I’m still struggling to put my overriding emotions and feelings about Saturday’s game into words. The performance on the pitch was nothing we haven’t seen before: lacking ideas and any quality going forward and yet more defensive errors meant we succumbed to another deserved loss.
However, it was the scenes after the final whistle had blown that take the headlines really. While most of the players walked off down the tunnel after clapping the fans, some stayed and took a torrent of emotion from the travelling faithful. It was all rather sobering.
Here’s how the fans reacted to another damning day...
A matter of weeks ago, despite results and performances not being outstanding, the large majority of fans were unanimous in the conclusion that Ruben Selles deserves time and near enough blameless for the situation we’re in.
Fast-forward to now, and the pressure seems to be piling on the manager. Again on Saturday he largely stuck true to his 4-2-2-2 (although for what it's worth I thought Dom Ballard played a lot more like a number 10). And again we failed to create chances and keep them out at the other end.
The fans are starting to lose patience it seems...
Do think Sellés invites criticism with that Holmes/Ballard substitution. Screams of trying to hold onto a point, which looks horrendous when it fails. #ReadingFC— ReadingBetweenTheLines (@ReadingBTL) October 7, 2023
Not that we can afford to sack him, but Selles has to go. Lost 7 out of the opening 11. Not good enough under any circumstances, we’re going down again. #readingfc— Dan (@DanCleaver28) October 7, 2023
Stubbornness from Selles isn’t just idiotic but it’s offensive #readingfc— Tom (@SaturdayRoyal) October 7, 2023
4-2-2-2 simply doesn't work. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is the definition of madness right?!?! Don't think sacking Selles is the answer. But the formation needs changing #readingfc— Sidney A (@PaulBond888) October 7, 2023
Button should obviously take the majority of the blame for the goal again but Selles’ defence minded substitution has part of the blame. Holmes for Ballard when he’s been one of our few bright sparks was a ridiculous substitution to make. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) October 7, 2023
I was prepared to give Selles the Orient & Charlton away game but having witnessed that Holmes substitution and negative tactics, lose to Swindon on Tuesday and he has to go! Away end was rightly toxic at the end. #readingfc #SellBeforeWeDai— JRSRoyal1871 (@JRSRoyal1871) October 7, 2023
Selles has been given a poisoned chalice in every sense of the phrase. BUT he has to do better. Build bridges. Reintegrate some of the players he's ditched. I'm sorry, but NGW walks into the LB slot right now. TMac would do a job at 6. Holmes better than Dean. #readingfc— Imran Escőbar (@razor5edge) October 7, 2023
Another away loss
We’ve all read this script before, haven’t we? I’m running out of original and new things to say about these results away from home. It’s just getting boring now.
Fans pay hard-earned cash and travel endless miles to watch their team play up and down the country, and what we’ve got in return from this club in the past year is just unacceptable.
Yes I understand the behind-the-scenes turbulence doesn't help anyone, but we still deserve better. The fans are getting pretty sick of it all to be honest...
It yet again feels like just copy and paste from the last god knows how many away games. Struggle to get a foothold in the game, get outplayed and even when we do manage to get into the game and equalise, we inevitably concede late on without fail #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) October 7, 2023
That is our 9th straight away defeat.— Paul Williams (@PaulFrankfurt71) October 7, 2023
It is now over 6 months since the last point at Bristol City
Can someone find me odds for Reading getting no points away from home all season #Readingfc— Stephen Lacey (@StephenLacey11) October 7, 2023
Just awful- 6 straight away defeats- Even with all the off field issues- Selles under pressure now #readingfc— Stevie p (@stevie_p1871) October 7, 2023
Wonder what the odds were for Reading not to get an away win for a whole year away from home in the league.. #readingfc— Alex (@Pickettlickett) October 7, 2023
I’ve seen this script sooo many times..— Alex Stone (@alexgstone15) October 7, 2023
Port Vale, Exeter, Cambridge now Orient..
The exact same game.. the exact same loss..
So painful, because we knew exactly what would happen. #readingfc https://t.co/QCVNhdi8AP
The post-match scenes
We’ve had our fair share of emotional player-fan interactions in recent years, but nothing as sad, sobering or frankly awkward as what we saw on Saturday.
Harlee Dean arguing with fans, half the team walking down the tunnel as quickly as they could, and then seven or eight players, plus Selles, Andrew Sparkes and James Oliver-Pearce, staying standing mere metres away from the travelling contingent as a torrent of pent-up emotion, anger and sadness came there way.
It was just the saddest indictment yet of how far our club has fallen. It should not be on the likes of Nelson Abbey, Matty Carson and Coniah Boyce-Clarke to take that kind of abuse. But the frustration from the fans is understandable.
Seeing some of the videos of the young players getting abuse at the end of the game doesn’t sit right with me. They all need our support and we all need to stand together. I don’t understand our fan base at times. Yes I get the frustration but what happened to #bekind #readingfc— KatieR (@dingbiggsmum) October 7, 2023
Big shout to them players who stood there after the game today and took that. Was it deserved? Yes but to the whole team and not just these young lads. Nelson Abbey leading from the front as usual. He’s become a legend already. Selles got the subs wrong again #readingfc— smudger (@smujjii87) October 7, 2023
I just can’t bring myself to boo a load of 18 year olds trying their best.— Greg Double (@Dubstep1988) October 7, 2023
Horrid post-match scenes, Button trying to apologise whist getting screamed at…it’s all just really toxic.
The big problem? We can’t scream at the cause, so we’re screaming at the symptoms. #readingfc
Not seen an away end at full time like that in a while. Pure toxic #readingfc— micah (@m1871e) October 7, 2023
Abbey in tears at full time. That man and a few of the younger lads are the only ones that give a toss. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) October 7, 2023
Just a really sad, sobering day that sums up the state our club is in. There has to be some kind of curse on the club at this point that means were damned never to win away from home in the league ever again.
And those post-match scenes, I don’t really know what to say. As the fans made clear during the game and after, we just want our Reading back.