Last night was arguably our best performance of the season. The Royals continued their amazing start against the best attacking side in the Championship, Blackburn Rovers, and left Ewood Park with a brilliant 4-2 victory.
The game started quickly with Yakou Meite scoring within the first 10 seconds. Adam Armstrong equalised just a few minutes later to make it 1-1. The Royals then took the lead with a great goal by Michael Olise with Josh Laurent adding another shortly to make it 3-1. Armstrong made it 3-2 in the second half but the points were completely sealed through Lucas Joao in the 82nd minute.
This is a completely different side that we have seen over the past couple of years - a side that is exciting and look happy to play for Reading. Veljko Paunovic has done wonders! The Royals remain top, and are now seven points clear of second.
Paunovic on the performance
“I would say that was the most complete performance so far. We were on the front foot from the beginning. We didn’t start so well in the last couple of games, so we addressed that today with three quick goals.
“We scored a very quick first goal, they equalised immediately. But we kept doing our things, we stick to our plan always - and that saw us score two more goals before half-time. At half time, we said that we’d won the first half but we had another win to make in the second half. And we did.
“I’m very content with the performance. The team is not only reacting to what we are asking them to improve, but they are capable of doing it in training and then transferring it to the game. I feel very, very proud of the guys.
“Especially proud because this fantastic result and performance came at this monument of football. This stadium is very known to me since I was young and I was dreaming about playing one day here. But now as a coach, coming here to win with a fantastic team and spirit which we have in our group is unique.
“And that uniqueness is something that we want to keep fostering and cultivating because it’s very important that our players continue with this commitment so far. It’s fantastic and I am full of gratitude to this group and also to all our Reading family.”
Paunovic on the spirit of the squad
“This is a fabulous group with a fabulous spirit. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and keep getting better. To win a game like this, at this monument of football against a Blackburn team who are one of the more offensive teams in the division - with a group of guys who give absolutely everything in every single game. The spirit we have is priceless. I am full of gratitude for everything they are doing so far... and I’m not going to stop demanding things of them.
“The way we won, we played until the end, against a very difficult rival... it is unique. We have to keep that uniqueness and build on top of it. Everything can still improve and that is the culture we’re building here. Now we recover and prepare for Coventry.”
Paunovic on being seven points clear
“I didn’t know that! I’m still not looking at the standings. I’m disciplined in that - I just want to know who we’re playing next, how did they do and get to know as much as I can about them.”
Paunovic on Meite and Ejaria
“Meite - he should be fine for the next game. Ejaria - in the last game we pulled him out because he felt fatigue in his muscle and didn’t want to risk him.
“We’ll see if we can recover him for Friday. We don’t want to take any risks because we know how many games [are coming up]. The stretch is brutal but the team is strong.”
Paunovic on this being the most complete performance
“When you look individually, everyone had a fantastic game. I would give today the best note to the whole team - individually and as a team and in every line.
“The adjustments in the second half were important and the guys who came in - you don’t feel anything changes. And they worked. So far I think that is the right statement. It’s the most complete performance so far.”
Paunovic on being clinical in attack
“We were addressing our defence but we had to connect it with our attack. We do score goals and have fantastic finishers and goalscorers. But we wanted to see them more often.
“We wanted to start on the front foot from the beginning and it’s the work - explaining things and common sense. It’s a common sense which everyone understands and we’re all on the same page.
“We agree on what we try to do and that always helps. We are always communicating things and explaining why we want to do something or say something. Common sense will always help - and then work, putting everything together.”
Paunovic on being surprised with the start
“We always work towards giving our best and having the best expectations from our capabilities. And from the team so far we have seen fantastic performances - winning is always the measure of a performance.
“Boro was a good game and we were very happy despite the result. We always go with our plan and full commitment to win our games. We don’t surprise ourselves when we win.”
Paunovic on confidence and belief
“It’s good that we have the team still growing and getting positive results. The confidence is there but it’s a hard streak we have now. We have to provide our players with the best possible recovery and the win helps for that.
“It helps the mind and triggers the body, and that’s what we have to focus on now as we have another game in a couple of days where we hope to be at our best.”
Paunovic on the fast start
“We always create positive expectations and this action was created from our stuff. It’s great that it worked because it continues to grow the trust and the belief between all the team.
“Starting on the front foot was very important for us especially after a couple of games where we didn’t have good first halves. Today we put emphasis on that and we are so appreciative to our team for everything we propose.
“There is not only a reaction, there is an acceptance and an embracement of the ideas, and then hard work which gets everything to work. We expect always to continue improving and not always going to be nice or great but all we ask is achievable and that’s 100% commitment.”