The last game before the international break finished in disappointing fashion with a 2-1 defeat for the Royals against Norwich City.
It’s not been a good week, just picking up one point over the past week so frustrations are running high, and it didn’t get much better when the Canaries scored early on through a great free kick. But, the Royals equalised shortly after with Liam Moore after a good delivery from Sone Aluko. Norwich took home all three points after poor defending from Tyler Blackett when he lost Cameron Jerome from a corner and he easily headed home.
Manager Jaap Stam was frustrated to concede two goals from set pieces, he told the official club website,
“I can understand the fans are frustrated, and I’m sure I don’t need to say how we are feeling.
“Defeats ruin my weekend just like they do the supporters’ weekend. It ruins my week to be honest... right up until the next game!
“I have a mentality where I am always thinking about football, always thinking about the game, what happened, what we can all do differently to help the players achieve better results - that’s how I analyse every game.
“We spoke about how to start the game - we knew they were going to be pressing us high to try to play those balls in behind - but we kept playing in short too much and, in doing that you give them opportunities. We lost a couple of balls and then we concede a free kick from when they score their first goal.
“Then you need to get back into the game and fortunately we did that very quickly with Liam Moore’s equaliser.
“And, after that, you see that drive. We were going forward more, we were a threat in behind their defence and that gave me a good feeling at half time.
“We talked at half-time about what we can do to improve, and we started well in the second half as well, looking to go forward.
“But we conceded the second goal, again from a set piece, same as at Millwall on Tuesday night - and by conceding goals like this you make it very difficult for yourselves.”
I don’t need to remind people what a difficult start to the season it has been. A complete contrast to last season, in which we have been completely found out from last year. But Stam is trying to look for the answers at how we can return to that great form, he added:
“Everybody knows what we can do. Looking back at what happened last season, everybody knows how we can play, we all know what these players can do, we all know what they’ve done in the past... so the question is why is it not working right now?
“And that is what we are looking at all the time, talking about. It’s not working yet, we’re not playing up to our standards yet, and although we didn’t play badly, we know we must still improve.
“Last season we would have had that little bit of luck, the goalkeeper was in the right position to make that decisive save, or we managed to score that late goal ourselves. And sometimes, without playing very well, we had three points.
“Late on tonight, we got an opportunity with Bodvarsson and then Gunter hitting the crossbar, but it didn’t go in.
“The only thing we can do is try to turn that luck around and by believing in ourselves and working hard. We need to stick together and believe in what we can do.
“And there is always that need to improve. Everybody knows we need to step up, we need to be better in certain situations, we need to make the right decisions at the right time. Last season, more often than not, the players were making the right decisions. But right now it’s going against us.
“The results will come. Sometimes you just need that win to give you the confidence. And we have some very big games coming up and a result against one of them can change everything, can give the players the confidence that they can beat the best teams in this division.”
After last weeks comments, Stam has been a bit more reserved about saying what he really thinks, but when talking to Ady WIlliams on BBC Radio Berkshire, he felt that his job wasn’t under pressure, he said:
“No, you know there’s pressure. So eventually if you’re not winning games, there’s always going to be people start to talk about your job. If people think they can get a better manager that is better for the team, then they need to make a decision, that’s fine but I don’t think there is. That’s a joke of course, but that’s how it goes.
“It’s about getting results, and if you don’t get results people will start talking about what do we need to do with this manager, is he good enough, can he change the team? I’ve been there as a player myself. That’s how it goes. That’s the risk of being a manager.”
So, I feel like the International Break has come at a good time, but the games are not going to get easier as next up for the Royals is a trip up to Elland Road to face Leeds United.