Our run of not winning at the Madejski Stadium on a Saturday this season has continued after a 2-0 defeat against Millwall.
It was another extremely disappointing performance from the Royals, who had just one shot on target. Leandro Bacuna deflected in a Mahion Romeo cross for Millwall to score their first, and then three minutes later they made it two through Lee Gregory. This was our fourth home defeat in a row.
Jaap Stam definitely had some tough questions to answer after the game, firstly telling the official club website:
“It wasn’t the easiest of first halves - they can play well in possession and also with the presence they have up front, winning balls in the air.
“We asked for the same commitment as they showed at Burton on Tuesday night and we knew Millwall would want to press a bit higher up so we wanted to use the space in behind a bit more than on Tuesday.
“But we also played a lot more direct than we have in previous games - with Yann and Jon Dadi close together up front and Mo around them. But then you have to win your headers, compete for the second balls and play from those second balls to go forward. And, as you saw, it’s still difficult for us to play in that way.
“So at the back you need to get stuck in there to keep that clean sheet. And, at half-time, we went in at 0-0 and we talked about what we could do, what we could change.
“In the second half we started well and created more opportunities by playing the ball.
“We spoke about getting Mo on the ball and into one v one situations and we were a threat going forward through Mo, making a couple of opportunities in front of goal through Mo where we could have scored.
“But then you need to find a player in the box to finish it, which in a crowd is not easy. And we couldn’t do that well enough.
“And we didn’t score the goal we needed and instead concede a goal from a deflection... and you’re 1-0 down.
“At that stage you have to try to get back into the game, but we lost the ball for the second goal and then it’s practically over.
“You’re doing well, getting forward, hoping to score the first goal, but they score that first goal. And it’s a big disappointment.
“As coaching staff, you’re showing the players what you want them to do and have to hope the players can translate it on the pitch. But sometimes the players have to make their own decisions out there too.
“And we’ll keep working hard, believing in what we can do, we’ll change things during a clear week in training, as we have done all season in trying to find a way to get into that winning streak.”
Tyler Blackett had his most difficult afternoon in a Reading shirt after he came on in the first half when Tommy Elphick came off injured. There was plenty of frustration around the stadium, but he definitely did not deserve the reception that he got. He was substituted late in the second half Stam told GetReading:
“It was because of a tactical reason because normally we play with three at the back against the two strikers.
“Then we wanted to bring Jon Dadi Bodvarsson up front with Chris Martin and have Garath McCleary and Mo Barrow on the wings.
“That meant we had to play one v one at the back and we had to take somebody off.”
Stam also had lots to say on his future on BBC Radio Berkshire after the game:
“It is how it is. We all know how it goes. If you want to have an answer you have to ask upstairs..
“You’re always looking at yourself and what you’re trying to do and the players and how they respond to you and what they need to do. We talk to the team, they talk between themselves. The confidence is still there. From what I've heard, the board and the owners, they want to play football from the back. They want to play in a certain way.”
Next up for the Royals is Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon at the Riverside.