What can you say?
Another road trip, another sell-out by the Royals fans, another defeat. It’s depressing; it truly is an absolutely shocking stat that we haven’t won for 17 games or what seems like a decade away from the SCL.
It is not so much the fact that we are getting beat, although that is bad enough. It is the manner of the defeats. The fans, all credit to them, have turned up. To take over 1,000 to an away-game midweek is testament to the fortitude the fans have. However, they are repaid which abjectness, poor performances and general crappiness.
This display was awful. OK the second half got a bit better, but there is no cohesion, no talent and no impact. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, and as a ‘keeper these are magnified, but David Button effectively answered the question of why he has been a backup ‘keeper for a number of seasons and, in reality, not been first choice since 2016.
While yes, in a couple of games he has kept us in it and secured us points, in away games he has proved to be calamitous. While he was the headline-grabber with three poor, saveable goals, there were others: such as Andy Yiadom managing to get sent off from the bench (which, as a club captain, is shocking), Clinton Mola (I have no answer for his performance), Femi Azeez (who’s a shadow of the player that we thought he was), and then there’s Ruben Selles, who put arguably our first-choice centre-back to struggle at right-back.
Shocking, there really isn’t anything to say.
There is only so much depression I can take reading the Twitter feeds so here’s the best bits.
Fair assessment of the game
That was a tough watch second half we looked like conceding the equalizer but we held on and got the third, first half we looked magic really good 3 points tonight #ntfc— bal (@mkcobbler) October 3, 2023
Button fan club
When you’re positive, you’re positive
Ooh it got a bit shaky but yet another late goal to seal it. Stood up to the task second half and buried it. Absolutely loving this season and this squad. Get in! #ntfc— Danny Brothers (@dannybrothers) October 3, 2023
Fair comment on Reading’s defence
Reading's defence is absolutely catastrophically awful. They look like a side on their way to non-league. #NTFC— Freddy Gilder (@SimplyFred) October 3, 2023
The goal doesn’t get any better the more you look at it
Never, ever sit back on a lead
Nearly paid for sitting back 2nd half wasn't needed we would of battered them. Luckily we capitalised on there mistakes #ntfc— joty_1636 (@JoshTyl30503739) October 3, 2023
As usual there’s not a huge amount to write up about. Over at the Reading Chronicle I think James is just as fed up with the run as the rest of us, and gives us a factual account. You can tell he’s as frustrated as the rest of us.
The Northampton Chronicle are nice to us and probably give us more credit than we deserve. They go on to say that Reading dominated parts of the second half; I can only presume that the writer had a glass or two of vino while watching the game.
The BBC have a similar report, again highlighting the impact (!) of Reading in the second half. For the sado-masochist out there you can watch the highlights (or lowlights as we like to call them, here on Sky.
OK, so I have used this column to plead for patience and understanding as to the plight of this team, given the off-field turmoil we are going through. I have, like many others however, started to get a bit disillusioned with the whole thing.
There are two distinct groups within the team: the pros (probably 20-30+ games) and the players that this season we have relied on. There were hundreds of tweets that I saw saying “this player isn’t good enough”, “he’s rubbish” etc. Now, you look at most teams and the younger players we have would be getting game time appropriate to their level of development.
We are plunging players into a hard league campaign with little or no experience, and when you couple this with how they “normally” would have experience around them, this gives us an idea that maybe these players are good enough, just have not got the leadership or experience around them that they need at this stage of the career.
Combine that with the off-field dramas that will affect them, and maybe the pressure is getting a bit too much like a pressure cooker. At some point they will explode and make a rash decision, get out of position or have a poor game.
Now, if we look at the senior level, then that excuse goes. These guys should be able to handle it, understand what it’s all about and know what to do.
This to me harks back to 2005 when Steve Coppell managed to galvanise a team. I read The Sum of the Parts and the one thing that struck me was how Coppell enhanced the use of the sports psychologists. He got it into the players’ heads. Maybe a different tactic is needed by our coaching team, starting to focus on the mindset as well as the footballing side, as since 2012 that has been sorely missing from this team.
Anyway, money on breaking our duck at Leyton Orient… hmm...