We are top of the league! OK, I know it is only the second game of the season, but surely we are allowed to enjoy this for a while! The Royals continued their great start to the season with a 2-0 victory over Barnsley at the Madejski Stadium.
This was our first victory at home since the end of February. Barnsley went down to 10 men in the first half, somewhat harshly, after Michal Helik was given his marching orders after a tussle with Lucas Joao. Finally our persistence paid off after the break through Yakou Meite, before Barnsley went down to nine men. Michael Olise scored a great volley to secure three points.
Paunovic on the victory
“I’m happy with the outcome. But we know it wasn’t that easy – with a good solid team in front of us,
“During the first half, when it was 11 versus 11, it was a very good hustle from both teams – we had to match their intensity, match their style of play.
“We were organised, we were focused, waiting for our opportunity to run in behind. And when we settled, that’s how we changed the game with the red card in that one v one situation, Lucas Joao and their centre back.
“All that came from the spirit within this team. The red card moment came from some fantastic defending from our team inside our own box, and a blocked shot inside the area that came right before.
“The game changed, they changed, we had to adjust in the second half. But it was hard for us, even when they played with ten and then nine players.
“They are a very good team, and I want to congratulate them for what they brought to today’s game. In the end though, we found a way to get there, to score the goals.”
Paunovic on being patient
“Patience was the key. Sometimes teams, when they play against ten or nine players, they start to get frustrated because they go forward, forward, forward and one counter attack can change the game against you.
“That’s when you get in real trouble, that’s what we wanted to avoid.
“We were patient, organised behind the ball and in one of the overloads we created we got the set piece that led to the first goal. And that changed the game.
“In this league, you learn very fast that you sometimes have to wait for your opportunities and not get frustrated. And that’s what won us the three points today.”
Paunovic on Meite’s impact
“I always say the team goes first but because of the team’s effort and consistency we get individual performances.
“He benefited from all the work we put in. It’s the product of the whole team.
“The team wins games. I’m very happy for Yakou - he came back from a small injury and also suspension and he worked very hard.
“I’m happy he had a good game and he increased the competition in the team and that’s what we want to have here.”
Paunovic on Olise’s display
“Michael is maturing very quickly in games. He has to learn in some moments he can be even more effective and take advantage of all his talents and skills.
“The team - and the better and more experienced players - see a fantastic teammate who wants to give his best.
“They needed sometimes to talk to him and give him a poke so he turns on when the team needs him but it’s great to have a player like him.
“He’s a huge presence for the team, the same as everyone else.”
Paunovic on Andy Yiadom’s injury
“He received a knock against Derby. It’s an injury in his knee which will take him out for a considerable time.
“We’re still trying to determine what is going to be the reach of his recovery. It was definitely a bummer for us.
“On the flip side, whoever plays, they’re on the same page. Felipe came in, played 90 minutes on Tuesday and was ready to go today.
“That’s what we preach and ask from our guys. Everyone has to know, you have to be ready to participate when the moment comes.
“This is one of the non negotiables we have - everyone has to be ready when they have the opportunity to perform.”
Paunovic on transfers
“We are active in that but the most important thing is the squad who are working very well and very hard, and with quality.
“They are the ones who matter at the moment.
“We are not complete yet but everyone is engaged and on the same page and we work with the group we have.”
Paunovic on positive start to the season
“We have to stay humble. This is just the beginning and we haven’t done anything.
“It’s a good start but it’s just the start. I don’t want anyone to think this is going to be easy.
“It’s a long season and we have to manage the expectations we are creating.
“I’ll be the first one to say, hey, hold on. I am enjoying things but I am reminding myself it’s only the beginning.
“We have to prove ourselves in every game and throughout the whole season.
“It’s not going to be easy but we’ll give our best.”
Paunovic on new right back?
“We evaluate our situation every day and the squad and if it needs help.
“The depth is important, it’s a long league. We need depth and I am listening and I believe I am a good listener and a good learner.
“We will make decisions on how things go moving forward but we have to increase our depth.”
Paunovic on being top of the league
“I only see our next game, I don’t look at the table.
“We have to understand where we are. We have to manage expectations and take things one game at a time.”