Well, that’s that then. The fat lady has sung. Our season is officially over (in terms of it being played in a competitive nature anyway). However, we didn’t miss out on the top-six because of the 2-2 draw to Swansea.
We missed out on the play-offs because of losses to Birmingham City and Wycombe Wanderers, to Millwall and Middlesborough, and by missing glaring chances against Barnsley, Watford, Nottingham Forest and Preston North End. I could go on, but you get the gist.
Even the most optimistic of Loyal Royals would probably admit our season was over well before the end of play on Sunday afternoon. The fact of the matter is that we just haven’t been good enough in recent months to warrant a top-six spot. We’ve petered and whimpered while our rivals have grown stronger and stronger.
It’s a bit of a doom and gloom Fans’ Verdict this time I’m afraid. Maybe it’s karma coming round to bite me after the unusually optimistic editions I got to write earlier on in the season; this football club can’t let you have an entire season of positivity, can it?
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: the players, staff and fans should look back at this season as progress. But that doesn’t mean that frustration and anger isn’t being felt by the Reading faithful, as you can tell by these tweets...
Let’s address the elephant in the room first shall we. The big talking point is that we can no longer finish in the top six, and another season in the Championship beckons.
As I said earlier, there are many more important reasons than Sunday’s result which means we’ve missed out on the play-offs, but I guess it’s never over until it’s mathematically impossible - which it is now.
Three months ago, the top six, maybe even in the top two, was sitting pleasantly in the palm of our hands - but it seems like the pressure has got to us in recent weeks and results have taken a huge downwards spirals - as has the mood of the fanbase.
Here’s how they reacted to finally being put out of their misery on Sunday...
Well, season officially over but let’s be honest and admit it already was. At least we got something from the game as played well & deserved it, subs cost us tbh but I’m going to try & remain relatively positive as expectations were low today #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) April 25, 2021
The way the team has capitulated over the last 3 months is embarrassing take the first 10 games out of the equation and we are in another relegation fight #readingfc— Gavin Smith (@gavpsmith) April 25, 2021
Things that make you sick to see! (Part 44/46)#ReadingFC— Jon Gould (@JonG0uld) April 25, 2021
That’s it. Season officially over. Coming up short in a must win game again. Overall just not good enough. The only run we went on was at the start of the season and just been clinging on ever since. #TheReadingWay pic.twitter.com/8CbCM352fT
Incredible start to the season, however lack of quality in squad depth has cost us. Absolutely gutting to spend most of our season in the top 6 and fall out right towards the end. We didn’t want to get promoted without being allowed into The Mad Stad anyway right!?! #readingfc— Steven Hansell (@steveyroyal) April 25, 2021
22 points from first 24. And with still two weeks of games left we can’t even get into the top 6. Regardless of the higher finish this season, there is something wrong with the players that has been there for countless seasons now. Pathetic. #readingfc— Alex Lane-Kieltyka (@alex_elkay21) April 25, 2021
Hugely disappointing end to the season. Sure we’ve improved on the last few years, but after being in the top 6 for most of the season the loss of form has been crushing to witness. Can’t help thinking of Birmingham & Wycombe away and that miss v Barnsley. #readingfc— Jonathan Richards (@JR_1871) April 25, 2021
Paunovic deserves his fair share of criticism. Heck, I gave it to him full barrels in my match report after the game on Sunday after witnessing the substitutions he made.
But surely, even the most pessimistic, angry of Reading fans can’t argue with the job he’s done (on VERY limited resources) this season? He was thrown into a league he’s never managed in before, two weeks before the start of the season, with a squad he was still learning the names of going into the first game against Derby County, and has managed to guide us to a healthy top-half position.
Yes it could’ve been a lot better, it should’ve been a lot better. But Pauno has done a good job.
There was a mixed reaction on Twitter after the game - some slating the Serbian, but others showing their support...
Don’t get the Pauno complaints... done an amazing job considering when he arrive and what he inherited. Add in the injuries, schedule and squad depth and I think we’ll only keep improving #readingfc— Luke Tizzard (@luke_tizzard) April 25, 2021
I really like Pauno, comes across as a good coach, says all the right things, but when it comes down it he can't manage the game and his subs are often terrible, they definitely cost us today. Not the right man for me, but we can't keep changing managers, can we? ♂️ #ReadingFC— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) April 25, 2021
People saying pauno isn’t the right manager, lads we finished 14th last season and have been in a relegation scrap for a few years. Let’s give a manager more then one year #readingfc— Max (@maxforster10) April 25, 2021
We may not be one of the most vocal fan bases, however we have gotten rid of managers before by simply not turning up. Both Stam & Clement were sacked when attendances dropped significantly.— Ed Ryding (@EdRyding) April 25, 2021
With this football, we will see the same. Pauno is living on borrowed time. #readingfc
Pauno's subs continue to hurt us, Semedo for Meite at 1-0? Really?— ReeceRFC (@Reece_RFC) April 25, 2021
And then another defensive change in Yiadom for Esteves, granted he got a goal, but on paper those are some poor subs...#ReadingFC
Pauno, for me, isn’t under any pressure at all. However there has to be a big, in depth review as to what went wrong #readingfc— Jack Roberts (@jackaroberts95) April 25, 2021
Can’t believe I’m seeing Pauno out when:— Jonny (@JMP1871) April 25, 2021
-He’s inherited a squad with terrible depth
-He hasn’t had a chance to make his own signings
-Key players have been out all season
-Our strikers have flopped when it matters
and still we’ve had our best season in years...#readingfc
There's definitely been faults of Pauno this season but to sack him after finishing 7th would be stupid. We constantly go through the cyle of new managers so let's atleast back him in the summer and see what he can do. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) April 25, 2021
Although there are still games to be played, as soon as that final whistle went on Sunday, I think it’s fair to say a lot of Reading fans’ eyes turned to this summer and next season.
I’m not going to lie - personally, I am very worried. I would be so much more comfortable with finishing seventh if I was sure that the club was in a position to build on it and give it a real good go next year, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
A huge rebuild is coming up this summer and it’s going to be very eventful to say the least. On Twitter after the game, the fans had their say. Some are optimistic, some not so much...
this is gonna be a crazy summer, i expect A LOT of outgoings #readingfc— ً (@_jord19x) April 25, 2021
Have we had a good season overall?— Nath St Paul (@NathStPaul) April 25, 2021
Have we completely bottled it when it counted?
Now the attention has to turn to the players we will be losing in the summer. There are a few who just need to move on now, best for both parties. #readingfc
I really hope we’re smart over the summer with our recruitment. I don’t want anymore of us signing “big” name players because they have an influential agent. Follow the Laurent & Morrison blueprint #readingfc— Jack (@jackmoore1402) April 25, 2021
Right, now we know we're definitely in this division the club should start work immediately on getting things in place for the summer. Make sure we sort out the EFL and finances urgently so we know what business can be done, then start looking at who could come in. #ReadingFC— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) April 25, 2021
Not expecting much next season, FFP penalties incoming. No money to spend on players and key players like Olise leaving in the summer.— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) April 25, 2021
Expecting a relegation battle next season #readingfc
Our main priority this summer no matter what is to get Tmac, rinomhota, swift ,holmes and laurent on new contracts. Sell olise and maybe joao and moore. #readingfc— Daniel Whiteside (@Dan_Whiteside_6) April 25, 2021
Okay so I’ve had my time to be depressed and now it’s time for preparation for next season. An exciting summer ahead. I feel we can attract some top players now, have a full pre season with Pauno and a fresh start to get promotion. URZZ #ReadingFC— PaunoSZN (@PaunoSzn) April 25, 2021
So the fat lady has sung on Reading’s season as a competitive entity. But, in all honesty, she’d been doing her vocal warm-ups for a good few weeks already.
We weren’t good enough when it mattered and deserve to finish where we are going to finish. There can be no complaints about that.
Now, I'm off to hibernate for the entire summer because I can’t bear to go through what I think we might have to go through in pre season. It’s going to be a whirlwind.