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Brian: Characters shone

27 October 2012

McDermott on Fulham draw

Royals boss Brian McDermott said few teams would have come from behind twice like his players did against Fulham - but he also wants his side to be able to finish matches off.

In a memorable 3-3 draw the Royals led 1-0 thanks to a Mikele Leigertwood thunderbolt, but had to fight back from both 2-1 and 3-2 down thanks to subs Garath McCleary and Hal Robson-Kanu.

Brian said, "In the first half we played some really good stuff and got ourselves in front. We've taken the lead four times in the Barclays Premier League, which is a real positive in terms of getting on the front foot but now we need to finish games off. We've been working on it and we've done that so well over the last couple of years.

"We need to have that mindset, games of football are won between the ears and fundamentally it's about what we do with the ball. In the second half we had a chance to go 2-0 up and if we do that it's game over.

"But after that we weren't as we should be with the ball, Fulham got to grips with the game and got their goal. Then it was 2-1 and also 3-2, but for us to score so soon twice tells you again about the character we have in this group, it was phenomenal and the players deserve a lot of respect for that, not many teams would have got a result from there.

"At 3-2 down with a minute left my weekend was miserable so in that sense it has to be a point gained! And I've just watched a couple of chances again, Alfie had one saved and Robbo was very close too, we could have won 4-3 and I genuinely thought we were going to win."

Fulham came into the game eighth in the League, and despite not being one of the most-highlighted clubs in the division, they really do have some quality in their squad, best exemplified by very good goals from Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov.

Brian said, "You've got to give credit to Fulham as well. They've got fantastic players, Berbatov is a class act, Diarra, Duff, Hangeland, take your pick, they are a very established Barclays Premier League side. When Ruiz came on, he's ten million quid and it was like the Harlem Globetrotters! 

"People talking about defences switching off, but for Ruiz's goal what can you do? He had a chance and smashed it into the top corner. You can look at the corner for 2-1 and say that's got to be better from us, but for the last one when Berbatov works it out wide and is on his own 16 yards out you know he's going to bend it in the corner.

"So that's why we have to do things our way, we don't have those financial resources so we have to be the best group in the League, we also have quality players. If we do what we're capable of we'll be OK."

Robson-Kanu and McCleary both came off the bench to score vital goals, and again the strength in depth paid dividends. "We spoke about the group yesterday. We've got fantastic people in our group, everyone is in there together, it's 20-odd players. Hal came on, Garath too and we know everyone wants to play. We're trying to create a unique culture with everyone on the same side, we think we've got exactly that.

"We had 20-odd players in the dressing room after the game, the Ian Hartes and Stuart Taylors of this world, there's the likes of Alfie, Alex Pearce too, Churchy, working hard every single day."

Our opening goal was a wonderful strike from Leigertwood, and Brian reflected, "It was a terrific finish, great work by Jobi down the left and then a really good finish, we've seen that type of goal before from Ledge."

Jason Roberts returned up front and nearly pinched a late win, with Brian commenting, "He gives us something, he's a really good player for us, he holds it up well and has nearly scored at the end there. He's got a belief which transmits to the other players and he's been phenomenal for us. We always go for it, whether it's one up top or two."

Brian was asked about Danny Guthrie's absence and explained. "He wasn't selected, but he's fit. He's part of the squad of 20-odd players and has got to get himself into the 18, I just felt it was the right thing to do."

Asked about a search for a first Barclays Premier League win, the boss said, "I've told to boys to forget it, forget 'the win' and don't listen to people outside talking about it. I just told them to play the game, not the result. Every man and his dog outside will talk about 'the win' so we'll just concentrate on the football and doing our jobs. I've been lucky enough to be manager here for three years and that's what we've always done. The win will come."

Watch a post-match video interview with Brian on Reading FC Player now.

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