Mixed emotions were definitely the order of the day on Saturday. There was of course relief and happiness that, after a torrid campaign, we managed to secure our safety for another year. However, I couldn’t help but feel a bit worried about what is to come next season after witnessing an abysmal performance.
I know Ince said he didn’t care about the result, which is fair enough considering he’s achieved the task he was asked to do, but I - and many other Reading fans - just can’t feel the same way.
After two fantastic results, Saturday was a huge reality check and a sign of the size of the task at hand this summer and beyond.
Here’s how the fans reacted to the big talking points...
A poor performance
I haven’t gone into many games with confidence this season, but I did on Saturday. The last two results had got me feeling good, and on Saturday we had a chance to seal our safety with a good win against a team who were playing for nothing. But instead, we got the kind of performance we’ve become accustomed to this season.
Individual errors, poor defending and not being very threatening going forward. I think it was a bit of a reminder of where we actually are as a club, and the work that needs to be done.
A really bad performance, and one that got the result it deserves...
We’ve had a few heroic individual performances here and there and one or two decent wins. But overall any team that finishes below us this season absolutely deserve to go down #readingfc— Colin White (@_col__83) April 23, 2022
Will go under the radar because we’ve stayed up but that’s definitely up there with one of the worst performances I’ve seen all season. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) April 23, 2022
Lame, unconvincing #ReadingFC are surviving thanks to poor performances elsewhere.— Mick Day (@MickDay99) April 23, 2022
A lot of surgery needed on this squad during the Summer, and whoever is involved in those hard decisions needs to keep our woeful defending uppermost in their plans.
Well that was dreadful terrible performance all round, at least were safe though. Onwards and upwards I guess. Feel sorry for all those Reading fans that have the long journey back, I’ve only got a bus journey home #Readingfc— Jamie Collis (@JamieCollis1995) April 23, 2022
Poor performance today. Plenty to work on, in particular without the ball and as a defensive unit. #ReadingFC— Dave Roberts (@LaughingLima) April 23, 2022
Wow … it sure is lucky there was one more dodgy off the field team than us and 2 worse on the pitch as us this season …as we were shocking yet again today ♂️#readingfc but we’re staying up that’s all that counts— Cliff (@royalcliff71) April 23, 2022
Just got back from an 8 hour, 480 mile round trip. What an absolute shambles of a performance. 56/92 is about the only positive #readingfc— MB (@milliebilcliff) April 23, 2022
We are staying up
Ultimately, this was the big story of the day, and I think it deserves to be. We’ve flirted with relegation a few times in recent seasons, but this season was the only one where I had resigned myself to the fact we were going down.
I didn’t see a way out of the mess we’d got ourselves in - but somehow we’ve managed to claw ourselves out of it.
Credit has to go to Ince and the players for doing that, and the fans were able to breathe a big sigh of relief on Saturday evening...
The royals are staying up so many things to fix before next season but im just so happy we aint going down safe trip home to those that went urzzzz #readingfc— Johnny Hunt (@Huntyroyal) April 23, 2022
Yet another defeat but at least we don’t have to worry again now until August. Up the ding #readingfc— Alistair Poppins (@kentishwizard) April 23, 2022
It’s official. We are staying up. Job done. We can be happy with that right now. Let’s think about next season and what’s to come another time. Cheers #readingfc— readingfclens (@readingfclens) April 23, 2022
Whether he's the right man long term or not, Incey as done a fantastic job keeping us up. Full credit to him #readingfc— AidenRFC (@AidenRFC_) April 23, 2022
Looking ahead to the summer
Although we still have two games left, after the game on Saturday eyes definitely started to turn to what is going to be a vital summer for the future of this club.
There are some big decisions to be made and they need to be made quickly. Who will be manager? Who, if any, of the out-of-contract players will re-sign? Will we hire a DoF? And so many more.
This club and the powers-that-be do not have a good history of planning and making the right decisions, but my God do they need to make the right ones this summer.
Here’s what the fans had to say...
Safe (thank goodness), huge summer ahead now, who stays, who goes, massive rebuild for next season, and more importantly who is going to lead that rebuild? #readingfc— Simon Edwards (@Madstad109) April 23, 2022
Obviously relieved to be staying up, but this has been a disgracefully bad season. Hopefully a big rebuild on the way #readingfc— Aidan (@dingaidan_) April 23, 2022
Absolutely gargantuan summer ahead of us, but that’s such a monumental relief. The implications of going down may well of killed our club. Annoying to be so poor today, but truthfully - I couldn’t care less #readingfc— Matt Joy (@MattJoy96) April 23, 2022
Relief - safety confirmed. Big summer coming up, let’s hope for some logical decision making!! #readingfc— Steven Hansell (@steveyroyal) April 23, 2022
Such a weird feeling. Happy to be safe from relegation but todays performance and the lack of consistency is a major concern. We’re in for the biggest summer in living memory. #stayingup #happynothappy #urz #readingfc— dseyRFC ⚽️ (@dsey75) April 23, 2022
Rebuild has to start now, massive summer ahead of us, need stability, don’t care who leaves, start again #readingfc— Daniel Snow (@DanSnow1708) April 23, 2022
A day of mixed emotions. We’re safe, it’s another season in the Championship, but if we don’t stop seeing performances like we did on Saturday and if we don’t make the right decisions this summer, another season might be all it is.
The fact of the matter is that this squad should not really be celebrating finishing 21st. It’s been a season of players performing well below their best and we better be thanking our lucky stars that Derby are a worse-run club than even us.