As you may or may not know, I wrote the match report for Tuesday night’s game. It felt wrong writing about the football then, and it stills feels wrong now.
I want to start by saying that only one message came from the game on Tuesday. Spoiler alert: it wasn't that Pauno’s tactics were awful, it wasn’t that Tom Holmes should’ve started nor was it the desperate lack of cohesion the team seemed to show.
It was the fact that, at the end of the day, football is just a game (no matter how much I constantly repeat the famous Bill Shankly saying), and a lot of things are a lot more important.
Thankfully, John Fleck was discharged from hospital on Wednesday after leaving the stadium conscious. It could’ve been a lot worse, and we all still hope that it isn’t something that rules him out long term.
That was the obviously the the big talking point to come from the game, but there were elements of the football that the Reading fans weren't all that happy with too...
It’s a moment that’s been largely talked about since it happened, and understandably so. Like I said previous, it’s events like this that just bring you back down the earth and put everything into perspective.
It was a scary moment, and I wasn’t even in the ground. I can only begin to imagine how Fleck’s team mates, friends and family felt in that moment. There was an outcry of horror, shock and, most importantly, support for Fleck from the fans after the game...
Bad result. But ultimately, the main thing is Fleck is ok #readingfc— Jack (@jacktindall1) November 23, 2021
From a footballing perspective, Tom Holmes was again a talking point among the Reading faithful. Although, this time the fans weren't praising his performance, rather they were questioning why he wasn't in the team.
I think 99% of the fans agreed on the fact that Holmes should not have been dropped. I agree with that sentiment, but I am not surprised that he did find himself on the bench.
Holmes deserves to feel more than disgruntled with the fact he didn’t start on Tuesday, but he’d do a good job to be more disgruntled than the fans...
No way Holmes deserved to be dropped after his performance on Saturday. Pauno bottled dropping Moore and took the easy option. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) November 23, 2021
I would be pretty pissed off if I was Tom Holmes, what a farce #readingfc— Oly Williams (@olywilliams19) November 23, 2021
Not a fan of dropping Holmes at all... hopefully Moore has a blinder to justify it but what message does that send to Holmes (someone we will possibly need to keep next season if cutting costs) #readingfc https://t.co/p4eqGIHSjF— Max Howard (@MaxHoward_15) November 23, 2021
How has Holmes been dropped? Was arguably our best player on Saturday #readingfc— James (@JamesHiggins316) November 23, 2021
If the fans were annoyed before the game having seen Holmes on the bench, boy were they annoyed when Pauno’s, shall we say, questionable tactics revealed themselves.
I’ve been thinking about it all day and I still don’t know what the game plan was or what Pauno was trying to achieve. It was all very, very confusing.
And it meant we couldn’t get any kind of foothold in the game. The ‘Plan B’ wasn't all that great either when it happened. The fans were quite annoyed...
Reading have done exactly what Pauno has set the team up to do, stifle Sheffield. Three midfielders is to keep an eye on their wide forwards, our two CAMs can mark their DMs. It's just very, very dull to watch, and there's no plan once we actually win the ball. #readingfc— Matthew Williamson (@Photomattic) November 23, 2021
It’s bad enough not having a plan B, tonight we didn’t even have a plan A.— James (@B3rt1e) November 23, 2021
Things need to change fast or we are heading in only one direction!
1 point from two home games is just not good enough! #readingfc @ReadingFC #urzzzz
Why was Holmes not starting over Moore? Why did he wait until injury time before bringing on our second sub? Fair enough throwing Dann up top but why did he bring on a defender not an attacker whilst doing so? No plan B. Never looked like scoring, no urgency, nothing. #readingfc— Tom (@TomMoore0506) November 23, 2021
Second best all over the pitch, inept tactics and team selection. Why name Azeez on the bench if you’re not going to use him, game was crying out for some movement up top. Every midfielder played out of position and Moore just as poor in the opposing half as his own #readingfc— Lee Wyeth (@leewyeth) November 23, 2021
Seeing people say we need to improve or we are in trouble. No, we are already in BIG trouble. Paunovic doesn’t know how to improve us. Poor tactics and game management yet again, players look demotivated, one win in seven, 3 points off the relegation zone. Big trouble. #readingfc— Paul Smith (@Skeptichead) November 24, 2021
Still can’t work out what the supposed game plan was last night, we were dreadful.— Sam Richards (@SammyRich89) November 24, 2021
- Why was the formation changed after 2 decent results?
- How could Tom Holmes be dropped?
- Why was Ejaria asked to play in his own half for 90 plus minutes? #readingfc
Fault lies squarely with the manager. Tactics all wrong again. Failed to turn up in either half. Safety from relegation far from settled #ReadingFC— joely (@dingjoely) November 23, 2021
The less said about the football, the better. It was a very, very poor night. Nowhere near good enough from the players on the pitch or the staff in the dugout.
The worst bit is that United weren’t even that good, they didn’t need to be to beat us. They probably couldn’t believe how easy we made it.
Our inconsistency will kill us if we don’t sort it out soon. Especially with us now only just hovering above the drop zone.
Lastly, and most importantly, really great news to hear John Fleck is out of hospital and back home. Hopefully he can make a full recovery.