I think as soon as the starting XI was released at 7pm on Tuesday evening, most Reading fans braced themselves for a pretty rough 90 minutes. And that’s exactly what happened.
Going into the game I was intrigued as to whether Pauno would risk some of his big players or not, but it was no real surprise when he didn’t. The risk of losing a Swift, a Laurent or a Moore was nowhere near worth taking for a first-round Carabao Cup game.
That meant a heavy burden fell onto the shoulders of the youngsters, most of whom were making their first appearance in a first-team matchday squad. And although the effort of the players couldn't be faltered, the end result was inevitable and the visitors ran out more than comfortable winners.
It would’ve been a beneficial experience for plenty of that squad, who, like I said, were experiencing professional football for the very first time. However, it was another game that underlined the dire need for reinforcements.
Here’s what the fans had to say after witnessing a tough evening of football at the Mad Sta.. sorry, the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
I did fear the worst when I saw the team sheet had been released, and as soon as I saw it, I knew that anything other than a loss would be a good result for the team. It was one hell of a baptism of fire for most of those academy players, however, they do say, you either win or you learn - and this will be a big learning curve.
The experience will end up being a good one. It’s important for any young player to find their level and test themselves, and you cannot fault anyone’s effort or determination. They all clearly wanted to make an impression, but in the end the huge gulf in quality was the difference.
The fans were pretty upbeat about the youngsters though, appreciating their effort and acknowledging it will be a good experience in the long term for all involved...
Can’t even complain tonight. Was men against boys. Pleased for the youngsters that got there chance. It’s clear what needs to happen at the club and that’s bringing players in to strengthen. Up the ding ⚽️ #readingfc— BigGRoyal (@DingBigG) August 10, 2021
Despite the result last night, I thought the #readingfc youngsters looked decent! If able to afford fielding some older heads, could have been very different. Size alone, Ehibhatiomhan could offer something to match days with more mins IMO. Osario and Sackey were keen too!— Blue & White Jester (@bw_jester_rfc) August 11, 2021
Thought the youngsters did alright to be fair but just lacked that final ball and composure at times. Anyway onto Saturday where we need 3 points! #readingfc— BerkshireBoys (@BerkshireBoys_) August 10, 2021
Given the teams, that was fine. Youngsters not defending corners isn't end of the world. Southwood a bit dodgy with his feet but made some impressive saves. Leavy, Abbey, Osorio, Tetek good. Think that's as good as we could have hoped for - especially given going to 10 #readingfc— Matthew Williamson (@Photomattic) August 10, 2021
stop moaning about the performance. We can't play our ONLY 11 because they are still recovering and are likely to get injured today. The kids are playing their 1st game mostly. Give the team a break. This competition is just match experience for the youngsters #readingfc— Ranty McRantface (@RantyMkRantface) August 10, 2021
Obviously not the result any of us want. But that will have been a good experience to play against an opposition that controls the game the way Swansea do.— Sean Mobsby (@SeanMobsby) August 10, 2021
Proud of the young lads, regardless of the scoreline. On to the next one ⚪#readingfc
No need to go easy. They played very well against a much more experienced side. Not the result we wanted but those that learn from that experience and take strength from it will have a great future #readingfc— Phil C Green (@philcgreen) August 10, 2021
Those young men should be very proud tonight. You learn more from a loss than a victory. They acquitted themselves very well against a vastly more experienced unit. Nobody disgraced themselves. The experience will have dinner them the world of good #readingfc— BobbinsRoyale (@BobbinsRoyale) August 10, 2021
I think it’s fair to say that Puski has split opinion ever since he stepped through the door in the summer of 2019. He is obviously still very raw, and of course he still has a huge amount to learn and develop within his game - but I for one still believe there is a very good striker in there waiting to be unleashed.
He has come under some stick in recent days due to his performance against Stoke and now his showing on Tuesday evening against Swansea - some stick deserved, some not so deserved in my opinion. I don't think it’s right to judge him on how he played in a team with a vast amount of inexperienced youngsters.
There was mixed reactions towards George on Twitter after the game, some backing him, some not so much...
Bit weird Puscas is coming in for so much stick. There’s a reason he’s back up striker, played alongside the kids and not ahead of Joao right now. It’s up to him to change that.— Pedro‼️ (@PictonPedro) August 11, 2021
No point in just moaning he isn’t performing, he won’t start more games unless he does #ReadingFC
No disrespect to the young lads who played admirably last night, but for those coming for Puscas, read this— Sam Hudspith (@samhudspith24) August 11, 2021
He can’t run a one man show against a full Championship team. Let’s remember that until Joao exploded on the scene last season, he was our best striker. #readingfc https://t.co/Lk5Y3C6Pk8
Youth haven’t even played bad. George Puscas, is seriously building up a reputation to be the worst £7m we’ve spent since Aluko. Awful.#readingfc— Micah (@1871M1C4H) August 10, 2021
Gonna be a long tough season based on this. Say what you like about the kids, Puscas has been our worst player by miles. Just awful #readingfc— Jordan Norris (@Jordan_Grittt) August 10, 2021
Fair play to them young lads tonight. Other than the goal against Cardiff has Puscas ever had a decent game in a reading shirt? He was awful tonight and spent all his time laughing and joking with the Swansea centre half. #readingfc— smudger (@smujjii87) August 10, 2021
Tough situation with Puscas. Yes, he looks ineffective as a lone striker. However, he’s only had a handful of games in a two up-front (before Joao got injured) and he was brilliant then. Would love to see him given a go with Joao again soon #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) August 10, 2021
Personally I do still think puscas has potential to be a good striker at this level. We just need to play to his strengths by playing 2 up top where he's much more effective #readingfc— AidenRFC (@AidenRFC_) August 11, 2021
Need for reinforcements
I have a funny feeling that this is going to be a talking point among the fans after every game for a little while...
It’s clear what we need to do, and that is make some signings. Offers have been made to players if rumours are to be believed, but until the EFL give us that green light, it doesn’t look like we'll be bringing in any new faces in.
Tuesday night brought that need to strengthen to light once again, even if it was the Carabao Cup. It’s just not feasible for that eleven to be our only backups for the entire season. The fans are certainly getting more frustrated by the day as this saga continues to drag on...
Is Pauno playing politics putting out a team with only one senior pro and showing how dire the situation is at #readingfc in terms of depth. If we get hammered then one would ecpect that would be the case. On the other hand the kids could raise their game & Swansea just coast it.— Sir Dodger Royal (@SirDodgerRoyal) August 10, 2021
Fair play to the young lads, some had a decent game some not so much. Southwood not bad in goal. Puscas pretty useless. Onto Preston really need a positive result (and some signings) #readingfc— Naithan Singh Basra (@naithanxbasra) August 10, 2021
A summer of 0 signings and selling our two best players has left Reading fans moaning about the match day food and checking hygiene ratings. Please for the love of god announce someone. #readingfc— Joe Lodge (@JosephGLodge) August 11, 2021
On last night, I thought the youngsters did alright. Yes men v boys but they applied effort and tried. This is what it’s come to, no depth at all. Normally we’d not rely on so much inexperience but little choice right now #readingfc— Tricks (@richiec87) August 11, 2021
Last nights result isn’t what you wanted but it was expected. Squad depth isn’t good enough. If we bring in some signings I think we will have a good season but not as good as last season. I think bringing in Harris is a must, he looked class when he vs Reading. #readingfc ⚪️— Jacob Newman (@JacobN_789) August 11, 2021
A really good effort from all of the youngsters and a night that I hope a) they won’t forget and b) they’ll continue to learn from. However, it was an evening that brought to light once again the need for reinforcements.
I fear for our season if we don’t manage to bring anyone in. I really do. The statement from the club the other day is a start and it’s important to note that it mentioned they were making ‘positive progress’ and were confident that more than enough signings would be made before the end of August. Which is something to be positive about.
Surely the club wouldn’t say something like that if they had nothing to back it up? We’ll see I guess.
Anyways, keep the faith. URZ.