Unrest at Reading as fans protest boss Veljko Paunovic ahead of Preston North End clash

It is safe to say that things are not going well at Reading ahead of their meeting with PNE this weekend.

By Tom Sandells
Saturday, 19th February 2022, 8:00 am

The Royals are in the thick of a relegation battle and are the most out-of-form side in the league.

Couple that with fan protests and there is not much that could be going worse at Reading.

The turbulent times started in the summer as they were handed a six-point deduction for breaching EFL profitability and sustainability rules.

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Reading midfielder John Swift.

On Wednesday, they faced fellow strugglers Peterborough United, who occupy the final relegation spot, and their 0-0 draw kept the Royals two points outside of the drop zone.

Fans blocked the club’s team bus from leaving on Wednesday, as well as a few hundred fans staying behind inside the stadium to call for the manager to leave.

Defender Andy Yiadom was videoed after the game talking with supporters, trying to explain their situation and apologising for it.

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Boss Veljko Paunovic was not much for talking after the game, with all questions regarding his future met with no comment.

“I stood up for the call to carry this project forward and I am doing my best,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be hard with deductions and embargoes, and we have had to deal with a lot of setbacks.

“We are disappointed we didn’t get all three points because we were close, but our first clean sheet in a long time is a positive to build on.

“Every single one of the players gave their best. There was a lot of people bleeding and exhausted, which tells you how much everyone cares and gives their best.

“We showed grit – we showed something that maybe in the past was missing. The team fought very hard.

“There was a maturity in our approach, especially in the first half when we dealt with a lot of pressure. We had to be patient in the second half and that patience brought us situations in which we had opportunities. I think the team needs unity, togetherness and support.”

Reading are not without quality – players such as John Swift and Ovie Ejaria have shown before at this level what they are capable of.

They also signed winger Tom Ince on loan in January and bolstered their ranks this week with the permanent signing of Brandon Barker, who spent a season on loan at PNE which included a brilliant solo goal against Leeds United.

Swift, despite the Royals’ struggles, is leading the way with an impressive start to the season in spite of his side’s troubles. He has nine goals and 11 assists from midfield and having been linked with moves away in the past, this may be his final season with the Royals, particularly if they were to be relegated.

Stopping his influence will be the key for PNE who should be looking to twist the knife into a side that have been struggling to find form.

It could be the perfect springboard to PNE finding some home form after recent draws.

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