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Veljko Paunovic On A ‘Cruel’ Defeat At Middlesbrough

Yet again, Reading lost points in the final few minutes of a game.

Middlesbrough v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

It has been an incredibly tough week for the Royals, and a 95t-minute winner for Middlesbrough summed the last seven days up.

Andy Carroll gave us the lead but Matt Crooks scored two late on to give Boro all three points. News then came after the game at Liam Moore has been stripped of the captaincy.

Manager Veljko Paunovic, who gave his thoughts to the press before the news of Moore, felt football was cruel to the Royals. He spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.

Paunovic on the game

“Today, football was cruel to us. We got a severe punishment at the end after 85 minutes of good performance. Our team brushed the Fulham game off our shoulders and we re-established their spirit and their identity very well – and they showed that today.

“We’re in a difficult position in terms of being able to sustain that workload and that output for the whole game due to the injuries we have in the squad and the fact we have to rotate players into different positions.

“And at the end, we conceded two late goals – and we showed the only aspect of the game that we still can’t control very well. The last five minutes wasn’t good. The mentality and management of the game in the last few minutes let us down. We needed to avoid those mistakes and that is a big fix we have to make.

“But the team play, the spirit, experienced players propelling the performances and dictating the way we played – and the youngsters followed them.

“And everyone after the game was disappointed. The first feeling was one of frustration. It was loud, everyone had to say something about it - things were thrown around the dressing room. But after that energy had been released, we wrapped it up. And we encouraged the guys, telling them that we did really well today.

Paunovic on the fans

“I’m very disappointed for the supporters today. Disappointed that we couldn’t give them what they came for, a reward for giving us their support.

“I was envisioning the game against Cardiff, the games at Fulham and Birmingham and Swansea – although I think we played better today in some of those games. I was hoping this could be a chance for our fans and our players to celebrate together again. We appreciate them coming, we appreciate their support and we will keep fighting.

“Now we have to step up to the occasion. And we need action. We’re going to go into Wednesday night and aim to show an even better performance and chase the points on offer. We’re not going to give up.

“I’m proud of the effort, I’m proud of these guys and we’re going to fight back and fight strong.”

Paunovic on Andy Carroll's last game

“I don't expect that but it's a technical issue as his contract expires today. It doesn't mean he will leave. But in the time he has been with us will definitely give him opportunities and in my conversation with him, I only felt there is a desire from him to remain with us.

“But this is football and an opportunity for him Hopefully he stays and the sooner the better.”

Paunovic on the spirit post-match

“Firstly there was frustration because everyone had to say something about it and throw things around. But after that we wrapped it up and encouraged the guys and said they did well. But there is a big fix we have to make in our mentality.

“It's just much more composure and courage, and avoiding mistakes. The second goal is after an unforced mistake in our backline. It leads to a corner and consequently a few minutes of having to defend our own box.”

Paunovic on the defenders' performance

“They were excellent, especially in the second half until the 85th minute. We had issues in the first half on the left side with Bristow. He was attacked by them and Crooks made some good runs. He wasn't able to fix that until the second half but then he was excellent”

Paunovic on Lucas Joao's return

“That was a positive, but we lost Hoilett so it helps [having Joao back] but you want to add, not swap pieces.”

Paunovic on Michael Morrison nearing a return

“He felt good for the under-23s on Friday and hopefully he can be back for the next match.”

Paunovic on signing Brandon Mason

“We will make a decision on him.”