On the day that Reading Football Club celebrated its 150th Anniversary, the Royals suffered their eighth defeat in a row against Coventry City at the Madejski Stadium. With plenty of ex-managers and ex-players in the stands watching on, how we wished that some of them were able to give us a helping hand to pick up three points!
It started well for the Royals with Lucas Joao giving us the lead, but Dominic Hyam scored just before half time to make it level. The visitors took the lead just after the break through Michael Rose. Andy Yiadom levelled for Reading with hopes of being able to get a winner. Junior Hoillet was sent off after two bookable offences though, and 90 seconds after he received his red card, Coventry scored the winner. The highlight of the day was the return of Yakou Meite.
With results going out way again, and we remain 21st with Peterborough up next. Here is what Pauno had to say, he spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.
Paunovic on the game
“After a good first half in which we had the lead, it was unbelievable how we conceded such a naïve goal in the last minute of the first half. Our mentality in that moment wasn’t right. We could have stepped up and blocked the shot better, we could have protected the goal from the shot better – but we lost our urgency and that changed the mood of our team.
“We addressed that mood at half-time, but we conceded a poor, poor goal from a set piece at the start of the second half. The team came back though, scoring from a set piece ourselves and we were playing some good football. But the two yellow cards changed the game once again in their favour.
“We conceded a goal immediately after which was completely avoidable and unacceptable, giving the ball away due to overplaying, overthinking in our back line.
“Given the circumstances, the team fought back with one man down – we had chances, we pushed forward and the courage from the players was good. The team respected the plan, the structure was coming back, the physical output was good – we matched their output even though we only had ten men for the last half an hour.
“The team didn’t give up and we came close – Yakou made a great comeback, imposed himself on the game and, after eight months injured, it looked today as if he hadn’t missed a minute. And his breakaway, though his own individual play down the right and his cross for Tom Ince, that was the moment in the game.”
Paunovic on the current situation
“We are in a difficult situation. And only working hard, keep improving our game, keep fixing our mistakes through togetherness, that is the only way it is going to change. We keep fighting.
“I’m a professional. I respect our fans, who were fantastic today turning up to support the team in their numbers, and I know this has to be better for them. We understand there is a lot of frustration, a lot of negativity. But the only way out is to believe in ourselves, to support each other, to work hard and to keep the togetherness.
“So my only focus is on helping this team. And nobody is going to give up. We have a very big game on Wednesday now. It is the game of the season so far for us. We are challenged and tested to the maximum.
“We have to give our best and show our best possible performance – not just good fitness, not only good tactical work and good shape, it is also about managing those critical moments.”
Paunovic on Hoilett’s red card
“Both were yellow, probably. I don’t think we have complaints at this moment. They did a better job than us (managing yellow cards). It’s the first red card since I’ve been here and it wasn’t straight, it was two yellows - but that’s not an excuse. They managed their yellows better so they beat us on that side too.”
Paunovic on his future
“There is no need to answer that. If someone has to happen, it’ll happen. We need to understand, whoever is here, to change this situation he has to do his best, day in, day out.
“They need to ask, in my case, have I done my best today and given the team what they need on the mental side, or tactical side? That’s the approach we need. We need an openness to fix mistakes and people who want to push forward and fight back.
“I don’t like to say that because there is no time, unless you take advantage of that time. Everything must be done immediately and that’s what we want to do here.
“We need to stay away from negativity and whatever is happening around. It is my responsibility and I feel very sorry at some point I let certain things happen and provoked so much frustration and negativity around us and myself, but I understand that.
“I know how football is and I’ll keep looking to fix it and change that, but most importantly for the team. And then I need everyone on the same page. I need the team to play like they did today. The team follows the plan, structure was good, fitness wise was a huge improvement as we expected in February.
“There are people coming back. Take away the mentality and the situation but the team had strong structure, a performance like last season where we did well and that’s what we will look to recover. Once certain people are back, that helps.”
Paunovic on letting things happen
“I don’t want to be specific about it because we have to move forward. We have to look at what we can do now. It’s the overall situation, starting with the Kidderminster game. All the consequences after that and what led us to that situation.
“I don’t want to be specific because that will mean opening up conversations which are not needed because we can’t do anything about them. We need to move forward. I was just trying to acknowledge and look to do better.”
Paunovic on reports that players wanting a change in manager
“I’m not commenting on rumours. I’m pretty clear, as long as I am here, I am here. I also saw how the team played today and I saw senior players playing well.”
Paunovic on Meite’s return
“We wished he could have started. He’s been injured for more than eight months. He beat the expected time to return to play because he worked very hard. He’s a positive guy who’s helping the team so much with his mentality but this was his first game. The injury he had is a tricky one. There is a one in three chance of getting reinjured in the first six months so we have to be very careful.”