Veljko Paunovic felt that we showed our fighting spirit in a 0-0 draw against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. Rafael was superb and made plenty of saves to frustrate Swansea with Andre Ayew having the best chance. Reading didn’t create many opportunities but Tom McIntyre did force Swans goalkeeper Freddie Woodman into a good save.
The Royals remain in the play-offs, just three points behind Swansea in third, and are two points ahead of Stoke in seventh. Paunovic was happy with the performance and Rafael’s man of the match display. After the game he spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.
Paunovic on the performance
“We were organised, we put everything we had into our defensive and attacking plays, we were brave but we were also lucky. We have to acknowledge that they had some very good opportunities.
“We needed Rafael a lot today. He’s the pillar of our defence and I have always have had huge belief and trust in him. He put in a man of the match performance tonight. Tom Holmes and Tom McIntyre, they have waited patiently for their chance and all the work they have put in - tonight is proof that that hard work pays off.
“The whole team put in a great defensive performance. Our fighting spirit and our team identity was there for all to see. We never give up. We always fight until the end. We built our identity on the defensive performances at the start of the season and we are slowly recovering that identity again.
“A very solid point and a clean sheet, it’s a very positive thing for us to come away with – that makes it four points in our last two games and that helps us build our momentum going into the next game which is a very important one for us.”
Paunovic on Rafael
“He was man of the match for me - I was definitely very happy with his performance. It was very important for him and for the team to show what he can do.
“He is the pillar of our defence and it was very important to recover his great performances. The whole team did a great performance in defence and our spirit and identity (shone through).”
Paunovic on Rafael’s injury
“He had a small issue with his calf but that proved he is capable of dealing with adversity and he can recover from certain physical issues. So it’s a huge credit to him and his performance for later in the game.”
Paunovic on Rafael bouncing back from mistakes
“I always have and had huge belief and trust in Rafael and I never doubted him for any second. I don’t want to bring up the past or his past performances. I was never upset with his performances and I always knew he would help the team when we needed him. We needed him a lot tonight.
“We were organised and we were brave, also lucky, and together with the great performance from the defence and Rafael that’s the summary. 0-0, clean sheet is very positive. It’s another game unbeaten, four points in two games and looking very, very promising recovering Richards, Swift, Joao and more players.”
Paunovic on finishing 2020 in top six
“I’m very proud, especially proud of the group of people which I have found here. We’ve built a great team spirit and identity and it looks very positive moving to 2021. It was a hard year for everyone so I want to wish everyone all the best in 2021 and good health and stay safe.
“We are still in a war with an invisible enemy and we have to be careful moving forward. I’m very happy for the team and I think there is a bright future and bright year coming for Reading FC.”
Paunovic on transfer latest
“There is no update. We are looking at free agents and possible loans. Brexit is going to affect a lot of our possibilities. We will see. Our scouting department is doing huge work and we will see how we can intervene in the market.”
Paunovic on Olise’s release clause
“We have to be very careful talking about contracts. There is always confidentiality involved and if there is anyone releasing that information they need to be careful. Michael is in the right and best possible place for his career. We want him to be with us for a long time and hopefully together in the Premier League.”