LEAGUE DIVISION TWO
READING 1 BRENTFORD 2
(Half Time: 0-0)
Reading Scorers: Butler (53 mins, pen).
Brentford Scorers: Ingimarsson (69 mins), Price (73 mins).
Date: 27 October 2001
Attendance: 14,680

Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Viveash, Williams, Robinson, A.Smith, Harper, Parkinson, Hughes, Cureton, Butler. Subs: Ashdown, Mackie, Rougier, Forster, Shorey.

Brentford: Gottskalksson, Price, Anderson, Ingimarsson, Powell, Hunt, Mahon, Sidwell, Gibbs, Owusu, Burgess. Subs: P.Smith, McCammon, Hutchinson, Williams, J.Smith.
 
Bookings:
Parkinson, Hughes, Forster (Reading); Sidwell, Powell, Gibbs, Owusu, Anderson (Brentford).
Referee:
M Fletcher (Warley)

Only to be expected really. The two away victories at Notts County and Oldham built up some massive expectations which were always going to be far too hopeful. Brentford had already won five league games on the trot to go top of the league, meanwhile Reading hadn't won at home since beating Wycombe well over a month ago. Brentford have been playing some great passing football and scoring shed loads of goals, Reading haven't. Yet Reading fans still expected us to win. The fact is Brentford are a team on the way up and Reading are a team stuck in the Second Division. Of course the result was a massive disappointment in front of the biggest league crowd of the season, but it really shouldn't have been that much of a shock. This just confirmed what we already know - promotion this season is going to be a real struggle.

With Adrian Whitbread ruled out through injury in stepped Adrian Williams - other than that it was the same starting eleven, which seemed sensible enough. Although this team had claimed six points from the last two away outings they were never that close to producing anything special today. The first half was almost entirely forgettable. Reading just aren't very exciting at the moment.

Brentford had the better of the first half after producing a couple of chances that probably should have seen them ahead before the half time break. The Reading defence didn't look that stable despite Murty having a superb game at right back. Brentford should have been ahead after working their way into two clear shooting opportunities only to send the ball way over the crossbar. On another occassion a good cross from the left, on a rare occassion Murty was beaten, saw an unmarked Brentford player in the middle with a free header. Thankfully the header was poor and also over the bar. Whitehead also needed to tip over a cross from the left when it suddenly seemed to be looping into the corner. Brentford looked strong through the middle coming forward with some pacy passing moves causing the Reading defence trouble. We needed three players to stop one Brentford rampage through the middle ending with Robinson knocking the ball back to almost cost a goal as the player ran onwards.

Down the other end there was very little action as the Brentford keeper had a very quiet half. The best chance came as Cureton raced into the box from the right at pace and sent a shot across the face of goal - but wide. His better option would have been to cross to Alex Smith unmarked on the left side of the box. It was probably our best chance of the half and we could have done more with it.

At half-time we were happy with 0-0. All we needed was to sneak a goal in the second half and hang onto it and get the points. That would have been nice. And it looked almost likely seven minutes into the second half when Jamie Cureton was pulled down inside the area. It was lucky the referee spotted it with play no where close to Cureton and with the defender having no cause to worry at all. A strange decision to conceede a penalty - I guess he thought he'd get away with it. Martin Butler stepped up - and without a goal all season. He hit the penalty well and into the roof of the net, and Reading were a goal up. Butler's relief was clear as he marched over to the North Stand in celebration.

After the goal Brentford looked worried. If Reading had gone out on the attack they might have grabbed another and it would have probably killed the game off. Brentford started hoofing it clear, putting in some desperate late tackles, and made some poor passes. Reading looked the better side and the game could have been ours. However, we didn't get the second goal. In fact we totally failed to put the away side under any pressure and failed to test the keeper. Brentford got right back into the game and their superior passing, pace, and ability to work as a team were to win them the full three points. With twenty minutes to go the ball was crossed into the middle and stuck home to pull Brentford level. Just a few minutes later Brentford nearly scored with a shot against the post, in the resulting bundle Whithead seemed to make a save before it was a loose ball on the left. Reading failed to clear it again and it was chipped back into the middle and the spare Brentford man stabbed it home. Reading were 1-2 down.

Brentford could have increased their lead as the fans in the South Stand - a decent away following from Brentford roared their team on. Reading fans could only sit in silence as Reading threatened to collapse. It looked like they'd made it 1-3 after another good move behind the Reading defence saw a shot into the side-netting. Full time couldn't come fast enough with the Reading fans streaming out of the ground. Nicky Forster came on to taunts of Brentford reject but only managed to get booked for a dive inside the area - although that seemed very harsh with some definite contact between Forster and the defender. But another penalty would have been the only way to draw level and it just wasn't going to happen.

Towards the final whistle large numbers of the Reading crowd started chanting for Pardew to leave. However, its debatable that a change in the management could bring any success this season. It just doesn't seem to make any sense to make Pardew leave at this stage of the season, although the problems are clearly his. There was some effort on display from Reading with certain individuals working really hard. But that's exactly the problem - players working as individuals and not as a team. Brentford showed how to play as a team and it's got them points clear at the top of the table. Individually Reading are a better side than Brentford, but when will they start playing like a team?
Graham

Following report from John Wells:
I have yet to see a team worthy of automatic promotion this season and after to today's game I've seen nothing to change my mind. Last season Reading beat Brentford comfortably. Today they rarely threatened to even score. The Royals only goal came when a relieved Martin Butler converted a penalty after Cureton had been inexplicably hauled to the ground with the ball nowhere near him. Leading by a goal, with only about twenty minutes to go, I was expecting the Royals to at least avoid defeat. It was not be, and it raises doubts not only about the tactics, but once again about the character of the side.

There were signs early in the first half of confidence returning. Murty and Williams in particular showing composure when confronted by Brentford forwards flying at them. They were slipping the ball past them and feeding the ball through to feet. All that confidence seemed to have disappeared by half time. Passes were going astray from both teams and nether keeper had much to do. It was a very dull first half indeed. Cureton came very close with a left foot shot which just shaved the far post. Reading have Brentford's Ben Burgess to thank for going in level at half time. When presented with three good chances he demonstrated his all round ineptitude by missing first with his left foot, then with a simple header, and finally with his right foot when he was put clear of a sluggish looking defence by a simple long ball. (Isn't that how Grazioli scored last we played at home?)

In the second half Reading did not look capable of troubling the Brentford defence but managed to make enough mistakes to encourage Brentford to come back and win the game. The play at times was very sloppy indeed. Robinson started the trend by setting off on a run along the half way line and lost possession. It was hard to understand what he was trying to do other than trying to retain possession of the ball. Harper, who had a reasonable game, followed suit by passing square on the half way line to a startled looking Robinson. Poor though the pass was, I felt that had Robinson been concentrating, it might have prevented the resulting pressure on the Royals defence.

Adie Williams was next. He missed a harmless looking ball across the box and it fell to Ingamarsson who drove the ball firmly in to the net from 20 yards. By now Brentford were beginning to believe they were a great side and could go on to win. Their football was far from brilliant but they played with an air of confidence that teams get from a winning run. Crucially they also looked more determined to win, and less willing to accept defeat. Pardew helped things along by bringing on Rougier who finished the job off by slamming an attempted clearance into a Brentford player. From the resulting mayhem Price hammered home Brentford's winner from close range. Reading never looked like coming back even when they blatantly admitted to losing the ability to create chances by sending Viveash up front and began belting hopeful long balls. We know that we are not equipped for that sort of game, so the chances of it in working in the last five minutes were remote.

Apart from losing at home there are some fairly obvious patterns emerging. There was very little movement at set pieces and throw-ins. Rougier comes on beats a few players on the half way line, rarely produces a ball into the box, and then gives away free kicks when he becomes frustrated. Robinson contributes nothing and is often completely at sea defensively. The defence looks vulnerable to pace up the middle. (Owusu went past Viveash far to easily in the first half.) The forwards are not really working hard enough to receive or challenge for the ball. Brentford today in contrast were putting pressure on the player in possession deep in Reading's half - a tactic which produced their winner.

It is not very complicated. Reading have some very good players, but they are not making enough effort to go looking for the ball, or providing enough movement off the ball to unsettle their opponents. As for defending, they simply do not close players down quickly enough. No doubt everything thing will be different next week so I'll be off to Northampton to see what happens next!
John

Post Match Opinions

The opening 10 minutes of the first half were terrible. After that Reading started to play. For once the midfield looked to be competing, though we didn't create much. That said, Butler & Cureton didn't give them many options. At half time there was just that nagging doubt that Brentford would get fired up by their manager and attack. That's what happened. Though they still didn't look that special. As I was sitting in the North Stand I couldn't believe it when Cureton was pulled down. Definite penalty, but a pointless foul. Great strike from Butler. Brentford started to wobble. Then two mistakes from Reading at the back and it's all over.
I heard Pardew's post match comments about trying different players as the current ones just aren't working. True. But is more experimentation what we need? Do we want to be in this division AGAIN come the new season, or are we going to act now and replace Pardew. He isn't up to the job. He doesn't know how to reorganise the team once we kick off. He just watches while it falls apart. He is not able to fix the situation and get us up. If we want to go up, change the management as we still have time. I for one am fed up with blowing my free time watching Reading get turned over by yet another dross team in this shite division.

-- Paul L, Thatcham Royal

The HNA report sums it up we came hoping for a dramatic improvement on the Swindon game after 2 away wins but it was the same old story, poor passing, slack defending and a complete inability to do the simple things right. Take nothing away from Brentford they were a class above us and will surely be in the mix up come the end of the season unlike us, at best mid table mediocrity and another season in this division.
-- Pete, depressed Woodley Royal

Awful, crap, useless, pathetic, not good enough. I naively convinced myself that maybe we were turning our season around. No chance, we are at best mediocre and at worst relegation material. I have seen some poor performances in my time as a Reading fan, and this one is in the top ten. I can't say that one player had a good game. Murty was okay and Harper pretended to look like he knew what he was doing. Harper looks the part with excellent physical shape and an air of arrogance about him. The only problem is, is that he is only average at football. He must go back to basics and stop thinking he is David Beckham.
The strikers were ineffective, but I can't bring myself to blame them as the service they received was non existent. Long looping balls to Jamie Cureton are about as useful as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest. I don't totally agree with managerial change at this point of the season, but I couldn't find any legitimate argument to conduct with the 'Pardew Out' brigade at the end of the match. Now is probably the time for him to go. The problem is, who do you replace him with? All answers on a post card please.
As I solemnly trudged back to my car I got chatting to a couple of Brentford fans. They really envied everything us Reading fans have got. All except our team!
That just about sums up being a Reading fan at the moment.

-- Bob Lethaby

I have actually stopped enjoying going to the games. That is very sad, after many years loyal support. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I am seriously considering playing golf on Saturday afternoons. Today we were second best to a team whose top wage earner gets under half of what most of our players get paid. There was no cohesion, no team play, and frankly no chance. If Reading wont change, it looks like I might have to. What a difference a year makes. 12 months ago we beat Oxford to go top of the league. Its hardly believable.
-- Kevin, Worthing Royal.

Two words for the way we are performing at home: ''absolute rubbish''. It is just unbelievable. Our away performances are average but we seem to be getting the results, we just cant break down teams at home and quite frankly its a disgrace. If losing to swindon 3-1 a few weeks ago wasn't bad enough we've topped it up with yet another dismal home performance to an average Brentford side playing above themselves. We just look a shadow of the team that earned that memorable play-off final against Walsall, we haven't been the same side since that dark day. It is frustrating for all us Royals fans as the team is clearly under-acheiveing. Pardew's days at Reading appear to be numbered unless he can turn us around then I don't see any option but for Reading and Mr.Pardew to part company. I'm lost for words at the moment and at the final whistle, which was met by bos and jeers, I looked around at a dejected reading crowd as we are forced to see another season slowly begin to slip away.
-- Steve

Just watched the Reading v Brentford game, all I can say is that it was very disappointing. It is crystal clear to see that we are in dire need of a central midfielder that can control and dictate the pace of the game. James Harper is a terrific young talent, but too much is being expected of him too soon. I feel that Pardew should be nurturing him in the way that he seems to be doing with Nicky Shorey. Having said that Shorey may become a regular before too long as Robinson gave yet another example of why we leak so many goals. He was caught out of his position a countless number of times. Itís a shame because Graeme Murty was my MoM for Reading, he has the skill and tenacity to go forward; yet still has the determination to cover his defensive duties. The fact is today that Royals never looked like scoring and were made to look poor by an average 2nd Division side. Well done Brentford.
-- Dave

He might not do everything right and isn't everyones cup of tea, but to me James Harper is a class apart from the rest of the team. Trouble is the management seem unable to realise he can't do much with the ball sailing over his head. Week in week out we see that Reading are more effective when playing the ball on the ground yet still we resort to long ball. Most fans would surely forgive a defeat to a strong Brentford side, but it's the manner in which we are losing which is pretty hopeless, with Butler's goal just about our only attempt on target. Chairman John normally gives his manager alot of time, but recent interviews suggest that he's feeling more ruthless, stating that things must improve quickly. There wont be too many complaints if he does act soon, because unfortunately we're going nowhere fast.
-- Rob, Staines Royal

There's no point going on about the performance and the players after another home humiliation as it will all be said many times over in the report and opinions. What really gets to me is the heart of the problem and that is the football club itself. Ok, so we we've got a great stadium that most of our opponents would envy, so what! I'm getting so pissed of with seeing the away end packed as opposition fans roar their team on to victory. Apart from Wigan in the last five minutes of that amazing game last season, when has there been a sustained noise in the Mad Stad? The club has lost its soul, its lost its direction, vision, ambition and its turning very quickly into massive white elephant.
There is no doubt away teams raise their games at our place and we haven't a clue what to do about it, both on and off the pitch. Madejski has got some very serious thinking to do if he is sincere about the long term ambitions of this club. It must start on the pitch and build from there. I actually agree that Pardew going now will not probably achieve anything, but what is the choice? Waste another season, carry on winning the odd games here and there, sneaking into the playoffs, accepting mediocre players and performances? I don't think so.
The club needs a total overhaul, in the way its managed from the top by people who know about football, it needs to be marketed by meeting the fans needs and realistic expectations, not just what the club wants and it needs a proper experienced team manager and coaching staff to sort it out on the field. It's like the club has a disease, we get better then we lapse back, but the disease is spreading and getting worse. The club is dying in front of our eyes and although this disease is not terminal unless this club gets treatment soon it will be so bad that it will take years to recover. The old saying goes, if its working ok don't change it, well it's clearly not working ok so we need change, massive change. It needs to change throughout the entire club and if we don't, this club will disenchant so many supporters that it won't ever out shout the away end. What a gloomy thought.

-- Nick Newbury

Today was the day for Reading to come and show the home fans what had brought them success on the road. The fans turned up to see them.
Needless to say what they saw was just what is wrong with this Reading team.
Brentford are not a Millwall, what they are is organised and strong. Football matches are won in midfield unless you have outstanding strikers. At present our midfield is inadequate and our strikers are far from outstanding. The game started with Brentford taking the initiative, but as the half wore on Reading came back into it well. Chances were few. Cureton looked the most likely to score for Reading but I can't remember their keeper having a save to make all game. If they had had a decent striker Brentford may well have gone in at half time one or two up. The penalty that we got in the second half was just a bit of stupid defending and well spotted by the ref. Everyone was delighted that Butler scored. I think he is a terrific player but how long can Pardew keep him in? He leads the line well, but at present does not want to go near the goal.
The defence looked OK. Murty was again outstanding at right back. He showed a quiet assurance on the ball, looked to use it well and good positional sense. He was the only one. When the Brentford goals came, they were the result of individual error. A cross came in from the left after some outstanding work, but it should have been cleared. Williams (I think) mis-hit the clearance straight to one of them who hit a good shot into the back of the net. The second happened just after Rougier had come on. He got caught in possession and after a bit of bagatelle the ball was in the net. We might have had a second penalty, they might have scored a third from open play. We were one nil up and not good enough to hold on.
We played like rabbits trapped in a car's headlights. Too frightened to do anything sensible, and in the end got squashed. This brings me back to the midfield. In fact if you take the front six who started yesterday. There is only one who can genuinely hold the ball up (Butler) and he's struggled all season. We persist in playing balls down the channels. For this to work, you need front men who will work their socks off and fight for every ball. Cureton is an outstanding finisher but he does not fit that description. Parkie excepted, the midfield are reasonable ball players. The way to attack therefore has to be, 'give and go'. Movement has to be the key and yet we stand in a flat line of four and offer so little to the man with the ball. We should be setting up triangles and play the ball around to work the opening. We are not physically strong enough to play the way we did yesterday.
We lacked organisation and purpose. We did not lack effort. I could see no evidence of anyone taking charge on the pitch and trying to do something about it. We desperately need a high quality midfield general. At present he does not exist in the club. Parkie, Jones, Smith may all make contributions but they do not possess what this team needs at present. Pardew has done well in cutting the wage bill. Our strikers made us look a better team than we really were last year. This year, we need an injection of quality into the team. I feel sorry for the chairman whom I suspect is reluctant to spend more. If he doesn't, then it's play offs at the very best! Or we need to sell one of our so called stars and that means one of our strikers. Whatever we are going to do, we need to do it quickly.

-- Ken C

After the appalling display against Swindon I vowed not to go to another game untill Pardew & Allen go. Sadly for me after a couple of mediocre away games (although they were wins) my brother convinced me to go to the game with him yesterday. What a mistake, second half we looked more like Cambridge. Brentford however looked not too talented but having confidence instillled in them by good management. It would appear Pardew's half time talk must consist of, have a cup of tea chaps and just kick that ball. Tacticly speaking: 'Pardew bugger off!'
-- Roo, Wokingham Royal

I have to agree with most of the comments above but feel I must make a few points as well. This was essentially the same two teams who met last season at the Mad House in a game we won 4-1. The difference between the sides since is the Coach/Management. In Steve Coppell Brentford have someone who knows what they are doing and not someone who is learning and still making mistakes. Pardew has an arrogance about him that must rub the players up the wrong way and although the players don't have to like their boss it does help if they respect him - that respect seems non existent.
Robinson, Hughes and Alex Smith had awful games and I would have made the same two changes (although Igoe should get a game) that Pardew made. Rougier gets some stick and his mess up for the goal was lazy and rubbish defending but I believe that played in the right system and definately in Division One he would be one of our best players - no one else in the team can hold on to the ball like he does and although his passing is questionable at best he still gives us better options than Hughes who didn't have a clue what he was doing. Pardew says he will make changes, personally I agree with the people around me in the East Stand who said the same side should start on Tuesday as punishment!
However - Gamble, Henderson, Ashdown and Shorey all deserve a chance to sting the big wage earners. On a positive note Reading must be one of the best sides in the Division at turning defence into attack - opposition defence into opposition attack!

-- David - Ascot

What a total load of rubbish - Reading couldn't beat Twyford on this showing. Brentford top of the league? There must be a load of rubbish below them. Another 13 quid wasted. Pardew and Allen out now otherwise it's Division Three next season.
-- "Priest975"

For a while into the first half I was convinced we were going to win, Brentford did not look like the awesome table toppers who scored 5 in midweek, and with our two good away wins I really felt the corner was turned....how wrong I was!
The facts are that this is the same team who last season couldn't stop scoring goals and earlier this season refused to concede any either....a perfect combination. None of the major players left, and there were a couple of promisong additions even, but there is no team spirit and no organization. Pardew has to take the blame for this, there is no cohesive shape to the team, when he makes substitutions they often disrupt the play and maje things even worse. I mean Pardew has recently taken Cureton off before Butler who is having a nightmare, and yesterday introducing Rougier instead of Forster. It is good in a way that Pardew has kept faith in Butler, you always think that once he scores he will get back on track, but surely he has now had enough chances and Henderson or Forster must start. The worrying thing is there is no link up between the front men and the midfield which leaves them isolated and too often chasing the dreaded hoofs and long balls that Reading are becoming associated with. Harper is useless, sorry as it appears that lots of the reports praise him so he must be popular...but why?
He can't produce one decent through ball to the strikers, he can't score, he too often backpeddles and ends up putting pressure on our own defenders. I was impressed with Adie Williams, he did try to pass the ball out of defence a bit instad of his Hunteresque hoofs of recent games, but then he completely miskicked a clearance that led to the Bees first goal. Then for their second, Rougier summoned up the ghost of his own goal at the Cardiff Play-Off Final by not clearing properly aswell!! Terrible mistakes cost us the game, both goals were down to school boy errors and Pardew must get these sorted out.
Difficult to pick out good performances as overall it was dull, their keeper wasn't troubled once...Murty was good, but let's see some changes from Pardew now...Forster to start, get rid of Rougier...sell him quick along with Robinson. We are fast approaching Xmas and we should be established at least in the play-off places by now, but even another trip to Cardiff looks very unlikely.

-- Steve W

Another 13 quid down the drain ..take me back to Elm Park... nice atmosphere... good roomy terracing... and players who tried to earn their salary.
Sorry Alan, your days are over.

-- Gary, Tilehurst Royal

The worst thing about yesterday's result was that it wasn't really a great surprise. In the last two seasons we've set an unfortunate pattern of falling on our faces in crunch matches with big away attendances - Millwall and Bristol City last season, Cardiff, Swindon and Brentford this. I guess after this result the players will be embarrassed enough to do decently against Northampton and Wrexham, but you can bet your house on the result of the 10 November match against Bristol City - they'll show us up mercilessly again. How long can we continue like this? The season usually settles down by the end of October - the teams around the top are those that finish there in May. The top two will probably come from Brighton, Stoke or Bristol City, with Brentford looking strong enough for a playoff place. I think Peterborough will slip back, but Wycombe look a reasonable bet for a playoff place, with Huddersfield or moneybags Cardiff maybe snatching the other place. For us, inconsistent and 11 points off the top, just making the playoffs will be an achievement now. I really do feel sorry for John Madejski. He has a tough decision to make. The question for him now is: does he write this season off (being realistic), and hope that our present management will get us promoted next season, or does he take a huge gamble now? Because new management could just give us that new spark (plus one or two changes to the team) that could put us on a promotion winning run even now. This division is still waiting for someone to take it by storm - there is no clear favourite for promotion even now.
--Peter Jones

Well what can one say after we again witnessed a Reading display of utter crap. Make no mistake Brentford are just an ordinary side but they have got organization and 11 players who know there job, unlike our disorganized lot. After going 1-0 up at home against top of the league you would have thought we would have had the momentum to have gone on & won it, no not our lot they contrived to gift Brentford 2 goals with a display of totally inept defending. We have got no one prompting from midfield, Parkey,s been a great servant to the club but he's past his best. We need to rebuild the midfield totally, we had one effort on goal all afternoon and that was the penalty, other than that there keeper never had a save to make. One last point Anne Robinson is not the worst left back in the world he's the worst in the universe!
Pardew out before it's too late.

-- Bob, Newbury

Of the next 6 games we play, 5 are at home.
John M better act fast before things turn ugly.
I do not want to see another thrashing by Bristol City at home.
PARDEW OUT!

-- Disgruntled Newbury Royal

What a load of rubbish.
Come on Reading what is the problem? We can win away from home but not at home. Losing games to teams like Brentford who we should be thumping 5-0! We seem to be putting all these players out on loan however we have still not got a midfield! Harper is good, however is very inexperienced should we not be looking for a really good midfielder who could compliment Parky and also teach Harper and give him the knowledge he needs....Mr Madjeski will need to put his hands in his pockets and buy a good experienced midfielder to resolve this problem...This needs to be done quickly before it is too late and we end up in division three.

-- Dejected Michael Mackay

Another nightmare performance! The simple fact is that this season, other than last week's aberration at Notts County, we have just not scored enough goals. A quick look at the league table (GF column) will bear this out. And the reason? Do not blame the strikers, they are simply not getting any kind of service from midfield.
I'm not of the 'Pardew Out!' opinion. Yet. But it is blindingly obvious that he has got to solve the midfield conundrum immediately if we are to have any interest in the rest of the season - which is a frustrating thing to say in October! Failure to do so is guaranteed to hasten the calls for his departure. And that would be correct because the malaise is due to a failure to manage the team effectively. I admit to being a Caskey fan. But maybe, for whatever reason, he had to go. Fair enough. But one thing I do know is that you don't lose a player of that quality without replacing him. And James Harper never has been, and never will be a Caskey replacement ! We need a playmaker in midfield to provide quality balls to the front line. If we do this - we have quality strikers - the goals will return. On Saturday and against Swindon showed a complete absence of midfield participation when we are in possession. Nobody wants the ball, nobody knows what to do with it if it unfortunately comes their way. Result; aimless punts to the front two who don't have a hope in hell against big defences to get the ball under control and create a decent chance near goal. So until we change things in midfield and get a quality playmaker it is unlikely that things will improve. Since it is glaringly obvious what is needed Mr Pardew must know it (after all that is what he's paid for), and therefore he must make a change quickly now by giving up his blind, fanatical loyalty to Harper. Drop him. Change things and if financially possible bring in some quality to the midfield. The managerial mistake has already been made in not replacing Caskey. If he doesn't and persists with the existing midfield compost his position will become untenable and we'll be lucky to achieve mid-table mediocrity this season. Appalled & dreadfully disappointed.

-- Kirk - London Royals

Saturday was the first time EVER at The Mad Stad that I approached the game thinking we would lose. I hoped that two away wins may well have seen us play better football and maybe it was the start of this 'Run' that the players and Pardew keep talking about. What I witnessed as a dedicated Reading fan made me feel sick to the stomach.
We cannot at the moment play basic football.
We don't close players down early enough
We don't mark players properly
We don't win enough tackles
We don't compete atall a lot of the time
We don't make off the ball runs to allow players to make good passes
We don't look interested
We do argue with each other about who should have marked who
We do wait for everyone else to do something with the ball
We do look absolutely awful
Two moments summed up the two teams today.
1) When they scored their second how many chances did we want to clear it? They wanted to score more than we wanted them not to!
2) Rougier gets the ball and goes on a run - 5 Brentford players go to get the ball off him, again they wanted it so much and they clearly weren''t worried about leaving useless Reading players free if Rougier had beaten them.
The team is not playing well because the management team are failing to do the right thing time and time again. Attitude is appalling, tactical ability is zero, even competing is now non-existent. No matter what Parky says in the programme there is a crisis at the club, caused by AP & MA. Let's get them out now get Lawrie Sanchez in and get a good coach who believes in playing people off the park with good football and dedicated professionals.
One final thought - Coppell has transformed Brentford in to league leaders with players of limited ability, Pardew has transformed The Royals in to a dire side with no belief.
HE MUST GO.

-- Crowthorne Royal.

I would just like to point out that on paper and probably on last years evidence you still have one of the strongest teams in the division, certainly going forward anyway. However to say we were rubbish is ridiculous. True, Steve Coppell has without doubt installed organisation & certainly upped the fitness of the players & the squad is more or less the same as last year. However, on saturday we were without virtually our entire regular midfield (Evans, Rowlands, O'Connor ) as well as both fullbacks ( Dobson & Boxall) Most of these have missed the last few games & the 18, 19 & 20 year olds that have come in are playing for the shirt. We haven't spent a penny this season again (Uncle Ron wants out & his money back ) & I think the team spirit of the six or seven regulars with two or three years service was there to see & it rubs off on the kidswhen the team is on form. Credit where it's due though I think. At full strength & if Ben Burgess had been on his usual form we could have had four by half time, but that's life & we didn't hope for more than a point with our weekened side & up against our bogey side.
You've got a great stadium to be proud of & better support than our regular 5,000 hardcore but you're just going through the usual knock on effect of losing the play-off final (we went straight down!) but please give us some credit.
Good luck for the rest of the season, I for one would enjoy another trip to Reading next season, hopefully in DIVISION ONE!

-- Bee-alzibub

I tend to agree with a alot of what is being said about Reading not playing well this season. Results, league position and Saturdays performance proved that. Take nothing away from Brentford though. I can't believe you can call us an average side. Average sides do not win 10, draw 4 and lose 1 from 15 games, beat Norwich, or outplay Newcastle for ninety minutes. Maybe Reading fans aren't aware but we did have three of our best five players out injured, one being our top scorer and captain. What would the score of been had they all played? Maybe it is the manager! Pardew was manager last season wasn't he? Look how close to promotion you were. However being a Brentford fan I don't know the full story, but my opinion is that maybe the players, after going so close last season and being pre-season favourites, feel all they need to do is turn up and you will win.
-- Kempy, Brentford fan

If you don't control midfield you don't control games and if you don't control games invariably you don't win them. Last season the strikers made us look better than we were and in the end they couldn't quite carry us through. This year they aren't and we've got nothing to fall back on. We need a central midfield and a playmaker. Parky and Harper aren't up to it.
We haven't replaced Caskey. It might all be about opinions but as far as I can see this point is simple and indisputable. Yesterday Mahon bossed it for Brentford, we made him look good. I don't see anyone else in the squad good enough and I think the Chairman and Manager need to accept that we've lost better players than we've gained, so why do we persist with the view that the squad's good enough; it isn't. I'm also fed up with the packed away end, good though it is to see them, going away having rubbed our noses in it. It's annoying and the performances are embarrassing. To put it in context, good though the wins were at Notts County and Oldham, we were playing teams in the middle of bad runs, so we should have expected to beat them.
We play top of the table and make them look better than they are. Time therefore to wake up. It's not too late but if we carry on as we are, we're going nowhere. I don't see a new manager necessarily turning it around without some additions to the team. Maybe the loss, and the reasons for it, of Caskey and McIntyre tells us all we need to know about the club's ambition.

-- Chris.

By great luck, I managed to get a seat in the corner of the East Stand (at the North end) with a restricted view, so what with the sun being in my eyes as well I saw mainly snippets of what generally seemed a pretty dull game. It was certainly my least enjoyable visit to the Madejski yet, even less so than the Cardiff league game, because on that occasion we were just off a great run and the expectancy was high. I have now travelled by bus on my three most recent outings and we've lost every time, so I'll be going by car from now on.
My main comment is that the crowd around me turned on the team very quickly when we went 2-1 down, most going silent or calling "Pardew out", then leaving in vast numbers from a good ten minutes before the end. I admit that we weren't looking much like getting something out of the game, but how much help is a crowd like that when your team needs a boost! I do wonder whether we might get more out of the players by getting behind them rather than on their backs every time we're in a sticky patch. Well done James Harper for staying on the pitch to applaud those fans who stayed till the final whistle.
As to the future, I am no tactician, but quite agree with various comments about players doing well individually but not as a team, and my attention would go to the midfield mix. I for one am a great fan of Igoe, not just for his commitment but for his skill and footballing brain - we need him in the team. But we also need to find a midfield general who can control that part of the park and set up the forwards with incisive passing ALONG THE DECK as well as in the air. With the greatest respect to him for his effort and presence, we need to look to replace Parky, who has his limitations as a passer of the ball.
I've mentioned my admiration for Kavanagh and it's someone like him we should look for, in my opinion, who has the engine to link the defence with the attack and the innate skill to select the killer pass.
Come on you Royals!

-- Richard, Newbury Royal

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