The dust has now settled on yesterday's result at the Madejski Stadium.

The draw with Swansea City has ensured that the Royals will be playing Championship football next season, despite spending the majority of the campaign within the top six positions.

The disappointment of Reading fans on social media was tangible after the result.

This being said, there was a general acceptance that the downfall of the season in recent weeks meant that it very much was a case of when and not if the season would fall short.

I would argue that despite the understandable frustration, suggestions that Veljko Paunovic isn't the man to take the club forward are short-sighted and unfair on the manager.

By all means, he isn't exempt from criticism and has accepted that he has made mistakes. 

Some of the tactical decisions, especially substitutions, have been baffling to me and even seemed counterintuitive at times.

I've also been frustrated by a lack of urgency when chasing the games. 

I've felt that many times it's been a case of too little, too late for Paunovic to be proactive on the sidelines and make changes to the approach that may have been risky but could have reaped more rewards as a result.

It is important to remember that plenty of factors have made Paunovic's job very tricky this year.

The manager has not been helped by fatigue within the relatively small squad and a constant bombardment of injuries to integral parts of the side.

With financial constraints meaning Paunovic's hands were tied in the transfer market, he wasn't exactly blessed with the opportunity to reinvest and add the strength in depth that could have proved crucial in the second half of the season.

With key players missing for lengthy spells, it would be unfair to not take this into account when you look at the bigger picture across the 44 Championship games so far.

John Swift is a good example as a case in point. The midfielder offers something different to anyone in the Royals squad.

I'd liken him to an NFL quarterback. His vision, long-range passing, delivery and efforts from dead-ball situations and ability to quickly move the play through the thirds is something that been sorely missed.

Even if Swift had been fit for half of the games this season, one could argue that the play-off bid would have still been alive and kicking.

As a result of the aforementioned injuries, it has led to an over-reliance on some of the key players, most notably Lucas Joao, which has severely impacted the form since the turn of the year.

Joao's goals at the start of the campaign helped catapult the side to unexpected heights and without the forward's 19 league goals, any semblance of a promotion bid would have been dead in the water a long time ago.

Joao's performances have dipped. The swagger and supreme confidence he displayed at the start of the season has slowly dissipated away, with the striker clearly lacking the clinical streak that propelled Reading's fortunes at the start of the season.

Frustratingly, the options for Paunovic to call upon to take the load off of Joao have looked threadbare.

Puscas has had good moments and goals from Meite have helped, but the lack of Joao's undeniable quality when his form has dipped has been a massive issue for the Royals.

I do not want to come across as solely blaming Joao for the goals drying up, by any stretch.

It is the nature of football for players to go through peaks and troughs in form and as I eluded to above, without Joao this season would not have been half as exciting as it has been.

More so, I think there has also been an element of players allowing the hype generated by the scintillating start to Paunovic's tenure to consume them.

It is great to see players believing in their ability, of course it is. Rightly so, as well. The team that has taken to the Madejski turf this season possess more individual technical quality than any side for a long time.

But, in games when the Royals have been squeezed and hassled and be made to feel uncomfortable and rushed, all too often these players have not risen to the occasion.

It may be a bit of an over-simplification, but sometimes what you need to see is players going above and beyond - putting themselves about the pitch, willing to fight back and risk taking a few cuts and scrapes for the collective good of the team.

Has this gritty, hard-fought approach been evident in games like Luton away, Birmingham away and Wycombe away, for example? I don't think I'd be in the minority to argue that no, it probably hasn't been.

Not all games require this approach and in games that the side can show off their incredible individual skill and talent, that's when the football has at times been mouth-watering.

But next season, a clear Plan B to cope with teams making things difficult has to be more evident.

Looking ahead to the next season, it is important to remember that despite the obvious disappointment, there are many causes for optimism.

If you'd offered Royals fans a seventh-placed finish at the start of the season, most would have taken it.

Recent campaigns have been a slog. It has been the same issues year in, year out, with a lack of progress being made as the games go by.

Now, Reading have made progress. 

Paunovic has come in and with little to no money and an injury-plagued squad and given Royals fans a reason to dream this season.

Sure, it is not the fairytale end we'd all of dreamed. But, it's been a whole lot more of an exciting season than I had foreseen as I drove up to Derby County on the opening day.

On the other side of the coin, it is also not where I had hoped Reading would finish after such an outstanding opening to the season.

I think you can be proud of the season as a whole but massively frustrated by how the Royals fell at the last hurdle.

Lessons will have been learnt.

It is important to remember that it is Paunovic's first season in England and he has led the club out of what felt like an almost inevitable-feeling bottom third finish to within touching distance of a shot at the Premier League.

If he reflects and learns upon those lessons, who knows what next season could bring.