If the start of the decade is anything to go by, it is looking like it’ll be a positive end of the season for the Royals after picking up a brilliant three points against promotion-chasing Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Reading took the lead in the first half through John Swift, scoring his third goal in as many games. Charlie Adam continued his fantastic form by getting his second Royals goal early in the second half, although Ivan Cavaleiro scored a consolation for Fulham. We are now 14th in the table, just five points behind Millwall in sixth with a game in hand.
The year couldn’t have started any better for Reading manager Mark Bowen; he spoke to GetReading after the game.
Bowen on the victory
“I’m still pinching myself - it was four clean sheets and three wins on the bounce going into the game but we had to work on it physically and mentally as well. Maybe in the past at half time there would have been a bit of apprehension but I don’t see that in my players.
“They are full of confidence, all working for each other and have a real desire among each other and I think we’ve almost turned a corner. There’s an expectancy and it’s good to see. But if we don’t keep working hard we’ll fall flat on our face. I say that every week. We have a lot of catching up to do and we are getting to where we want to be.”
Bowen on sticking with the same starting 11
“It was more a gamble to change it because people talked about freshening things up but having been on the run we were and we did change things we might have been open to criticism.
“I decided early after Preston to go with the same team keeping an eye on some players, especially in the second half. I wish I could have had six or seven subs. They deserved the chance to keep going. They were gutted to concede a goal and it wasn’t a great one to concede.
“The character shone through in the end, Miazga came on and stopped a certain equaliser. It was only about 30 seconds after they scored I heard their fans. For 94 and a half minutes it was just Reading fans driving the lads on and that fills my heart with pride.
“We have to try and give them a cup run now. I have young lads chomping at the bit to play but we’ll have to see how we go. The guys who have played a main role recently can have a break.”
Bowen on the latest with Danny Loader
“An offer has been made to him and it’s up to him whether he wants to accept it. He’s got the options to see if there is anything out there which is better for him. That’s the problem we have with players in the last year of their contract.
“I and the club are hopeful he signs because he is a young, talented player.
“It’s difficult for him at the moment - Olise and Richards as well - because they train every day and one of the hardest parts of my job is letting the players down when they don’t play.”
Bowen on injuries
“Yiadom - should be back at the back end of January. Puscas - not training with the group but won’t be far away. Joao - judging by his demeanour I imagine it’s cramp (not hamstring).”
Bowen on Liam Moore’s injury
“It’s the same shoulder injury, I think. He landed awkwardly. He’s our skipper, he dusted himself down where a lot of players might have walked off the pitch and said that’s it and left his teammates to get on with it, but not Liam. He keeps going, leading the team.”
Bowen on the transfer strategy for January
“Things can change. Mannone doesn’t want to be a no.2, he wants to be a no.1 so it depends if someone comes in for him or if he stays. Aluko will hopefully be available for selection on Saturday.
“The current squad are proving they are good enough to climb the table and there’s not one of them I would want to change so we’ll see how things go.”
Bowen on Swift and Adam goals
“They were really nice, the first one was like at Preston. We knew we’d soak up pressure but when we played it had to be crisp and sharp. We could have done it a bit better in the first half and in the second for Adam to creep into the space I’m delighted for him.
“We didn’t want to throw it away and we should see it out - it was worrying after their goal went in but the resilience and organisation was brilliant.”
Bowen on Rafael’s late save
“Nearly every game he has pulled off unbelievable saves - his reflexes and the way he is around the place, I am delighted to have him.”
Bowen on keeping the run going
“Everybody is buoyant now and it’s great. I said to the players and my staff ‘enjoy it’ because if you don’t you never will. We’ve got to remain focused and keep going.”
Bowen on Pele, Adam, Swift and Ejaria all shining
“They’re coming into their own because they are bright players. They can interchange and rotate a lot. Players to have that ability, to find the work ethic they’ve got as well is fantastic for us.”
Bowen on Mannone and Aluko
“Mannone came in yesterday and trained. Aluko has had five or six training sessions. He came back in and we had to make sure he was available to go.”
Bowen on Aluko having a future at the club
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen a lot of him because I haven’t worked with him. And he’s coming into a situation where we are a tight squad which is doing well so we’ll have to monitor his situation.”