A win, a clean sheet and the best of all, finally being able to have fans back at the Madejski. It has been a hard time for us all, but the perfect performance and a good atmosphere made it a super Saturday.
Nottingham Forest were the visitors and went down to 10 men after 15 minutes with Ryan Yates being sent off for handball in the box. A penalty was given and Lucas Joao dispatched it to put us 1-0 ahead. Michael Morrison doubled our lead in the second half. Reading sit third, level on points with second-placed Bournemouth and one behind league leaders Norwich City.
Veljko Paunovic dressed up for the occasion to welcome fans back, like he promised, and was delighted to see them at the Madejski for the first time. He spoke to Berkshire Live after the game.
On getting back to winning ways
“I’m feeling great - winning, having the fans back and playing a good football, making everyone remember this day as a special moment and getting a win with a solid performance is fantastic.
“I’m very happy because of the team recovering the form - we’re still consolidating though due to some physical issues with some players, but expecting most of our injured players to return in the next couple of weeks.”
Paunovic on having fans back
“It was better than I expected. From the moment we stepped on the field at the warm-up, I felt the warmth, support and eagerness of our fans and their readiness to support our team. It was fantastic - it was unique to be honest.”
Paunovic on Michael Olise’s display
“Michael is super talented and he had a very good game. When the team plays well, individuals will pop up and their talent, like in his case. But everyone else had solid performances and their moments on the ball to shine during the game.
“Everyone showed the talent, quality but most importantly why we are all here - to provide a spectacle to our fans and winning games. The performance was the key.”
Paunovic on Olise’s talent
“Michael knows very well we acknowledge his talent and always support him but he has to keep learning. He still needs to grow and has things that he can implement soon in the future and be an even better player. This is what we are encouraging - not to get content with what he is right now but what he can be.
“We all see huge potential in him and having an impact in our club, delivering to the team and to our fans all his talent and capabilities. But we don’t think it is good for him to think he has done something already.
“Being humble, being focused; he loves football, he loves learning and he loves training so he has to give context to all that and that means he has to become a competitor and when he gets to that level, I’m sure everyone is going to be surprised with what he can do.”
Paunovic on the penalty incident
“That changed the game in our favour. From that moment, I felt a challenge to get the most out of it. After we scored, we had a few more opportunities which we had to convert. We lost maybe the focus of why we are here today.
“We started to play a beautiful game, but we weren’t competing and that’s something we fixed at half time.
“After half time we went out with a purpose to win the game and score, and that came soon after. That’s what we have to understand and remind ourselves that we are here to compete.”
Paunovic on change from Wednesday night
“We learned we had to be patient and had to have impact - finish our actions. We had a lot of shots on goal but most importantly it’s a purposeful shot where we want to hit the net, not only the target. That’s the difference.
“We could have scored more today if we concentrated more or control. The chances we missed was over-excitement.
“The one thing that was key was our fans. With them here, the team understood we had to deliver and we couldn’t lose the opportunity to build a new momentum and this helps a new momentum to be built up.”
Paunovic on having fans behind him
“I’m very grateful for the support and the warmth, and the cheer I got from the fans. It was special and unique because it was organic and unforgettable. During the game I wasn’t aware they were cheering my name so in that moment it was very exciting when someone told me. Thank you to the fans for that.”