When you combine everything from Tuesday night - Pauno’s positive Covid test, two more absentees, the result and the news about the points deduction - I think it's fair to say it was one of the worst 24 hours in recent times for Reading. And that’s saying something.
It’s already been said countless times, but everything that can go wrong is going wrong right now. I hate cliches as much as the next person, but a lot of them apply in our current scenario. It’s about sticking together and battling through this tricky patch. We need to have faith that it will come good.
And even with the points deduction, there’s a big chance it will come back. Once we start getting players back from injury, things should start getting better. No team in the country would be able to perform to the maximum with 10+ first-team players in the treatment room.
In regards to the Millwall game in particular, there were a few key talking points to come. Some took place on the pitch, some off it. Here’s what the fans had to say...
The absence of Danny Drinkwater and Andy Yiadom, the latter in particular, meant that young Tyrell Ashcroft was handed his professional debut. And he was a rare shining light in what was otherwise a bleak evening for the club.
He didn’t steal the show, and it was by no means a 10/10 performance, but he showed signs that he’s ready for the Championship and maybe planted a seed in Pauno’s head that perhaps he can trust some of the younger players.
He looked comfortable enough, albeit with a few evident nerves (but who can blame him for that?) and all in all, the fans were impressed...
Highlight of the night was a few pints of Timmy Taylor's Landlord in The George at London Bridge.... and Ashcroft and Camara. #readingfc— ajb1871 (@RDG1871) November 3, 2021
Why do we never use our bench earlier. Ashcroft was great today and he’s been sat on the bench all year, and Camara wasn’t bad at all when he came on but only got 10 mins to make an impact. With the 9 point deduction I honestly can’t see is staying up. #readingfc— Joel (@Jdh72Joel) November 2, 2021
VFTD half time nuggets:— Ben Thomas (@mrblthomas) November 2, 2021
1. Ashcroft = baller.
2. I’m sure the commentator is a good egg who gives a handsome portion of his salary to animal charities, but the way he says our player’s names is an actual crime.
3. Away end sounds tonight.@TheTilehurstEnd #readingfc
Minus a goal and a nightmare opening 10 where we looked ready for a beating we’ve been very good. Ashcroft doing really well after a nervy start. Use the subs wisely if we need to #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) November 2, 2021
Ashcroft's delivery is fantastic. Would happily see him out wide. Exposed at times defensively, but a lot to like. Could provide some much needed width off bench that we've been desperate for the last few weeks. #readingfc— Anthony Kendrick (@AJKendrick) November 2, 2021
Puscas, Ashcroft, Swift and Baba keep it up . Laurent needs a rest but please can be complete a pass #readingfc— BigJay (@BiggunRFC) November 2, 2021
Decent first half, showed nothing in the second. Puscas better, Ashcroft promising. Not much else. #readingfc— Melvir (@Melvir88) November 2, 2021
Lack of options
Let’s be honest, Pauno has his hands tied behind his back right now doesn’t he. We have to rely on scoring first and getting ahead, because if we go behind we lack any options off the bench to change things.
I know there’s an argument that even so, Pauno should be using the younger players more and I get that. But remember, that’s exactly what they are, young players. Bringing them into the first team too early can have serious side effects. And they may not be ready anyway - Pauno is the one that sees them in training every day.
The fans are starting to get really frustrated, but the worst thing is no one can do anything about it...
Feel so sorry for Paunovic, what can you do when you have 12/13 first teams players out injured? #readingfc— Theo Bird (@TheonlyBird) November 2, 2021
First half wasn’t bad but tiredness cost us again in the second. We need the international break to refresh and get players back ASAP because you can’t expect 10 first team players to play 2 games a week like we are at the atm. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) November 2, 2021
You’ve got to feel for Pauno and the players. Playing week in week out with no replacements available no wonder we are on a losing streak blokes must be shattered #readingfc— callum (@callum_abraham) November 3, 2021
Any club that has 12 first team players unavailable is going to really struggle, it's not a an excuse it's just the truth of the matter. Trying to find 50 other reasons we aren't playing well is a pointless exercise at this time. #readingfc— Sam Richards (@SammyRich89) November 3, 2021
The hard thing is that as soon as we start to get a foothold we tire, we then have next to no options to change things. If we have a fully fit squad 3 of the last 4 results are different… #readingfc— Elliott (@u_elliott_) November 2, 2021
Absolute onslaught from Millwall second half, we simply can’t compete with 0 senior options from the bench..— Alex Stone (@alexgstone) November 2, 2021
We need to ride this part of the season out.. Massively missing Hoilett and Halilovic atm. #readingfc
As expected tonight. Confidence as well as the players are now shot to bits. Only getting the likes of Halilovic and Hoilett can turn this around (at minimum). The lack of viable attacking options is really hurting us. #readingfc— BobbinsRoyale (@BobbinsRoyale) November 2, 2021
Looming points deduction
This was arguably the biggest talking point to come from Tuesday night, and it happened a long way away from where the football match was taking place.
News surfaced midway through the second half that Reading are now prepared to accept a nine-point deduction, with three more suspended. We all knew it was coming at some point, but this timing is horrendous.
It makes a dark situation even darker, and the players, Pauno and the fans are going to have to find something deep within us to help all of us through this period.
The fans showed their worry at what this deduction could cause on Twitter after the game...
Ouch that point deduction is not kind! Bad day for us! #readingfc— Royals Stu (@RoyalStu1871) November 2, 2021
1 nil defeat, 9 point deduction, top night all round. #readingfc— Rob Molloy (@Dobchecks) November 2, 2021
This is such a typical Tuesday night for Reading. Dead performance, 9 point deduction borderline confirmed. Goodness me. #readingfc— Micah (@1871M1C4H) November 2, 2021
Looking like a 9 point deduction incoming as well, if we don't get more players available soon and the deduction is applied we'll be deep in the relegation myre and chasing points to stay up on the back end of the season, every worrying #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) November 2, 2021
Take the deduction tomorrow, and then just focus on the job in hand, the longer it hangs over us, the worse it gets. #readingfc— Ian Frampton (@iframpton) November 2, 2021
Run out of steam. With the deduction coming and us playing like we are we are doomed. #readingfc— smudger (@smujjii87) November 2, 2021
If we get the points deduction we are 100% in a relegation battle, it puts us one point clear of 22nd, we have a threadbare squad and we don't know what form long term injured players will return in, anyone thinking otherwise is deluded#readingfc— 106 Chat (@106Chat) November 3, 2021
Like I said earlier, cliches aren’t what everyone wants to hear right now, but they do apply here. The way out of this situation isn’t for fans to turn on the club and the players. We all need to stick together and we’ll get through the other side.
We need to stick with Pauno and just pray that some players start getting back sooner rather than later. Personally, I just want the points deduction now, get it over and done with and we can move on. But we all know that the EFL don’t like doing things the easy way.
It’s going to be a tough few weeks and months. But keep the faith.