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Why Steve Clarke doesn't accept defeat

22 April 2015

Boss reflects on Wembley tie

After an historic FA Cup semi-final performance, you may expect a manager to talk about glorious failure or honour in defeat. But do not expect that from Steve Clarke - he went to Wembley to win.

It still rankles with the boss that we were knocked out, and his response evokes memories of his first press conference as Reading manager. When asked back in December how Steve Clarke teams play, he said simply, "Steve Clarke teams play to win."

So it should come as no surprise that, speaking two days after the game at Wembley, the manager was still frustrated that our performance did not turn into a victory. "I watched the game again, and my over-riding feeling was still disappointment. It was a game that was there for us, we probably lacked a little quality in the moments that mattered, that's what cost us.

"These chances don't come very often, and still for me the over-riding feeling is disappointment that we're not in the final.

"We went there to win. That has to be the ambition for any club, if you go there to make up the numbers, for me that would be the wrong club. This is something we're trying to instil. I want the club to be ambitious, as ambitious as I am personally, when we go there we have to have the belief we can win. I'm just sorry for the marvellous supporters who went, we showed everyone what we can all do together and we have to build on that."

Clarke is bringing his winning mentality to Madejski Stadium, and continued, "I saw Jem Karacan mention to the press that it's been three years of disappointment, and we have to break that run. We have to get a positivity around Reading Football Club, and hopefully the game at the weekend - although we lost - can be a new start.

"Like Jem said, the Club has had three seasons of disappointment, and coming is an outsider not involved in the disappointments, it was very noticeable to me. So we have to learn how to win again. We'll come back in pre-season re-energised and positive we can have a good campaign next season."

Asked Arsenal's second goal, the manager has of course moved on very quickly. "You can't dwell on the past, you move on, we all have to. I could sit here now and go through every incident but there's no point, it's gone and in the past. I've looked at all the incidents, I know what we have to do better next time, and the players know as well.

"Now we look to Birmingham and a tough game. Gary Rowett has turned them around, they were in a similar negative cycle [to Reading], but now they're very comfortable in the Championship. I've seen them live a couple of times, they have good players, good organisation and it will be tough.

"I think players always want to play, so it's nice to get back to League business. We try to get more points on the board between now and the end of the season. We try to match the performance level from the weekend, which in this game should be straightforward because it's a game we want to win."

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