Storm Dudley did its very best to turn a spectacle that was never going to be a ‘classic’ into somewhat of a farce, but Reading don’t need much encouragement to reach such a nadir. Whilst Reading coped well with the conditions in the first half, often thwarting Boro’s wind-assisted attacks, they failed to capitalise those conditions themselves in the second half.
While we’re not a team to pump the ball into the channels endlessly or take speculative strikes from distance, it did seem to be that a trick missed not to literally throw caution to the wind (pun intended) and test the keeper, at very least. Tactics. Who needs ‘em?
Formula of fear
Although the conditions could be blamed for some of the quality, our play in general was scrappy and disjointed. Aside from John Swift, nobody else seemed to be comfortable putting their foot on the ball for more than a moment. Everyone else, Danny Drinkwater included, seemed to treat the ball like a hot potato. Passes were made without much thought of where they’d end up or what that pass would in turn lead to.
The lack of, again, tactics, to get the ball into the final third, or to try and possibly expose a full-back or use the wind to our advantage – none of these things appeared to happen. The ball seemed to gravitate to the nearest player even though he wasn’t best placed to receive the ball in the first place. Tactics. Who needs ‘em?
Coupled with the lack of obvious tactical nous, the lack of emergency in the play was very apparent. Every fan of the club saw this as a ‘must-win’ game; it was the very definition of a six-pointer. It would have given us a sorely needed lift.
But, once again, the tepid nature of the play, the lack of expression or real desire to win was missing. Even in the last 10 minutes, with the wind on their side, it was never felt that anyone was willing to break free of the mental shackles and just try something different. It was like watching a re-run of a game that you knew had finished 0-0, but you watched anyway.
In a rare event, Andy Yiadom spoke with fans outside the stadium who were venting their anger against the players as they boarded the club bus. While very commendable from Andy to front up to fans, a lot more could have been said to appease them.
What was said was mostly unclear, but what was audible seemed to indicate that the players are trying. Whether that is enough to get us out of this situation seems very unlikely. Obviously, there’s much more flesh to be put on the bone from just one comment but trying would seem to be a very basic prerequisite for the state that we find ourselves in.
The news that Veljko Paunovic had reportedly offered his resignation but was refused to leave has put a different spin on his position. More than ever, Velkjo’s post-match musings have seemed empty yet rambling with little coherence or tangible facts to take away from them.
As it is obvious that he’ll be leaving at the end of the season, his demeanour now seems rather deflated, defeated and devoid of enthusiasm. Whatever we think of Pauno as a manager it’s hard not to feel some degree of sympathy for his mental state at a human level alone.