I genuinely thought it couldn’t get any worse than the Huddersfield game. That was the only silver lining I had whilst driving home from Yorkshire that day. I said to myself “at least it can’t get any worse, at least it’s only up from here. Right?”. Wrong.
I had a bad feeling going into the game on Wednesday. I’d already made peace with the fact we might not pick up all three points. Although we’d be in good form, it is virtually the same 11 players playing 90 minutes every single game. So I had an inkling that this game would be one too many for the players and we might labour to a draw.
But that second half was totally and utterly unacceptable on every single level. Blackpool were good, don’t get me wrong, but I think any professional team in the country would’ve scored three against us the way we played and conducted ourselves.
The visitors deserved everything we got, and we got everything we deserved - in fact, there would’ve been no complaints from me if Blackpool had gone on to score one, two, even three more. We were that bad.
Here’s how the fans reacted to the performance, and it’s clear to see they were just as angry as me...
I haven’t been as angry at a set of players since that 3-0 loss to Wigan under Mark Bowen. We weren’t great in the first half, nowhere near it in fact. But we’d managed to find ourselves 2-0 up and in a position where we should’ve comfortably seen the game out.
But we came out in the second half as if we didn’t expect Blackpool to up their game or come at us. As if the three points had been won in the first half. It was pathetic, quite frankly.
I’m not one to usually scathe a performance like this, but this performance deserves just that. Here’s how the fans reacted to the Royal crumble in the second half...
That second half was one of the worst halves I’ve ever seen. We were comfortable in the first half and then they decide to sit back for the whole of the second half. What did they expect to happen? No fight compared to Blackpool too. Absolutely pathetic. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) October 20, 2021
Fair play to Blackpool for the turn around, but that was an abysmal second half and some pathetic game management. #readingfc— Matthew (@cassell_matthew) October 20, 2021
Fully deserved. We’ve been pony all night. Absolutely pathetic. #readingfc— Ed Ryding (@EdRyding) October 20, 2021
Awful second half, no fight or desire, which Blackpool had in that second half#readingfc— Will R (@Will157_13) October 20, 2021
Awful second half. Once that Puscas miss happened momentum changed. Takes away from the good first half as that second half was so awful #readingfc— James (@JamesHiggins316) October 20, 2021
Woke up, still fuming. I can accept defeat however it’s the manner of it that’s the biggest worry for me. The way we crumbled so easily after being 2 up. As I said, there was more than enough experience on that pitch to see the game out. #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) October 21, 2021
Well played Blackpool, fully deserved win. #ReadingFC showing how fragile they are. As soon as the first went in, we knew we would lose. Saturday will be interesting as that is going to hurt the squad— Dave Roberts (@LaughingLima) October 20, 2021
Hindsight is a wonderful thing & all that but our game management was poor. We were fortunate to be 2-0 up, Southwood had some great saves to keep it that way, then we didn’t show the guise to grab the game and control it. Blackpool were better tonight. Tired legs? #readingfc— Josh W (@josh_j_w) October 20, 2021
I went to see Jason Manford on Tuesday and he was one of the best comedians I’ve ever seen live, however that second half was even more comical than the entirety of his show. #readingfc— Micah (@1871M1C4H) October 20, 2021
Just googled what I could do in 45 minutes. All of the options were preferable to watching my team collapse like a warm Easter egg against a side who share their nickname with a fruit @TheTilehurstEnd #readingfc— Ben Thomas (@mrblthomas) October 20, 2021
However horrendously, disgustingly, embarrassingly bad Wednesday night was, this league does not give you any time to dwell. Which is probably a pro of it being such a demanding league, you usually get a chance to respond pretty quickly.
And we have a chance to respond on Saturday against Blackburn. A chance we simply have to take. We managed to respond immediately after our last loss to Derby, but this loss is a whole different kettle of fish to that one. This one will hurt the players, and rightly so.
The fans expect, and deserve, to see a different side to this team to the one they showed on Wednesday...
Can’t expect to defend for the whole second half and not concede. Absolutely no attacking intent and got exactly what we deserved. Improvement needed before Saturday #readingfc— James Earnshaw (@james_e1871) October 20, 2021
That second half was dreadful from #readingfc. Just sat back and took it, something we really didn't need to do. That really should've been three points.— Lewis Radbourne (@lewisradbourne1) October 20, 2021
However, no need to overreact. This is just a blip in the road. Need a reaction like we had against Cardiff on Saturday now
Dreadful performance in truth. Poor 1st half. 2nd even worse. Couldn’t keep hold of the ball or do anything for that matter. Need to respond on Saturday #ReadingFC— Louis Roberts (@LouisRobWrites) October 20, 2021
Awful. But, nothing Pauno can do about sloppy passes/missed chances. Not a great bench to change things either. No excuses, but Hoilett & Halilovic out (on top of Meite & Joao) does stifle our attack. Got what we deserved tonight. Well done Blackpool. On to Saturday. #ReadingFC— Jonnie Harris (@jonnieharris99) October 20, 2021
Well… that was frustrating. Felt like someone hoovered up our energy with a dyson in the second half. Dust ourselves down and respond ⚪️ #readingfc— Luke (@Luke1871_) October 20, 2021
No complaints about the result. One of the worst second half performances in memory.— Olly Allen (@OllyAllen_) October 20, 2021
As ever, the response is most important. Derby loss was forgotten quickly after Cardiff. But I certainly don't fancy heading into B'mouth/Millwall games after consecutive losses. #readingfc
I’m still rather angry, as you can probably tell. Not much more needs to be said than what’s already been said though now. We all know how bad it was. It can’t be changed, we can't go back in time and play any differently.
But what we can control is Saturday. And we need to see something a lot, lot better than what we were subjected to in that second half. I’m not hopeful either, unless we get some players back from injury, because if the players looked that knackered on Wednesday, they’re not going to be looking any perkier on Saturday.
If I was Tony Mowbray, I’d be licking my licks watching that second half. It’s up to the players now to do something about it, and show us that it was just a blip in the road rather than a sign of what’s to come.