The pressure is on! The Royals suffered their second defeat at St Andrew’s this season with a 2-1 defeat against Birmingham City. Lee Bowyer seemed to have had a positive effect on the home side with Reading all over the place. Lukas Jutkiewicz’s header gave Birmingham the lead. The Royals slowly got into the game with Yakou Meite scoring just before half time to take us in level. Harlee Dean scored the winner in the second half to give the blues an important three points.
With Barnsley winning against Wycombe, Reading now sit sixth, with Bournemouth just two points behind. We have nine cup finals ahead of us in what looks like an exciting and stressful end of the season! Veljko Paunovic was less than impressed with his sides display and felt we were our own worst enemy. He spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live after the game.
Paunovic on the performance
“Mistakes like today happen. But it cannot happen again. Today we showed an image of ourselves that we haven’t seen before. We were our own worst enemies. And I don’t want to see it ever again.
“I didn’t like how we started the game and I didn’t like how we finished the game. Yes, we saw glimpses of our style of play, and we responded and were capable of levelling the game, but I still felt like there was a lack of end product, a lack of final pass.
“We didn’t have edge today, we didn’t have that drive, we didn’t have that desire in periods of the game tonight. And I feel big, big pain this evening. It was hard today, playing against a team who are fighting for their lives, fighting to save their season. But we knew that, we spoke about that and we prepared for that.
“Unfortunately we didn’t apply the non-negotiable in our game which is you have to give everything...especially at this stage of the season. We only started to give everything when it became complicated for us.
“I know that our team is capable of better. I know that our team has the character to play until the end. But you cannot wait to play like that as a reaction. You have to play until the end, but from the beginning!
“Now we have to bounce back like we have a number of times already this season. We don’t have time to wait, to regret or think about the past. Nine games left and it will go fast. The urgency has to kick in to everyone.
“I want to see urgency from our team, right from the start on Saturday and from now until the end of the season. We have a great opportunity, which we created for ourselves. We have to own that opportunity, protect it and we have to make it realistic. We have to feel it.”
Paunovic on the reason for complacency
“It’s nostalgia, maybe, that still exists but it’s not acceptable. I know our team is capable of better, has the identity and character to play until the end, but you don’t want to put yourself in a problem and then have to react.
“You have to play until the end - but from the beginning, you have to impose yourself. You can lose a game, but the hunger and drive has to be there.
“At some points of the game, we didn’t have it. But this team is capable, I truly believe and 100% I have the best group, the best team, the best players in the league and I truly believe we will bounce back again like we’ve done already several times in the past.
“This is the first image I have seen of this team and I don’t want to see it ever again.”
Paunovic on the difficulty in breaking down teams
“We did it against Coventry and Sheffield Wednesday but until you break them are you able of sustaining the pace, the mentality and push until you push them over the cliff. You can’t allow teams anything and we have to get back to that.
“We know how to win these games so that’s why I am more upset - because we didn’t apply that tonight. This is a very good group and I believe we will bounce back. You can’t lose time and you can’t rely on time.
“We have nine games left, urgency is everywhere, all the teams are fighting for their goals so you can’t go into the war thinking it’s going to be all right and just show up.”
Paunovic on the pressure of chasing pack
“We are doing a good job to protect the team from looking back. We are pushing the team to look forward and to close the gap in front of us. We still have to do a better job but it’s definitely the direction where we have to look. If somebody is doing the opposite then that’s probably not good.”
Paunovic’s message to players at full time
“The message is that there’s no time to waste and no time to regret - only time for reaction and what you can do for the team. This team did a lot for individuals - a lot of people benefited. The media were talking about them and everyone was excited about the team and players - that was because of the team.
“Now it is time to pay back to the team - the same individuals and I include myself in that group. All of us have to be on the same page and regroup, and do something for the team. The team needs to win.”
Paunovic on not using Esteves, Aluko or Baldock as subs
“It’s an option - we opted for a different option but it’s good to have everyone and options, always, so there you are.”
Paunovic on chances created
“I think we didn’t create enough chances and it was down to a lack of clarity in the final third, a lack of movement and we needed more desire to win the game.”
Paunovic on QPR on Saturday
“Every game is a must win game.”