AS you might expect, Jay Spearing looked like he wanted to be anywhere else than facing the press after walking off the field at the Madejski Stadium.
As captain it sometimes falls on your shoulders to explain away a bad performance – but this wasn’t any ordinary blip, and the Scouse midfielder knew it.
Wanderers’ worst defeat in 32 years was, according to Spearing, the low point of his playing career, a sentiment probably shared by the 12 other team-mates who accompanied him on to the pitch.
“Everyone takes responsibility for this,” he said, following the 7-1 massacre at Reading. “We want to apologise to fans who travelled all this way.
“Anything that could go wrong did go wrong but we need to pick ourselves up and try to start again.”
Inevitably, Dougie Freedman has come under major fire from the club’s fans for a result that leaves the Whites four points above the relegation zone.
The Wanderers boss pulled no punches in his own assessment of the performance and said a nucleus of his squad were “not good enough” to win games at Championship level.
But Spearing refused to blame contractual issues that are ongoing with the likes of David Ngog and Zat Knight – two of the starters against Reading – or indeed pin blame solely on the manager for the result.
“This was all about today – not what is going on in the background,” he said. “We came out to play a game of football and nothing went right for us. We hold our hands up – everyone of us, even the staff.
“It’s not all him (the manager). He puts the team out but we are the ones who cross the white line and take full responsibility in what happened. We have got to grow up like men, take it on the chin and move on.”
Asked about calls from a section of fans for the manager to be sacked, Spearing was unequivocal in his support.
“It is the way football is,” he said. “We have got to back the manager. Every single one of us is behind him. We are all a team and have got to stick in together, including the staff.”
Spearing was at a loss to explain how a side that had been unbeaten during 2014 going into the game could be swept aside quite so easily by the Royals.
“We don’t know what happened,” he said. “They came out firing and got the early goal.
“I don’t know what was up with us. No one was on their game. Every single player had a bad day.
“Now we have got to move on. There is no point dwelling on it. Everyone is hurting.”
Spearing was one of the players to acknowledge the travelling fans, throwing his shirt into the crowd at the end of the game.
“It was the least we could do,” he said. “Every time Reading attacked everything seemed to go in. We just weren’t at our best and we take full responsibility.”