Reading are in a state of disarray.

The season ultimately ended in frustration for Royals supporters after another 46 games plagued with the same inconsistencies that we have seen hamper the progress of the club in recent seasons.

Some of the players have appeared disillusioned with the direction of the club and fans have been disillusioned with the performances of the players.

The club has, albeit I believe subconsciously, sleepwalked and allowed an acceptance of mediocrity to seep deep into the core of the club.

With the exception of Jaap Stam’s first campaign, Reading’s recent season have been – essentially – Groundhog Day.

The players say the right things before the campaign gets underway, a relatively promising squad on paper is assembled and then, slowly but surely, the season unravels and leaves Reading looking over their shoulders in the latter months of the campaign and fans being angry with the lack of progress on the pitch.

Many Reading fans have become frustrated with the performances, especially at home, and have begun to examine just how effective Mark Bowen has been as a manager.

Firstly, everyone is equally as entitled to their opinions and viewpoints as I am. Of course, that is what makes the beautiful game the one we love.

In post-match interviews, I do genuinely get the impression that Bowen shares the frustrations of the supporters.

Having interviewed a fair few managers over the last year – Mark Bowen does come across as an honest and critical manger.

He has also not been helped by losing the focal point of his attack and preferred style of play for the majority of his tenure.

It is no coincidence that Reading have looked brighter with Joao leading the line. He completed the jigsaw last season and, you would hope, will continue to be a massive player for Bowen next season moving forward.

But this does not really excuse Reading looking lost at times – playing wayward and lazy forward balls to the helpless George Puscas or Sam Baldock who, at times, looked completely out of their comfort zone playing in such an unfamiliar system that does not suit their individual strengths.

Why Bowen has persisted for so long with this system is certainly a criticism from supporters that I think is more than a justifiable one.

His reluctance to adapt his game for long spells consistently is very frustrating for supporters.

Just look at how well Reading performed against Luton. That is what can be achieved when you adapt your starting XI and game plan specifically and, lo and behold, Reading reaped the rewards.

But, when Plan A is not working or the players Bowen has at his disposal ahead of a particular game does not suit Plan A, then a much more coherent and well-drilled Plan B needs to be deployed.

If Bowen fails to show his ability to adapt going into next season, that is when I think decisions will have to be made.

But, chopping and changing and facing another rebuild under another manager is the last thing the club needs.

The manager needs to continue the mass exodus we’ve seen get underway in recent days with the departure of Jordan Obita, Chris Gunter, Garath McCleary, Tyler Blackett and Charlie Adam.

Bowen will obviously need to re-jig his plans that perhaps were in place pre-lockdown given the lack of expendable finances available to him and the club.

I think, however, smart recruitment of loanees, young, exciting talent from both the academy and the lower divisions alongside astute free agents with a point to prove could allow Reading to move forward this summer, despite the projected mass departures of some of the higher paid first team stars.

Recruitment and decisions made above Mark Bowen, however, appear less justifiable to me than the shortcomings of the manager.

Let us examine the situation with the loan and out-of-contract players at the end of the season.

 At a time when penny-pinching is, essentially, the order of the day – to extend the contracts of certain players who were never going to make much more of an impact for the club seems completely at odds with the dialogue we’re now hearing from the club.

Lucas Boye, Ayub Masika and Garath McCleary are three of those players that are cases in point.

The former two never really settled at the club – or certainly never made the impact that was hoped of them.

Sometimes, that is just the way football goes. I would never say that either Boye or Masika lacked effort, enthusiasm or energy whilst playing for the club, but to put it basically – it just didn’t work out.

Frustrating, yes. Forgivable? Also, yes. Sometimes signings, especially loanees, do not work. They do not have the required time to adjust to a new system, league and country.

But why were they both extended? Why did Reading decide, despite huge financial constraints, to pay for players who could have returned to their parent clubs at no extra cost to the club?

Where was that decision made? How much money was wasted on players who were never going to be here next year – and never really benefited the team when they played?

And with McCleary, he was on a high wage at Reading. By no means is that a criticism of him as a person, that is what he was offered and that is what he accepted. You cannot say fairer than that.

He was also well within his rights to accept the contract extension to remain at the club until the end of the year.

My question would be, was he ever going to stay at the club next year? I highly, highly doubt it.

 That, again, is fair enough. He was a loyal servant to Reading and whatever you make of his performance level, remained committed to the club.

But why was he kept until the end of the season? Is he still good enough to feature for a Reading side pushing forward – I would say not.

So, we should not have been looking at extending the deal in the first place.

Even if the club were not going to, why keep him? Why not save the money? Why continue to reward a player who, with all due respect, is not playing at the same level he was when he signed the deal?

Why not reward a young player with McCleary’s spot in the team, especially when safety was assured?

It is a decision that does not make sense financially and it does not really make sense in footballing terms in the long or the short term.

The same could maybe be said of Charlie Adam, although I do believe his quality off the bench deserved an extension for the remaining games after his initial deal expired.

These are relatively minor points in the grand scheme of things, but they point towards an alarming lack of direction that has plagued the club for a number of years.

Managerial changes that require an adoption of an entirely new style of play and new personnel, recruiting players who always seem to require time to adapt to the club’s philosophy and style of play.

The reason it has taken so long to adapt to the philosophy and style of play, put simply, is because it has been remarkably unrecognizable in recent seasons.

Off the pitch, look at situations such as the plans for Royal Elm Park. A grand proposal aimed at improving the surrounding areas and breathing new life into the Madejski Stadium.

Plans which, despite looking exciting on paper and receiving planning approval, have quietly been reduced to a thing of the past with no real explanation from the club.

Contract deals in general, well - you could write a dissertation about the mistakes Reading made under former chief Ron Gourlay.

Deals which not only risked jeopardizing the financial integrity and sustainability of the club but rewarded average players on soaring salaries for the sake of securing a signature.

Reading are feeling the impact of these decisions now.

The finances at the club are in an abhorrent way. Sustainability has been a word that does not appear to have been murmured at the Madejski for a number of years.

I am expecting to see a mass exodus at the club this summer and, personally, I cannot wait.

The current crop of players, with a few notable exceptions, have under-performed, under-achieved and disappointed for far too long.

And players over the course of the last few years been rewarded for mediocrity with bumper, long-term deals with bewildering frequency.

The deals have often led to a lack of commitment, effort, drive, and enthusiasm.

Understandably so - when players have not really needed to fight for their future, where is the motivation to do so?

Reading have been a soft touch and an easy pay packet for too long.

This summer presents a ready-made opportunity to effectively press the restart switch and come out next season as a driven, motivated, young and hungry side eager to improve on the consistent inconsistencies that have plagued the club in recent years.

Let us just hope this happens. Or the club could face some serious difficulties next season.