The Royals picked up their first victory since November in a 3-2 win against Preston North End at Deepdale. This was not the biggest news of the day, as we learned after the game that Veljko Paunovic had mutually agreed to leave the club with immediate effect.
It’s not been an easy time for the manager with points deductions, no money to spend, transfer bans, countless injuries and a Covid-19 crisis. Paunovic said he felt proud of what had achieved at the club.
Here is what Paunovic had to say after the game, he spoke to Berkshire Live and the Reading Chronicle.
Paunovic gives his immediate reaction
“The statement pretty much reflects everything. It came to the point where [it was] the best for the club and I’m aware of the things that are happening and the negativity that was surrounding me. I never thought that was fair but I also don’t think at this point, the team needs that. I’m completely unselfish in this decision.
“I want the team to excel and I only want the best for the team, that’s all. I only want the best for the club because I really have a huge respect for the opportunity and time I spent with the club, Mr Dai, Mr Dayong and everyone from our board and people in the club who work day in, day out behind the scenes and give me and the team everything to compete like we did at Preston.
“Therefore, I just wanted to do the best for the club. We got to an agreement. I expect that now everyone aligns with the new manager, supports the team and does what is needed.
“We made huge sacrifices so far and I think that must be paid off and converted in salvation this year for the club and team, and then as a potential resurrection for moving forward in the next 150 years, hopefully!”
Paunovic on whether it was crazy timing?
“We knew coming into the game that this result (a win) may happen so there was no going back. It was contemplated before and whatever happened, it was still the best.
“I don’t know how much the negativity around me will change but that’s why I think it’s best for the club to find somebody that everyone will support.”
Paunovic on how difficult the past few weeks have been
“It hasn’t been pleasant but it’s part of football. You got to take it.”
Paunovic on the players’ reaction
“They were quiet but you should ask them for their opinion. As always, when I work with a group of young people, players, and being a former player helps me empathise and understand their problems. When we agree and don’t agree, and have success and don’t have success, what always prevailed was mutual respect, professionalism and support.
Paunovic on a turbulent 18 months
“The most important thing is that’s behind - the team is now much better prepared, has more options and this win helps the confidence. This is great timing for the team to bite back and re-align the whole culture and tradition the club has.”
Paunovic on this being one of his proudest wins?
“It was a day where we gave our best and fortunately, it was enough to win. It’s a big statement from the team - how we played. We have our strengths and weaknesses but when we minimise the latter, then we can beat any team. That is the strength and something which has to get better in the future.”
Paunovic on emotional wrench to leave
“I am proud of accomplishing and being in line. From the first day, I said I would give my best and this is my best, given all the circumstances and there’s nothing else to say.”
The club confirmed that Paul Ince has taken over as Interim Manager until a full-time replacement has been found. Thank you Pauno and good luck for the future.