Another interesting week as a Reading fan ended in positive fashion after the Royals picked up a point in Noel Hunt’s first game as interim manager - against Burnley at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
The stalemate was a hugely positive point and the first clean sheet in the league we have had since December. The result means Burnley cannot beat our points record of 106, but it can be equaled. It keeps us in the relegation zone for now on goal difference, but one point off Huddersfield Town in 19th.
Here is what Hunt had to say after the game; he spoke to the official club website and Reading Chronicle.
Hunt on Reading ending Burnley’s hopes of beating the 106 record
“Burnley are a fantastic side, they’ll be champions later this week and they might share our record come the end of the season. They have Premier League players in every part of the pitch, players who can hurt you. But to limit them to the chances that we did, we did really well. And it could be a big point.
“I wanted the players to play with smiles on their faces, to work hard for each other and to connect with everyone here.
“It’s a special club, to me and many other people. The boys felt that today. It was an unbelievable turnout from the supporters.
“And today’s game was so important. It was more than just a game, it was about a record too. We spoke about the 106 points before the game and we now know we will keep it for another season. We might have to share it still, but I don’t mind.
“It’s about pride for our club. It’s our recent history. And we should never forget that history.
“They always say that records are there to be broken – well thankfully now it won’t be broken this season.
“The boys all know how much the record means to the club and the town. And it’s not just about that team that achieved it. It’s about the football club. It’s our record. And we weren’t ready to give it up.”
Hunt on the performance
“I felt we had relatively good control – barring Benson getting in on goal that once in the first half. But after that we looked pretty solid. I could hear the boys talking to each other, which let me know they were all in the game.
“Joe has pulled off that great save, that’s what good goalkeepers do. And I was buzzing for him – a clean sheet for him and the back four, the whole team in fact, it’s a massive plus.
“At the other end, we had six or seven opportunities where we could have gone and finished the attack in behind their defence and with a little bit more luck and a little bit more details, we could have hurt them, so we’ll look at the videos and see how we can improve on that ahead of Luton on Wednesday night.
“The team talk was about taking it all in. Take in the crowd and give them something to cheer. Give them something to roar for. And they did I felt.
“I’ve seen these players in training over the last few days and I can see what they can do. They just have to believe in themselves, play forward and get the shackles off.
“For me, I’ll take in this game tonight. I’ll watch it back, look for ways in which we can improve. And in terms of teamwork, effort, heart and desire, the discipline they showed in keeping what is a different shape for them, I can’t fault the players today. They did everything that was asked of them today.
“For the boys, I’ve told them to go and enjoy the point tonight and spend some time with their families tomorrow. Those moments are precious. But it’s just the first step in this small journey. And we go to work on Monday. And everything we do from that moment is geared towards Wednesday.”
Hunt on youngsters
“They’ve been slogging it away all season and we’ve got a light senior squad, in terms of who we have available with a lot on the treatment table. It was about getting legs around them, because they’ve put their bodies through it every week.
“It was great to give AC a rest because he puts himself out. You can see when he comes on he’s a physical player, the contact is there, so to be able to give him a rest today and give him a rest was a massive plus. I thought Kelvin did well and the young boys who went on, Kelvin E- Kelvin A and Mamadi. They gave us a bit of energy, and I think at times that is what you need to get a breather. Thankfully it worked today.”
Hunt on atmosphere
“I emphasised this, the crowd here play such a big part. When we jump and break through lines it gets them off their feet and you can hear the volume increase. That’s what give players buzzes and what they feed off. The more noise, the better.”
Hunt on impact
“I’ve tried to keep calm and focus everything on the team and the games coming up. I haven’t taken the time to settle because when you do take the time you drift straight into football and that pit in the stomach comes and the nerves. It’s trying to stay in the present at times.
“They put themselves in the way with blocks and tackles. I felt we were brave today. I do feel there were six or seven more opportunities where we could have got at their back line and hurt them, but I’m not going to be greedy. For a first game, to show that fight and belief, before the game I wrote a few things up and I felt they did everything.”
Hunt on injured players
“Yak is doing his rehab. He’s out on the grass this week, maybe at the start of next week so they’re all pushing. The response I’ve had off the lads has been amazing, boys who have been told they’re out for the season are pushing to be back and that’s character. From the ones that start the games to the ones on the bench to the ones not in the squad, you’re going to play a massive part of it.”