There’s only really one word to describe Tuesday night’s result really, and that word is sobering. After the jubilant highs of the last three games that saw us gain three wins and three clean sheets, we came crashing back down to earth with a ginormous thud at the hands of Sheffield United.
It was a reality check in all honesty. Our fight this season isn’t with the likes of Sheffield United. Despite the last three games, at the moment our eyes still have to be purely on trying to stay in this division, and Tuesday night was a reminder of that.
It was a depressing mixture of the hosts being very, very good and showing why they will be there or thereabouts come May, and us being well off the pace and showing why we can’t be getting away with ourselves so early on in the season.
Here’s how the fans reacted to the biggest talking points...
The curious case of Lucas Joao.
The striker had a really bad data the office, and was desperately infuriating. But what we saw shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone and doesn't tell us anything new about Lucas Joao as a player.
It was probably the worst game I’ve seen from him in long time, but it doesn’t change my opinion on him. We all know he’s a hot-and-cold player.
Some fans were quick to criticise Lucas, but others quick to point out that we still need him in this team...
Am I really seeing people turn on Joao because of his lack of running? When has he ever done that? Ever? Easy to forget the running when he scored goals, but no goal and the running matters now. It’s never been his game #readingfc— Alex (@royalex_B) August 31, 2022
People only realising that Joao is a lazy player? He was the exact same at Wednesday, nothing has changed thats how he plays #readingfc— Todd-ED (@TED247) August 30, 2022
Joao looked very unfit and lazy tonight according to the fans/media, honestly dosent surprise me, he was the same at Blackburn and he scored so we had to let him off. Thoughts needed bye incy wether he really wants to start him instead of Shane #readingfc #championship— stephen jones (@stephen07978633) August 30, 2022
I’m officially done with Joao. Enough about his goals and that. On his day he’s unplayable but those days are becoming more and more rare. Lazy, inconsistent, horrid attitude. #ReadingFC— Tatum (@TatumRFC) August 30, 2022
I see some are on Joao’s case again and suggesting we’d be better off without him! IMO just calling him lazy is in itself lazy. Fortunately the manager and coaching team appear to view him differently. #readingfc— Andy C #FBPE (@AndyRFCCharman) August 30, 2022
Seems the fan base have finally lost it thinking Shane Long is better than Lucas Joao Long runs about like a headless chicken and his record shows it doesn’t result in goals.— Pedro‼️ (@PictonPedro) August 30, 2022
Give Joao the service and he’ll get us 20+ goals a season #ReadingFC
João in his sulking mood today, endlessly giving the ball away with no effort to work back. Shocking attitude and the total opposite of what we need to be about as a team this season #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) August 30, 2022
Back to reality
In a perverse way, like Ince said, we probably needed a result like that just to keep our feet on the ground and make sure we don’t get carried away, both players and fans alike.
Of course, a win would’ve been fantastic. But it was a reality check of where were at in this moment in time. Yes, the performance was bad. But we’re a threadbare squad and we came up against quality opposition who are, simply, better than us.
Like I said previously, our fight this season is not with the likes of Sheffield United. It was positive to see the fans admit that too...
All I'll say from tonight's result and performance is we aren't expected to get points against Sheffield United etc as they are too strong.— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) August 30, 2022
It's results against Birmingham and Wigan etc that will be difference between #readingfc staying up and getting relegated
One of those where we just played a way better team. Between the second and third I thought we were growing into it but we fell apart after the third. Credit to Sheffield United they were phenomenal all over. Great stadium and fans too #readingfc #shufc #sufc— Harry Sands (@SarryHands) August 30, 2022
Reality check. struggling to see whether the 2 spankings, or the 3 wins on the bounce is the blip and which is the norm. #readingfc— Paul Towner (@PaulTowner7) August 30, 2022
Over confidence after winning 3/3, huge crash to earth #readingfc— Nick Crook (@nickmightyroyal) August 30, 2022
Let’s be realistic, Sheffield United *should* be beating us 4-0. We’re a squad made up of PL has-beens and academy products playing against proven top level talent.— Jake (@JakeMoorePR) August 30, 2022
Ince got it all wrong tonight, but it’s a long season and plenty of time to get things right. #readingfc https://t.co/5bDuJKFB9L
Conceding four again
When it rains it pours. To say we always crumble when we concede would be incorrect, considering we only lost 1-0 to Blackpool and fought back to win against Cardiff City. However, it seems to happen quite a lot.
I wasn't too stressed losing to Sheffield United, but I’d be lying if I said conceding four didn't rankle a bit. It’s always really disappointing to concede that many, and we did make it far too easy on occasions.
The fans weren’t too impressed either...
Jesus. Sheffield are like a hot knife through butter with our ‘defence’ #readingfc— David Elliott (@D4vidElliott) August 30, 2022
Why is it, when we concede once, we get utterly battered. #readingfc— micah (@m1871e) August 30, 2022
Could stake your life that 2-0 would become four - so, so predictable. #readingfc incapable of losing without getting properly hammered.— George Flood (@GeorgeFlood24) August 30, 2022
Wasn’t really expecting anything from this game. But this passing and defending has been woeful #readingfc— Lewis (@lewrfc) August 30, 2022
Didn’t expect anything but conceding 4 goals is poor. Anyway thank god we’re at home on Sunday let’s bounce back #readingfc— Ding Will (@loumball) August 30, 2022
Lose 4-0. Win 3 on the bounce without conceding & then lose 4-0 again. Couldn't sum up Reading any better. #readingfc— Tom (@TomMoore0506) August 30, 2022
A game that *hopefully* won’t dictate our season, but still a really, really disappointing evening. We just weren't at the races from the get go, and you have to be at the races against a team like Sheffield United.
Hey ho, it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up from falling right? Onwards and upwards to Stoke on Sunday.