I mentioned this in my match report but, for me, Saturday evening went a lot better than I expected it to. Of course its always disappointing to lose and there were certainly some frustrations (mainly in the form of a 6ft4 Geordie), but there have been a lot worse performances this season.
A cup run is always nice, but the priority is to stay in the league - and there is no shame in going out of the cup to the hands of one of the most in-form teams in the country. Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points...
Carroll is clearly a favourite in the dressing room and the reaction to his contract extension earlier this month was largely positive. However, he really let the team down on Saturday night with a crazy five minutes when he got a yellow card, should’ve got a second or even a straight red for wild lunge on Christian Eriksen, and then did get his second yellow with a rash challenge on Casemiro.
Not only did the fans have the red card to discuss, but it was also noticeable how much better we played once he wasn’t on the pitch...
Andy Carroll didn't need to do that.— HMS Reading FC (@bluewhitewall) January 28, 2023
Immature from him.#ReadingFC
I really am coming to terms with the fact that Andy Carroll, as marvellous as he is at bringing the ball down, is severely detrimental to how the team plays.— fIN (@FinSouthKlein) January 28, 2023
How else can you explain us playing with more potency with him off the pitch, and a player light? #ReadingFC
We don’t look any worse with Carroll sent off. Just shows you how poor our tactics were. #readingfc— Paolo (@Skeptichead) January 28, 2023
Red card aside why on earth did we give Carroll an 18 month deal?— Kian (@dingkian) January 28, 2023
Play 10x worse with him on the pitch #readingfc
From the bad to the not so bad. Mbengue has cemented himself as a firm fans’ favourite since joining and, although he’s still very raw, there's a lot to like about how he’s performed when he’s got his chance.
Shane Long aside, there’s no-one in this side who I like seeing getting on the scoresheet more, and to do it at Old Trafford is a great moment for him. The fans were certainly happy for Mbengue and also impressed with how he played when he came on...
Mbengue must surely start the next game #readingfc— Matty Lovegrove (@LovegroveMatty) January 28, 2023
Surely that shows ince that Mbengue should start games #readingfc— RoyalPain (@RoyalPainUTD) January 28, 2023
Nice moment for Mbengue at least. Baffled that he doesn't get more game time. Someone's going to have to explain those latest Ince subs to me (again). #readingfc— George Flood (@GeorgeFlood24) January 28, 2023
Mbengue has to start every game from now on. Changes our game for the better. Baller #readingfc— Jamie Burr (@Jamiepburr98) January 29, 2023
Young kid from Senegal, living out his dream in England, scoring away at Old Trafford.— RFC Latest (@RFCLatest) January 29, 2023
Might not have got the result last night, but a wonderful moment for Amadou Mbengue. #readingfc
Holmes and McIntyre were good today. Both put in real shift. Mbengue should be the first name on the teamsheet. #readingfc— Simon Latson (@SimonLatson) January 28, 2023
No shame in losing
There are some games where you just have to hold your hands up and admit that the opposition are just better than you. And Manchester United are a better team than Reading. That’s just fact.
Yes there are things we can improve on and things we could’ve done a lot better, but losing to United is fine, it really is. Our priority is to stay in the league, not to win the FA Cup. The fans were quick to note that there’s no shame in losing to United...
Losing away at old Trafford was probably expected, also could've been worse than 3-1, but scoring with 10 men was good! I'm pretty sure if you look up the work block in the dictionary, there will a pic of Tom Holmes #readingfc— Simon Edwards (@Madstad109) January 29, 2023
#ReadingFC Down but far from disgraced - a very creditable performance in such a tough fixture. Now we can focus on making sure we avoid a relegation battle over the coming months— Brian Lawton (@mxblawton) January 28, 2023
End of the day this is Man united.. 4th in the premiership at home against a team built with free agents, loanees and under embargo. 3-1 isn't bad at all! Proud of the boys for grabbing a goal with a man down! Now to concentrate on the league and staying up!#readingfc @ReadingFC— Arron flesch (@Arronflesch) January 28, 2023
I would say we did well considering our team vs theirs and their form compared to ours.— HMS Reading FC (@bluewhitewall) January 28, 2023
Hopefully this helps us perform better in the league.#ReadingFC
Oh well didn't expect anything from tonight and didn't disgrace ourselves. Now we can focus on the league and keep that gap between us and the bottom 3 #readingfc— Ryan (@Ryan1871_) January 28, 2023
Haven’t disgraced ourselves at all there. Holmes and McIntyre looked solid at the back, and didn’t look too bad when we actually went forward. Onto the league #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) January 28, 2023
Didn’t get hammered and we’re now free to focus on improving our league form. That’s the real result for Reading.— Jake (@JakeMoorePR) January 28, 2023
Played better with ten men and the only downside was that our most experienced player acted like the most inexperienced for ten minutes. Ah well. #readingfc
We didn’t disgrace ourselves and that’s a good thing in my eyes. Other teams would’ve been put to the sword by United and let the floodgates well and truly open, but we didn’t - not even when we went down to 10.
All eyes move onto the league now. Next up, Watford.