I hate that I love this club so much. It is so emotionally draining. We’re not only a third of the way through the season, and we’ve had the lows of the opening few games, to the highs of the winning streak not so long ago, to now the lows once again.
Saturday night, in the eyes of most neutrals anyway, came under the ‘free hit’ category for Reading. A very, very depleted Reading squad coming up against a Bournemouth team who hadn’t lost a game so far this season. I think it’s clear who the bookies favourite was.
The start from us, however, was brilliant. We looked fearless and full of energy - which is probably a byproduct of having the last week off. But after missing a few gilt-edged chances, which we will come on to later, you always had the feeling that the Cherries would punish us.
And punish us they did. Solanke and Lowe bagged the goals for the visitors who ran out 2-0 winners. The most frustrating thing? We gifted them both goals. Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points...
I hate having a sole focus on Puscas, because I really don’t like singling players out. However, poor George is having a mare of a time out there at the moment.
His link-up play has actually improved in my opinion, but whenever he gets within 18 yards of the goal you can almost see the confidence leave his body. He looks like a shell, and it’s sad to see.
He missed two big chances in the opening 15 minutes - one he would’ve been offside for anyway (but he still has to score) and another from a wonderful Swifty rabona. And in the second he missed another big chance to level the scoring at the back post.
Here’s how the fans reacted to his performance...
Feel terrible for Pușcaș, however poor he's been and however frustrating it is as fan's watching I can guarantee he feels worse. All the people cheering when he got taken off, he's a human being trying his best. Yes he's struggling now but that won't help at all #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) October 30, 2021
Not that I can really think of anything to defend puscas on, he shows no threat. Maybe 1 or 2 hold ups per game that you want from 1 upfront.— Niall - Guilty, I support Reading. (@Reading106) October 30, 2021
He hasn't looked like scoring when he's had the chance, obviously I want him to do well, but he's showing nothing. #Readingfc
Puscas has had a mare tonight!!!!!! How many more chances will he miss! #Readingfc— BerkshireBoys (@BerkshireBoys_) October 30, 2021
I do feel for george Puscas because he tries his best but doesn’t get the service he needs and the josh Laurent chance was the best opportunity he had to get the goal he “needs” but Laurent’s reaction says it all tbf they don’t trust him one bit #readingfc— joe (@joewilliams2002) October 31, 2021
Feel like it’s got to this point with Puscas. #ReadingFC pic.twitter.com/PfAaTfyHQk— Scott Graham (@ScottGraham_10) October 30, 2021
Would hate to a casino with Puscas, lads never gambled on anything on his life #ReadingFC— Alex Everson (@Readingfanman) October 30, 2021
Puscas of two years would have buried so many chances this season. Lack of confidence is a real thing and the sooner they get him back mentally right the sooner we'll begin to pick up points again #readingfc— Sean Mobsby (@SeanMobsby) October 30, 2021
We were well in the game in the first half. We’d started strongly, should’ve been two or three up and although the visitors had grown into it, we were holding firm. However, then we gifted Gary Cahill with the freedom of the RG2 postcode who found Solanke at the back stick for their opener.
And then, midway through he second half, Drinkwater got caught in possession in our third and Bournemouth well and truly made him pay. 2-0, game over.
That’s the most frustrating thing. Both goals were entirely avoidable. If you give Bournemouth opportunities like we did, you deserve to be punished.
Here’s the fans’ reaction to the defending...
Drinkwater loses the ball and makes no attempt to even win the ball back. Played mate #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) October 30, 2021
It’s so disappointing when a player with the quality and experience in Drinkwater costs us both goals, teams like Bournemouth don’t need to play well as they’ve got so much individual quality available #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) October 30, 2021
Played well in the 1st half & should have been 2 up before Bmouth even had a sniff— Al (@dadros70) October 30, 2021
But we had Puscas up front who literally can't hit the proverbial barn door
And again we lose a goal by insisting on marking blades of grass - 2 free @ the back post - criminal defending#readingfc
Might just be me but Laurent caught ball watching at that corner and let Solanke go free. Poor again at set piece defending! #readingfc— Royals Stu (@RoyalStu1871) October 30, 2021
Lovely defending from a set-piece yet again #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) October 30, 2021
Typical, Bournemouth score from a corner that shouldn’t have been! Ball didn’t cross the line! Poor defending at the corner anyway! #readingfc— James (@B3rt1e) October 30, 2021
6 goals conceded in 2 and a half games, some blame needs to start being put on the awful defending!! #readingfc— stuart edmonds (@ednoni) October 30, 2021
That defending is embarrassing, 11 men in the box and Bournemouth win 2 free headers. Inexcusable. The corner before we kept 2 men up and defended it so well. So why change back to old bad habits? #readingfc— harry⚡️ (@harryarthur10) October 30, 2021
I think it’s fair to say that Pauno was, shall we say, a bit frustrated after the game. Although none of us were in the room for his post-match media duties, you can tell by his words that he was not a happy man.
He urged people to show more respect to his players who are giving their “heart and soul” for the club at the moment. Who exactly he was directing those comments at it’s hard to tell. I don’t think it was the fans, however some Loyal Royals felt otherwise.
Personally I think it’s good to see him so passionate, and let’s be honest, he’s not wrong with his comments is he?
Here’s how the fans reacted to the his interview...
You know what, fair play. Every game there's abuse. He literally has no choice. Our previous owners were dodgy as, so can't buy anyone. Sold players we'd dearly love to keep. Injuries galore. Let's be happy with safety.— Steve Poole (@TheRealStavioni) October 30, 2021
Get Pauno’s frustration, but when you see players repeatedly spurn very good chances, I’m not entirely sure what reaction you’re expecting from fans. The fact is, before the game, he and his side had 100% backing. Poor displays added the frustration, nothing else. #readingfc— Matt Joy (@MattJoy96) October 30, 2021
Can't understand people saying Paunović isn't changing things, what the hell is he supposed to change, we don't have any players fit for other options right now #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) October 30, 2021
Could quite easily be the beginning of the end for pauno if he’s turning on the fans….. Do see his point though #readingfc https://t.co/KDXcyI3A0a— Nathan Adams (@Nathan_adamsss) October 30, 2021
Pauno clinging on to positives; and blaming the media and fans isn’t a good look.— Pedro‼️ (@PictonPedro) October 30, 2021
I’m sorry but only 4 teams have lost more than us this season. Minus 9pts and we are well and truly in the deep stuff #ReadingFC
With 11 fit players Pauno’s at the mercy of Lady Luck, when on form, we’ve proven we can string wins together. When out of form, his hands are somewhat tied. #readingfc— Paulo (@Paulo_1871) October 31, 2021
A tough night all in all. But the most worrying thing for me is what’s to come. The same 11 players, rightly or wrongly, are pretty much playing every 90 minutes at the moment. And with two tough away games coming up, and on the back of three consecutive losses, it could get worse before it gets better.
I for one will stick with Pauno and stick with the players. We simply have to.