brentford are miles ahead of us as a team but what’s most frustrating about that performance is lack of fight or any sort of desire to go and make a game of it. Just rolled over and let them take the piss out of us #readingfc— Jack (@jackpeeds) June 30, 2020
Just wretched from #readingfc - going through the motions with little fight or quality. Wouldn't be at all surprised to see them dragged into yet another relegation scrap.— George Flood (@GeorgeFlood24) June 30, 2020
Yes, the players are nowhere near up to par at the moment, and seriously need to look at themselves in the mirror (again, how many times have we said this in the last three years?) before the trip to Luton on Saturday - but, once again, some of Bowen’s decisions on Saturday were questionable to say the least.
One up top without Joao in the team just doesn't work. Period. End of debate. Yet Bowen seems to keep trying to make it work, whether that be with Baldock or Puscas. It’s the same end result, every single time.
The switch to 4-4-2 didn't work either and the decision to bring off Olise, who was one of our few bright lights on Tuesday, was also a bit strange.
Here’s the fans reaction to another bad day at the office for the former Stoke City assistant, with a fair few actually wanting Bowen to go...
The players have been utter garbage today but the blame is fully on Bowen, how has he not changed the system to counter Brentford, really, really, poor management #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) June 30, 2020
Really hope Puscas isn't the new Rakels. Bowen's picked the wrong 11 today #readingfc— Michael (@EmjayG89) June 30, 2020
15 points out of 51 since his contract renewal, bye bye Bowen. #readingfc— ReeceRFC (@Reece_RFC) June 30, 2020
Bowen put himself in the job, can he please now put himself out of the job. #BowenOut #readingfc— Andy C #FBPE (@AndyRFCCharman) June 30, 2020
How long till all those ‘he’s sorted the defence and got us playing’ people agree that Bowen is miles out of his depth? #ReadingFC— Jimbo 3.0 (@1871Jimbo) June 30, 2020
♂️ so predictable.— Craig (@Craigo1871) June 30, 2020
What was Bowen trying to do with that? #readingfc
@willow1871 don’t worry, Bowen said we will keep working hard until it’s mathematically not possible to make the playoffs. God knows that our performances will be like after #readingfc— Richard (Dougal) (@F8RDR) June 30, 2020
Bowen-ball seems to solely rely on having a big strong man up top (João) to win and hold the ball & bring in others. When he's not been injured we haven't been able to adapt and change the system and tactics to suit the personal that are available, very worrying #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) June 30, 2020
I'd say that Jim Bowen would do a better job at #ReadingFC than Mark Bowen and he's been dead for two years— Fifth_Timer (@LeefroMilch) June 30, 2020
Well, that was a fun read wasn't it?
In all seriousness, a lot more needs to be done by everyone - the club, the manager and the players - to try and worm ourselves out of this rut that we’re in.
Win on Saturday and a huge weight is lifted of the shoulders of everybody, but lose and we could see ourselves slide into a very slippery position.