Earlier on in the season, I loved writing the Fans’ Verdicts. The outpouring of love from Reading supporters across Twitter was incredible. Having started doing this feature at the beginning of the 2018/2019 season, you can imagine that reading through positive tweets from happy Royals has been a nice change for me.
However, I’ve also seen first-hand the 180 flip that’s happened, pretty much ever since we walked all over Bournemouth at the end of January. And now, I’m expecting the tweets to be as down and subdued as they have been all season for this edition - and I’m not placing any blame on the fans for that.
It’s been a really bad past few weeks. Since that win over the Cherries, we’ve only won five out of 17 matches, which means we’re now going to miss out on the play-offs, and deservedly so.
I just want more for this team because they are so much better than what we’ve seen over recent months. We’ve seen that firsthand in the first half of the season. But when they’ve needed to step up, the be all and end all is that they haven’t - and our rivals have.
The fans were not happy after the Luton game on Wednesday evening, and who can blame them?
Sim’s match report from Wednesday evening was entitled ‘With A Whimper’ - and I honestly couldn’t think of a more apt title - as I'm sure the rest of the fanbase feel too.
That’s been the worst bit. We just haven’t looked up for it recently. Compare ourselves to Barnsley who scrap for everything and run you ragged - which I know is pretty much their style of play, and ours is much different - it’s like chalk and cheese.
We have a lot of flair players in this team, and when things don’t go the way of flair players, they tend to sulk - and unfortunately, the game against Luton summed that up perfectly. It’s so disappointing, and the fans didn’t hold back after the game...
No passion no Energy Desire Work rate. So appalling. Player's don't want it enough. To think we could go 1 point behind barnsley youd show much more effort. Pauno must be fuming #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) April 21, 2021
There lies the problem, we and the players knew what was required tonight. Passion, desire, they delivered none of that #readingfc— Wade (@WadeWarren4) April 21, 2021
Absolutely pathetic... nothing more to say than that. No desire or passion from the players in the last couple of games #readingfc— Samuel Griffin (@_Samrfc) April 21, 2021
We’ve been in the top 6 for 40 games out of a 46 game season. When we drop out the least us fans expect is a bit of fight, a bit of urgency and a bit of desire to get the wins needed to be back where we deserve to be. It’s beyond me how we haven’t seen that recently. #ReadingFC— PaunoSZN (@PaunoSzn) April 21, 2021
Look at the difference between us and Barnsley. Imo we have the better squad but our players look lazy now (not all rino and holmes been class recently) but Barnsley leave nothing out there and fight for every ball. That’s the reason we miss playoffs #readingfc #barnsleyfc— Nathan Adams (@Nathan_adamsss) April 22, 2021
That’s it for this season folks. This team is hard work. No desire, no fight, no bottle. Another long and difficult season in the Championship beckons with a presumably shoestring squad. #ReadingFC— joely (@dingjoely) April 21, 2021
Embarrassing performance. No fight. No urgency. Shocking. Bring on the bottom half finish next season. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) April 21, 2021
We dint even give ourself a chance to fight for the top 6 absolute Bottled it. how have we lost a 19 point lead on 6th to being 6 points behind just pathetic #readingfc beaten by Barnsley as well is embarrassing but fair play to them that hurts dint think it would come to this— Rob Cooper (@RobertC89059161) April 21, 2021
No passion, no fight, none of them care. Disgusting performance. #readingfc— stuart edmonds (@ednoni) April 21, 2021
Imagine if I told you after the eighth game of the season that, by the 43rd match of the campaign, there would be some fans calling for Pauno’s head. Crazy, right?
Pauno deserves criticism, he’s not immune from it. His substitutions are questionable (to say the least) most of the time, and recently I understand that his post-match interviews have become a bit tedious as our form’s dipped.
However, it’s his first season in charge - and nothing is ever, ever fixed by sacking your manager after one full season. We, more than anyone, should know that. Paunovic deserves time, but like I said is not immune from criticism.
There was a mixed reaction towards the gaffer on Wednesday night...
i'm sick and tired of seeing after every time we drop points fans blaming certain players after one bad game or calling for pauno's head. yes we have almost certainly missed out on playoffs, but at the start of the season we'd of taken 7th. stop being so negative!! #readingfc— Joe (@RFCJoe_) April 22, 2021
Pauno has his faults but we have to keep him this summer. We’ll never be successful if we change manager every summer. Give him time to build and he’ll be successful here. The end of the season has been poor but he’s still exceeded expectations this season. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) April 22, 2021
Now the season is done.. and I’ve calmed down a bit..Im still fully behind Pauno. There’s a lot of questions that need answering but for the squad he inherited.. he’s done better than the previous managers.— Jamie Hodder (@Jamie_Hodder21) April 22, 2021
Would he have done better last season with that huge squad? #ReadingFC
Let’s not mess about, Pauno has under-achieved with this squad #readingfc— alex (@alexxmitchy) April 21, 2021
I like Pauno, but wouldn't be shocked if he went this summer if we continue this way in the last 3 games. Not sure I'd be that bothered either. #ReadingFC— Matheus (@MaffRoyal) April 21, 2021
I see #readingfc fans are calling for Pauno to be sacked, again. I don't know about anyone else, but I think your odds of building a successful go down if you change managers every year but that's just me ♂️ I mean have you all just forgotten the last 7ish years?— Sean Mobsby (@SeanMobsby) April 21, 2021
I'm sorry but this is so wrong— Joel (@jcrfc1871) April 21, 2021
We weren't the better team, and they didn't give everything.
I can't stand behind those comments. If Pauno thinks that is acceptable we have no chance #readingfc https://t.co/IXdvtyazhp
Top six gone
Paunovic and Laurent can say they’re not giving up as much as they like - the top-six dream is gone. A six-point gap with three games to go is far too big, and with Barnsley in completely polar-opposite form to us, it’s the end of the road for our play-off hopes, once and for all.
I said after the Cardiff City game that the fans (hopefully) will be able to look back at this season as a good one when the dust has settled - depending on what happens this summer of course. However, it’s still been torturous watching this team fall from grace so horrifically.
The fans were frustrated, gutted and angry after the Luton game - and rightly so. We’ve been let down by the team in recent weeks...
That’s then then. It’s been one hell of a season but to just miss out on the play-offs is a kick in the balls. Time to start preparing for next season’s push!#ReadingFC— Robin Hinton (@Ro6inHinton) April 21, 2021
The business end of the season when it's mattered the most we've haven't turned up. Fully deserved to drop out the playoffs based on the last couple of months #readingfc— Hoops (@Hoops_1871) April 21, 2021
Best of luck to @BarnsleyFC in the playoffs, I hope you go up as you deserve it. As for us, we've had a great season and shouldn't be too down on ourselves as its been a fun ride while it lasted! We'll be back, urzzzz! @ReadingFC @TheTilehurstEnd #readingfc https://t.co/g0xrvWUYtJ— Fenners (@fenners100) April 21, 2021
Architects of our own downfall this season. Deservedly finishing outside the top 6, would not have had the capacity to compete with those sides regardless - which would have only led to belated heartbreak in May. Let’s stick with Paunovic & see what 2021/22 brings #readingfc— Ewan Sparrow (@ewan_sparrow) April 21, 2021
I'm sorry but Cardiff at home and Luton away knowing we HAVE to win both games and we haven't won either is pathetic, not good enough. Don't deserve top 6, we are a bang average side. #readingfc— Tom (@TomMoore0506) April 21, 2021
The big picture is that we've massively improved on recent seasons BUT the last quarter or so of the season has been such a big drop off in level. After spending so long in the top 6 it's a huge disappointment to now fail to make the play-offs #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) April 21, 2021
Have the players just given up or something? What a pile of dross this is... wouldn't have thought survival was possible let alone top 6 #readingfc— Max Howard (@MaxHoward_15) April 21, 2021
What a hugely disappointing end to the season after such a promising start. Simply put we’ve not been good enough to make the Top 6. We can talk about injuries, but regardless, this squad should have had enough about it to consolidate that playoff spot. #ReadingFC— Mat (@MatDevon) April 21, 2021
I was speechless after the game on Wednesday evening, I couldn’t believe what I’d watched - we didn't look hungry, we didn’t want to fight and we got punished for it. We got exactly what we deserved, and we could’ve had no complaints if we’d lost the game.
However, we have to look at this season as progression - going from what we’ve had in the last two/three years to what we have now is progression, that’s a fact. What I'm not so sure about though is our ability to build on it. Summers are never straightforward at this football club, and this one will be no different - so buckle in.