Ah, the highs and lows of football, how I’ve missed you. After the win on Saturday against Preston, the fans were in high spirits and somewhat positive about what was to come. However, in classic Reading Football Club style, the majority of that positivity was completely wiped out in the space of 90 minutes on Tuesday night.
That positivity was replaced with frustration and anger - some, in my opinion, justified, some not so much. However, what I think we can all agree on is that we can’t be that easy to score against, we just can’t.
From my seat in Club 1871 it was hard to see just how much space Weimann and Martin got for Bristol City’s first two goals - but having watched the highlights, my God, the players may as well have got deckchairs out and started reading a book. It was embarrassing.
From then on, as Morrison said in his post-match media duties, it was an uphill battle - and a battle that, despite flirting with fighting back twice, ended up being too tough to conquer. For that the players can only blame themselves.
Here's how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points...
This is probably the big one - and the most obvious talking point to come from the 90 minutes. Those first two goals were just unacceptable. We are a far cry from the defensive unit we saw at this stage last season.
We have looked vulnerable from set pieces in every game so far this season, and it needs to be sorted ASAP. In this league in particular, you can’t be easy to score against at set pieces, or else you’re going to concede bucket loads.
I think it’s fair to say that the fans are, in general, happy with our attacking output so far this season. But it’s clear to see that that is definitely not the case when it comes to our performances defensively, as the Bristol City game proved again...
Defensively we’ve been… actually, was there any defending done? #readingfc— Trenchy (@AdamHumphries96) August 17, 2021
We weren’t outplayed today just poor defending! If we could stop conceding from set pieces we’d get loads more points! So frustrating! We never learn #readingfc— BerkshireBoys (@BerkshireBoys_) August 17, 2021
Cannot believe the defending I witnessed tonight, bring back O’Shea #readingfc— Kieran Ruffle (@KieranRuffle) August 17, 2021
The most annoying thing is this has happened in every game so far this season. Even when we beat Preston we still looked shaky from set pieces. Defending from corners and free kicks was bad enough under Paul Clement. I can't be dealing with that frustration again #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) August 17, 2021
God, that was awful. The defending this season is abysmal & we are so weak on that left side; I think I’d rather Bristow getting his run at LB over playing TMc for the sake of it #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) August 17, 2021
Don't let Moore's goal distract you from the fact that he was terrible, again. No leadership and truly terrible defending. Morrison and McIntyre not much better either. Only positives for me was Azeez scoring again and TDB. Clarke looks a handful as well #ReadingFC— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) August 18, 2021
Having watched the highlights back the defending looks even worse, there are some experienced players in this team who need to have a long hard look at themselves for the roles in each goal, painful to watch, all 3 preventable #readingfc— 106 Chat (@106Chat) August 18, 2021
Lucas Joao injury
This may be cheating as it wasn't technically within the 90 minutes, but, for me, it’s the worst thing to come from Tuesday night. Poor defending can (hopefully) be fixed on the training ground and on the pitch, losing your talisman cannot.
Joao being out until January is disastrous if we don’t bring in a replacement - especially when you combine that with Meite’s long-term injury too. That’s half of our goals from last season gone. Which is very, very worrying.
It’s clear to see too that I’m not the only one in this camp too, as the fans reacted with shock after hearing the news...
Need to sign a striker immediately. This is awful news, hope Joao has a good and speedy recovery— Luke (@Luke1871_) August 17, 2021
Losing Joao and— Stevie p (@stevie_p1871) August 17, 2021
Meite until the new year is an absolute hammer blow!! We’re in a dog fight for survival already #readingfc
Losing Joao is massive. We are in big trouble with no Joao or Yaks.— Tommo (@Rfctomo) August 17, 2021
Does anyone know how many games #readingfc won without Joao last season. Can't have been many.— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) August 17, 2021
Reading look so poor in attack without him, cannot rely on him to make the system work.
We need to find ways of winning games without him
Joao being out is an absolute killer. If we can’t sign a striker then we really are up against it.. #readingfc— Alex Stone (@alexgstone) August 17, 2021
Meite and joao out until January. Miracles required #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) August 17, 2021
João out until January, that is a huge blow. We're not the same team without his presence up top, even if he's not at his best. It's a worry for me if we can't bring in some kind of other option rather than Pușcaș #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) August 17, 2021
I always like to be a bit balanced in these Fans Verdicts - where that is possible. And the performance of debutant Tom Dele-Bashiru on Tuesday has allowed me to do that. He was a glimmer of hope in what was otherwise a very disappointing evening.
He played off the left hand side after replacing Bristow at half time and looked a real handful. He had a nice touch, got at the Bristol defence and, in general, showed signs that he could be a really good player for us this year. Don’t be surprised to see him in the starting eleven on Saturday.
Here’s what the fans had to say about TDB’s promising cameo...
Tom Dele Bisharu looked promising when he came on! Why not start him next game! Looked lively #readingfc— BerkshireBoys (@BerkshireBoys_) August 17, 2021
If Clarke and dele don't start Saturday I'm throwing hands #readingfc— pauno szn (@paunoball) August 17, 2021
My three points from today…— Ed Ryding (@EdRyding) August 17, 2021
1) Azeez is a real talent. Did more running than Joao & Puscas would combined.
2) Dele looks a class above. Players very quickly realised he can make us tick and gave it to him whenever possible.
3) Pauno can’t coach. Facts. #readingfc
Tom Holmes and Tom Dele-Bashiru HAVE to start next game #readingfc— Jack (@Jack_rfc6) August 17, 2021
A disappointing evening all in all. But not one that should result in mass panic in my opinion. We’re still only three games into a 46-match season, so there is still a lot of time to go and a lot of time to fix things, although the defending needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.
Like I said previous, the worst bit of Tuesday night was hearing Joao is out until January - we need to get someone in. It’s as simple as that. If we don’t, it could be a tough, tough season.