So, that’s that then. It’s a very strange situation isn’t it? We finished six places higher than we did last season, comfortably avoiding relegation but somehow I still feel more negative and down about the club’s situation compared to the last day of last season! And I have a sneaky suspicion that I won’t be the only one in that camp.
The actual game on Wednesday night was pretty much deemed irrelevant after the final whistle on Twitter as attentions of the Reading fans turned towards next season and what kind of squad we might be seeing at the Mad Stad next campaign.
With a whole host of players out of contract plus high earners such as Swift, Moore and Puscas potentially being sold - it could be a whole new-look Reading we see at the beginning of next season, just as Sam Baldock stated last weekend.
Bowen even said after the game that the prospect of signing Ovie Ejaria on a permanent basis looks unlikely due to financial restrictions, which tipped a lot of fans - including myself - over the edge.
Here’s what the fans had to say regarding the key talking points...
The 22 year-old has been a revelation this season for Reading, particularly in the first half of the season. He has also very quickly become a huge fans’ favourite, so you can imagine the reaction when Bowen revealed in his post match media duties that he is unsure whether the option to make Ovie’s move a permanent one will be taken up.
He is a supremely talented football, and one that would make any Championship team better, so the fact that we may not be able to get it over the line - after spending the whole season 100% sure that he’d be ours come July - is a real hammer blow.
The fans certainly weren't happy and were left worried at the fact that if we can’t afford his wages, how much trouble are we in financially?
Gutted when I thought Brentford were gonna nap Ejaria last summer but even more so now we aren’t signing him permanently when the option was there . Frustrating end product at times but absolutely loved watching him make defenders look silly. Serious talent #ReadingFC— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) July 22, 2020
Swifts wages reported at being 35k a week. Surely Ejaria isn’t requesting this. #readingfc— cameron macken (@ronniemac93) July 23, 2020
Have said it for a while that we had an OPTION to sign Ejaria never an obligation. Sad we have lost out on him but financial security is key here. #readingfc— Stuart (@fents17) July 22, 2020
Gutted if Reading can't sign Ejaria on a permanent deal, the teams looks so much worse off without him along with Joao. Pretty much sums up a pretty grim night for the club. God knows what will happen between now and October #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) July 22, 2020
Losing Ejaria cuts in a different way to Swift. I think it's been the continuous assumption he'll be here next year, combined with the fact that he just feels like a Reading player. We've always been told we have an obligation to buy, how can a club renege on that? #readingfc https://t.co/IidQcpw0Ux— Matthew Williamson (@Photomattic) July 23, 2020
I really don’t understand how we can afford to pay the likes of McCleary to sit on the bench for the last month but we can’t afford Ejaria with all the players going. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) July 23, 2020
It’s been on the cards for a while (by a while, I probably mean about three years) but it looks like this season, there is going to be a massive overturn of players at Reading.
Bowen is certainly not happy with the mentality of the side at the minute - but surely it’s his job to instill a mentality on them? Anyway, he has promised the fanbase that it'll be a different team that walk out for the first game of next season - but he also promised that the players wouldn't lie down in the last few fixtures, but we all know how that turned out.
The fans are certainly expecting a clear out, and i think they’re going to get their wish...
Let the purge commence! Looking forward to seeing all the dross and hugely overrated players exit the club. We've been desperate for a chance to hit the reset button on the squad for years. As multiple managers have found out, the bulk of this squad aren't that good #ReadingFC— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) July 23, 2020
Next season starts now. Let the clear out begin. Shambles #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) July 22, 2020
Awful end to the season. Big clear out needed over the summer. Feels like the whole club needs to reset. #readingfc— Ben (@BenParsons89) July 22, 2020
#ReadingFC over the last 4 seasons; The players were in awe of Jaap, even when we were bad. The players never rated Clement, the players lost interest in Jose and thanks to Corona, they just turned up under Bowen. Note the common denominator. Time for the long awaited clear out!— Blue & White Jester (@bw_jester_rfc) July 23, 2020
If we’re having a clear out let’s get Aluko off the books & if we’re not going to give McNulty a proper chance let him go to, with everyone out of contract and swift going and the loanee’s not coming back surely it balances the books a lot #readingfc— Miles (@Milesyyy12) July 23, 2020
Have backed Bowen from the off and through the good and bad but we have been absolute shite since the restart, can’t help but feel that if the squad is being overhauled, so should the management. #ReadingFC— joely (@dingjoely) July 22, 2020
Am i bothered we now can’t sign Ejaria? No. Am I bothered Swift is leaving? No. Clear out this whole squad and start again. Including the manager. #readingfc— Jamie Austin (@austin_j_powers) July 22, 2020
Roll on the next few days and big clear out of absolute clowns from the squad #readingfc— Jordan (@JC_1871) July 22, 2020
Is Bowen the man?
Again, questions about whether Mark Bowen is the right man to lead us into next season were thrown up on Twitter after the game.
Like any manager, I believe he deserves his crack at building his own team - which is going to be seriously hard considering the financial constraints now. However, when he makes promises such as the ones he did on Wednesday night about the mentality being different next season, surely he’s had since October to change the mentality of the squad? And it just hasn't happened.
Fans are still split when it comes to Bowen, but i’d still say he will be in charge for the first game of next year, but will definitely be under pressure from the get go...
#readingfc I never wanted Bowen, but we need stability & he deserves the chance to build a team. The club is blessed with some great young players, let's have a proper clear out & bring in some leaders to make the difference. If we can stay afloat financially, futures bright.— GORDIAN PARADIGM (@GORDIANPARA) July 22, 2020
Best league finish since 16/17but I'm only seeing Bowen out? Who the hell would come into this club at the moment? Crazy finances✔️ Owners making a lot of misguided decisions ✔️ Fans coming for your throat always✔️ "Good" players being consistently bad for 3 seasons✔️ #readingfc— finn (@FinnC77) July 23, 2020
We’ve tried managers with championship experience (Adkins & McD) ex-footballing legends (Stam), highly regarded assistants looking to step into management (Clarke, Clement, Bowen) and foreign exports trying to make a name for themselves (Gomes). None have worked. #readingfc— Ed Ryding (@EdRyding) July 23, 2020
Bowen is not the worst manager we’ve ever had by no means, but I’m not sure he has any real plan/philosophy ? He just doesn’t seem to really know what he’s doing #readingfc— Jacob (@HawleyJaco) July 23, 2020
Currently on my knees, praying that away fans are going to be allowed at games next season. Really not sure I can survive a whole season of just Home games, playing Mark Bowen’s soulless stuff. #readingfc— Jonny (@JMP1871) July 23, 2020
I suspect that when the Dais appointed Bowen with 35 games left in the season they expected a top half finish/push for playoffs not a brief upturn in form followed by ever worsening performances/results, plus an average 1.09 PPG & just one home win during 2020 #readingfc— Andy C #FBPE (@AndyRFCCharman) July 23, 2020
Also heard Mark Bowen’s interview. I actually think we should back him. Let him build his own team. Don’t forget he’s still got a few gomes staff members too. He’s picked players from a bad bunch. #readingfc— cameron macken (@ronniemac93) July 23, 2020
I’m just glad this season over, but I am very worried for what is to come in the next two or three months. Do not surprised to see a huge amount of the first team squad be sold or released.
The Reading we watch next campaign will be completely different personnel wise, let’s just hope Bowen sticks to his promise of making them different mentality wise too.
Big thank you to all the fans this season for tweeting out their opinions and thoughts, I literally couldn't write these every week without them. Literally.