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Stoke City Fans Verdict: Curtain Raiser Ends In Defeat

For the first time in the 2021/22 season, Harry rounds up the best bits of the Loyal Royals’ reaction to Saturday’s game.

PA Images via Getty Images

A horrible and wet day in Stoke ending in a familiarly disappointing defeat? Ah, football’s definitely back isn’t it?

Despite the toxically turbulent summer we’ve had (again), it’s been hard not to get caught up in the romance of the return of proper football being back. I’d had plenty of day dreams leading up to Saturday, fantasising about a last-minute winner in front of a travelling contingent of fans, failing to realise that in reality, there was a chance we could lose - and that reality came true.

Yes, there are 45 games to go yet and the result of the first day of the season is rarely anything concrete to go by, but when you couple the result with the cloud of uncertainty hovering over our club at the moment (which seems to be getting darker and darker by the day) - yeah, this one stings a bit.

So on a personal level, I’ve come away from Saturday’s game with a huge bag of mixed emotions, and it looks like the majority of you - my fellow Reading fans - have done the same.

Football is back

I know it probably won’t be (well, I definitely know it isn’t), but the big story to come from this weekend, regardless of performance or result, should be that football is back. For good.

The last 18 or so months have been torturous. The vast majority of us pretty much live for Saturday afternoons, it’s what our weeks lead up to and it’s what we’re always looking forward to - and for far too long, for understandable reasons obviously, that has been stripped away from us.

I can say this from personal experience: it’s 90 minutes on a Saturday where nothing else, literally nothing else, matters - and we finally have it back. There’s a certain romance about football, particularly on weekends like the one just gone, and the fans were certainly feeling it (albeit up until about the 85th minute)...

Swift shines

Yes, we lost. Yes, we’re in the s*** with the EFL and no one knows what on earth is going on. But there were definitely positives to take from our performance on Saturday, the biggest being John Swift’s performance.

It’s as simple as this people - John Swift is our best player. And he showed on Saturday why it is vitally important that we wrap him up in the highest quality cotton wool whenever we can and we keep him fit and firing on all cylinders. He's a joy to watch.

He lit up the Bet365 stadium for 75 minutes he was on the pitch, and it’s no coincidence that our performance levels dropped when he came off. The fans certainly enjoyed his showing...

EFL uncertainty/the need for new signings

Now to the not so good bits to come from Saturday. As I mentioned before, there’s a big black cloud hanging over us at the moment, and it’s keeping us all in the dark. The worst thing about it, for me anyway, is the mixed messages.

We don't know what's going on and yes, that's not unusual in today’s modern age of football, but it really stings and hurts when, lets be honest, the sustainable future of our football club is at stake.

We need clarity from the EFL and we need new signings if we’re going to compete properly this season - as Saturday showed...

Conclusion

It’s going to be, at least, a very difficult few weeks until the end of the transfer window and, if these few weeks don’t go to plan, a very rough season too.

That means that we need to all come together and back the team, back the players and back Pauno. We’re going to go through some tough patches this season, but remember this mess is through no fault of any of the players or the manager. In fact, we’re lucky that Pauno has decided to stay put and jumped ship.

It is definitely not a time to start digging out other Loyal Royals, who I promise you, are just as frustrated as you that we don’t know what's going on. We need to stick together.

URZ.