I think it is fair to say that Mark Bowen is beginning to win Royals fans around, after picking up 10 points from his four games in charge.
Finally, chants of Bowen’s name rang around the Madejski after picking up three points against a struggling Luton Town. In a very similar game to last week, the Royals went in at half-time 2-0 up, with goals through Michael Morrison and Ovie Ejaria. Garath McCleary came on in the second half and scored a typical McCleary goal to secure the points.
We have now won our last three home games, and are unbeaten since Bowen has taken over. We are in a good place going into the international break, which hasn’t been said for some time!
Bowen on the win
“There are two sides to this game. When you’ve got the ball and when you haven’t got the ball.
”And we always felt that if we got the other side of the game right, if we were on the front foot when they’ve got the ball, then our quality would shine through when we’d get into attacking positions. And that’s what happened today.
“We were on the front foot from the first whistle, played the percentages, won second balls and made it very difficult for them to play. And then when Swifty or Ovie or the strikers got on the ball we created chances.
”To a man, I thought my players did a fabulous job.
”When a new manager comes in, especially a manager like me with all the enthusiasm I have, sometimes you can give them too much information. You wonder if they’re going to take it all on board.
”But today, we saw that every little thing we’ve asked them to do as individuals, they did.
”And as well as me talking too much to them, I am conscious of keeping my mouth shut sometimes and I had an ear open to the conversations between the players in the dressing room. And in and amongst themselves, they are saying the right things.
”I said last weekend that the pressure we came under against Millwall would stand us in good stead and I was proven right today. Luton had 15 minutes of pressure in the second half but our shape was right defensively and Rafael had hardly anything to do. And then Garath McCleary scores a third to put the result out of sight.”
On McCleary’s comeback goal
“I am delighted for him. I brought him back into things more to just get the feel-good factor back - bringing him and Gunter back.
“I see him in training and the professional he shows - he is never sloppy, he does things right and I tell my players of course Saturday is important but they earn the right to be in the team if they do those things correctly during the week.
“If they are just relying on a Saturday then they have to be very good on a Saturday. If they’re not, they won’t be in my team.
“A lot has been said but for me he has come in and done brilliantly.
“People saw him as a winger but he is an intelligent player. He can problem solve when the game is going on so putting him on for Ovie - I put him in there and he was a real threat for us.”
On Swift’s impact
“We were under a bit of pressure for 15 or 20 minutes in the second half and in my mind that was a period which coincided with Swift not being on the ball.
“We got the goal and he then got back on the ball and I felt more comfortable because we were more in control.”
On a valuable clean sheet
“It’s massive. That is the icing on the cake. When the third goal went in you’re thinking the game is won so you need to see it out.
“All defenders want to get a clean sheet. In Moore, Miazga and Morrison I have three leaders at the back.
“The advice and pressure they’re putting on their teammates to do things right really matters.”
On his half-time team talk
“I was thinking if they did score early in the second half it could be a long 10-15 minutes so it was a relief to see Garath’s goal go in.”
On Obita’s injury
“Jordan felt his groin on Thursday. Possibly he should have come out straight away but he carried on and at the end of the session he said it could be a bit more than a strain.
“I’m hopeful it’s not a lengthy one.
“Special mention for Omar Richards who I thought was outstanding. Everyone knows he is good going forward but he went into tackles which he wasn’t favourite for and won them.
“He sprinted back into position numerous times and he did all the things which fill me with pride.
“It’s a good dilemma to have now because I have two top class full-backs.”
On winning the fans over
“I won’t lie when I came in, I know what I’m about. I was a bit hurt but it’s gone now.
“Days like today, when the rain is pouring down, and the fans behind the goal are singing non-stop, it gives me a glow.
“It’s just the start, but I know that if we go and lose the next three games we are back in it, so we’ve got to use this as a platform to keep climbing the table. I’m delighted for the staff, the players - everybody.”
On the international break
“Now we’ll regroup, have a good rest - because we need it, both mentally and physically.
”The players will spend some time with their families, switch off. Because every day we have been asking them to give their all. But then when they are back on Wednesday, we’re at it again.
”We haven’t done anything yet. We’ve had a good start, but that’s all it is. Taking a look at that table - it doesn’t fill me with pride yet. We want to keep climbing. And if we get things right, we can give anyone in this league a game.”