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)...
I cannot wait for the game today. It’s great to see that we’ve started Bristow and Azeez. No matter what the score is today, I’m so happy that we’re finally back ⚪️ #readingfc— Luke (@Luke1871_) August 7, 2021
Football is back. Reading FC winning isn't back yet.— Reading FC Blue And White Wall (@bluewhitewall) August 7, 2021
But you know what is?
Feel free to share clips or photos from the game today. The support was incredible today.#ReadingFCpic.twitter.com/DKy6gi3e95
Always disappointing to lose but boy was it great to back watching #readingfc. It’s going to be a tough season but honestly just happy to be able to go to the games again.— Tommo (@Rfctomo) August 7, 2021
Brilliant to be back in the stands, and an enjoyable day result aside. I still feel with a couple of additions in the next few weeks we'll be a solid mid-table side at worst. Definitely not all doom and gloom, incredible away support today too....football is back ⚽ #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) August 7, 2021
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...
Anyway - how good was John Swift today, best player on the pitch #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) August 7, 2021
John Swift on set pieces is funny man. He’ll hit the first man four times in a row then we’ll score from the next one #readingfc— Dan (@danoftheroyals) August 8, 2021
That game was lost when he took swift off. Need signings for next week. #readingfc— Deckland (@dsaund6) August 7, 2021
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...
Are people starting to wake up to the fact that it’s not the EFL that’s the problem, it’s the owners?— Phil C Green (@philcgreen) August 7, 2021
….Apparently not! #readingfc
What an absolute mess. It’s not fair on Paunovic, Wadmin, fan accounts etc to get the brunt of the fans’ outrage (which is entirely justified btw)— Fin (@FinSouthKlein) August 8, 2021
Whatever the situation is, even if it’s that we *still* haven’t had the go-ahead from the EFL yet, we need to know now #ReadingFC
The lack of transfer clarity shows badly, its August and the club still don't know just inexcusable. Good thing Derbys signings consist of three washed players and a mercenary. #readingfc— Will (@Teapotstagram) August 7, 2021
Don’t you love how every transfer is always “subject to EFL approval” they literally could have prevented us from overspending by bot approving signings like baldock aluko etc#readingfc— Will Sumner (@willsumner09) August 7, 2021
Not sure why people are panicking over this.— Adam GC Jones (@ajonesrfc) August 8, 2021
I find it very hard to believe we’ve ever been given the green light by the EFL to make signings all summer considering our losses.
Doubt anything’s changed in recent days, we’re just stuck in the same situation as before #readingfc https://t.co/tu3yVsSvK3
Worrying times as a Reading fan. I always try to be positive but this time it feels different. However, until the transfer window closes there is still hope that signings will be made. We need to back the team, back Pauno and hope everything is sorted. This is OUR club #ReadingFC pic.twitter.com/QYwXb6MFgs— PaunoSZN (@PaunoSzn) August 8, 2021
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.