What. A. Win. After the disappointment of Tuesday night, we needed to see a response. In midweek, there was little in the way of identity or a clear game plan from either Pauno or the players. We saw the complete reverse of that against Swansea City.
Pauno gets a lot of stick for supposedly not having an identity tactically. I beg to differ. He’s pragmatic manager who sets up his team in a structured way, and relies on moments from his attacking talent to win games of football. We got a vintage Pauno performance on Saturday.
Vintage not just in terms of tactics, but also in the fight and guts shown from the players. Another performance that gave an assertive answer to questions over whether or not Pauno has lost the dressing room.
A fantastic win of course, but one that also needs to be built on into consistency. That didn’t stop the fans enjoying the result after the game however. Here are the talking points...
Andy Carroll grabbed his first league start for the club, and boy did he make an impression with it. His all-round performance was really good, but it was of course his goal - Reading’s second - that stood out.
The first touch (wow), the run, the finish and the celebration. It was just, well, *chef’s kiss*.
In his substitute appearances so far, we’ve seen glimpses of what he can do. On Saturday though we saw a player who, if kept fit and firing, could turn out to be a big player for us.
The fans certainly loved his performance...
Never would I see the day when Andy Carroll scores for #readingfc amazing— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) November 27, 2021
That Carroll goal is exactly what we’ve been missing without João. Counter over the top to a skilled big man who can hold off defenders and finish. Beautiful #ReadingFC— Scott (@American_Royals) November 27, 2021
What a revelation Southwood has been. An opportunity that opened itself in the strangest of circumstances has been grabbed with both hands by the academy graduate.
He has been so, so good, and has surely cemented himself as Reading’s number one for the foreseeable future. Again on Saturday he was superb. He produced some wonderful stops to keep us in the game, something we’ve become accustomed to from him.
Think its fair to say that the fans absolutely adore him...
Southwood has to be a contender for man of the match #ReadingFC— Erik O (@Orrgarde) November 27, 2021
I’m a broken record on this but whatever else we remember about this anniversary season, the number one story of 2021/22 will be the emergence of Luke Southwood. Absolutely class #readingfc https://t.co/OlJ4EUCdcs— @SelectCarLeasing-fon (@shakefon) November 28, 2021
Huge result. Carroll off the mark. Huge performance from the whole midfield, at both ends of the pitch. Luke Southwood proving why he’s now an international keeper. UP THE DING #readingfc https://t.co/npxEoeEiz3— Ed Ryding (@EdRyding) November 27, 2021
Also, let’s appreciate how good Southwood has been this season. Very very mature in his debut season as number one. Little bit indecisive on crosses, but that’s being critical. Seems a big character, has played a huge role in some big wins.#readingfc— Sam Hudspith (@samhudspith24) November 27, 2021
Southwood was absolutely top class today as well. Some of the saves he made today were absolutely amazing. Reminded of me of prime Federici #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) November 27, 2021
Fight and determination
If you want to know whether or not Paunovic has lost the dressing room or not, have a look at the celebrations after the game and the shift that the players put in during the 90 minutes.
The apparent story behind Carroll’s celebration is also another example of the spirit in the dressing room - however much it may remind you of a scene from The Office.
The fight on the pitch is what won us all three points. The ability to bounce back so quickly after conceding, not once but twice, is a testament to the players.
The fans loved it...
Great to see a Reading team with real fight in them. Fantastic result. #readingfc— Stevie p (@stevie_p1871) November 27, 2021
What a brilliant and unexpected result.— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) November 27, 2021
The players more than proved themselves out there today. Bodies on the line, heads didn't go down despite Swansea equalising so early in the second half. Finally got a win over Swansea #readingfc
Great away win this afternoon in Wales, showed great spirit to come back after conceding both goals as quickly as we did. Need to build on this now. Good choice of first XI and used subs better. Hopefully a turning point in the season! Well done lads @ReadingFC #readingfc #urzz— James (@B3rt1e) November 27, 2021
Big big win that one this afternoon! Had to really dig in and fight for it but well deserved and such an important to result to bounce back quickly after Tuesday! #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) November 27, 2021
A big, big win. But one, as ever, that only means anything if we back it up next weekend. We need consistency now if we’re going to work ourselves out of the difficult position we see ourselves in.
But if Saturday is anything to go by, with players on their way back from injury too, there are definitely ingredients there to make the best out of this season.