Full interview with the bossIn a game that drew on every possible emotion for Reading fans, Steve Clarke spoke to Reading FC Player at Wembley Stadium. Read the interview in full below.
Just how proud are you tonight of the players, the fans and the football club?
The team doesn’t need me to stand here and say how proud I am. Everybody knows. The crowd, the supporters were behind everyone from the first minute. The supporters were great. But I think the team probably shaded it. They were magnificent. Everything we spoke about, everything we asked them to – tactically astute, tactically clever – always looking around to help eachother. Denying Arsenal the space and always looking to be a threat when we went forward. And that was key for us in the game.
We switched off once in the first half, when you switch off against a quality team you get punished. But in the second half, we showed great resolve, great ambition to get back in the game. It’s a good job there’s goal line technology, because with everything that’s gone against us today – we wouldn’t have got the goal. Officials would have chalked it off. We got back into the game and it was a proper cup tie between two good teams. Arsenal probably had the better chances but we also had some good moments to get the second goal.
Many people would have expected you to sit back and pack the midfield - you surprised a few by playing 4-4-2!
People should know by now I’m not predictable! Everyone was telling me I had to play 4-5-1, I had to crowd the midfield. But my job is to watch the opposition, to analyse the opposition and find out how they play and what’s most effective against them. The choice in my head was clear, for a couple of weeks it was going to be 4-4-2, to try and cause them a problem. Obviously you need the tactical discipline against a team like Arsenal, where everybody does their job. And we did that. And in the way that we played, you see how close to see how close we were to get to an FA Cup final.
We had our Player of the Season vote recently and Adam Federici was favourite, does that sum up how cruel today was on him?
It’s the life of a goalkeeper. Adam is obviously very upset, because he feels responsible for the defeat. It's much better in a game like this that if you have to lose you lose to a moment of brilliance. That’s not the case today. As I said after the game, we win together, we lose together. Adam is a strong character. All the players are 100% behind him, the staff are 100% behind him – he’ll bounce back . On Wednesday night when we play Birmingham, he’ll be typical Adam Federici- one of our best players.
Can Reading use this as a springboard to move forward?
This is what we have to aim for. This is what I said at the end of the game - 'this is what we have to strive for'. You see the crowd like this, when the team is doing well competing against a top team – the supporters understand they’re going to have to help. They did that today. We have to hold the ambition to have a much better season next year, and the season after that we can be back – we can be playing this type of game every week. This has to be the ambition for Reading Football Club.