Reading sent out a message to the Championship after a superb 3-1 victory against Bournemouth at the Madejski last night.
Veljko Paunovic felt that it was our best performance of the season as we continue payback month in the best possible form. Both sides started well but Reading ended up dominating the first half with goals with Josh Laurent, Tom McIntyre and Lucas Joao. I’m sure many Reading fans’ minds wandered back to earlier on in the season when the Royals were 2-0 up at half time against Bournemouth at The Vitality. Bournemouth did come out fighting in the second half, and did get a late consolation through Junior Stanislas.
We are now unbeaten in six and sit fourth in the Championship, level on points with Watford in third and Swansea in second. Stoke are up next for the Royals on Saturday.
Paunovic on the performance
“I said before the game how it was necessary to have the perfect performance, we needed to have everyone at their best to get a result against the team we played tonight. And it happened. It was the perfect performance. I can only applaud the huge, huge effort from the players. Phenomenal. A brilliant game from the whole team.
“In the first half we were playing as a machine. Everyone on the same page, getting back into the team shape, looking to win every single ball, marking tightly and not letting them turn – and in attack we saw fantastic execution from the set plays, the counter attacks... everything.
“The whole first half I thought we played with so much energy, focus, concentration - you can’t ask for more. Humility, hard work, enormous powers of concentration - these are the values of this group.
“And the second half was perfectly imperfect - we defended a little deeper, conceded a bit more possession... not something we like to do, but we defended well. Every single player who stepped on the field and put in that performance – I’m very proud of them all.”
Paunovic on keeping our feet on the ground
“I’m very, very happy for our fans – I believe they would have enjoyed it tonight. Wins like this help the confidence, reassures us that what we are doing is right, shows how well the team is progressing and demonstrates how well we can play - and it helps build the momentum.
“But there is a long way to go and we move onto the next game. We know this is a very hard league to succeed in and we know how easily you can slip from the top spots. So we will keep those feet on the ground because we haven’t done anything. There is a long way to go as I said, but wins like these help a lot.”
Paunovic on the overall display
“The first half was perfect due to executing our game plan to perfection with a fantastic enthusiasm and enormous energy.
“In the second half we did a perfectly imperfect half due to being a bit deeper, conceding more possession which is not something we like to do but it was very effective.
“And we could have scored a couple more goals. Unfortunately, I think we could have prevented their goal, but putting that aside everything else was very good.”
Paunovic on Ovie Ejaria’s injury
“It shouldn’t be for a long time. He got a slap in the eye which provoked blurred vision so he had to come off. He’s being assessed and will see a specialist but I believe this kind of injury is normally treated as a concussion so we have to go through that protocol but hopefully he can be ready for the next game.”
Paunovic on Sam Baldock’s absence
“He felt a groin strain in the warm-up at Preston. That’s one of the few reasons why we only made one sub in that game. He is a great healer and he recovers very quickly from soft tissue injuries so we expect him to be back for maybe the next game.”
Paunovic on whether the performance was surprising
“How can the performance surprise me when we’re working so hard, so much and getting closer to the perfection we had in this game - our approach was always to work towards our goals and prepare the team to have performances like this.
“It didn’t surprise me at all.”
Paunovic on the importance of the result
“Next game is the most important thing. A game like this one helps the confidence and to reassure everything we are doing so far and re-establish the momentum so with all these ingredients we are in a good spot but there is still a long way to go and we have to keep our feet on the ground and knock off games, one by one.”
Paunovic on McIntyre’s display
“I think he had a perfect game. I’m very happy with his progress and together with the team he s humble, always looks for advice, always wants to improve, works hard in training and recovers very well.
“He is very young but like our team, young, hungry and very professional. I’m very happy for him and the whole team.”
Paunovic on the exciting times ahead
“We know this league is very hard and we know how easy it can be to slip from the spots where we are. We will be very cautious, keep our feet on the ground and keep working. I don’t want to expand the expectations of anyone.
“A performance like this shows how well the team is progressing and how good the term can play but we learned our lessons in the past and we’ll be very deliberate with our approach.”
Paunovic on injuries
“We just had Meite and Yiadom back - they will refocus the team in being fitter and stronger than they were before. This is what we’re looking for.
“I’m proud of every single player who came back from injury and slowly but steadily we’re getting back in shape and growing.”
Paunovic on Laurent and Rinomhota
“They are the engine of the team. They are absolutely brilliant in every single game. They are so hard working and they have an amazing winning mentality. They always go forward, always want to win the ball and affect the attack. They execute every task we give them and I’m so proud of them.”