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“The fans did us proud!”

11 March 2016

Royals boss reflects on an eventful FA Cup quarter-final defeat

"The fans did us proud and I'm proud of Madejski Stadium tonight - I thought they were absolutely fantastic. And we want more of that, in the league," Royals boss Brian McDermott said after a cruel end to a raucous FA Cup quarter-final this evening.

"It's a great place to play football, this. And we want this every week, we want to get back to where we were a few seasons ago.

"The FA Cup is a bonus. It can't be that the FA Cup is the be all and end all for our season every year. It must be about the league - and that's something we need to take on board now and next season.

"I've been involved in three FA Cup quarter-finals now and I might not get to a semi-final! But I have won the league here. So, if you said to me that I'll not get to a semi-final, but you'll win the league again...I'd take that next season.

"Our prioroty has to be the league. We don't really want our season to be about FA Cup runs, we want it to be about winning league games - that's what we have to be about."

The Royals' cup adventure this year took the club to the last eight for only the sixth time in our history, but an 86th minute penalty from Yohan Cabaye knocked Reading out in front of a sell-out at the Mad Stad tonight.

"Their player has gone down really easily. Did he need to go down as easy as that? No. That's the answer to that. But that's what happens in this day and age, so you can't raise your hand and give referees a call to make.

"Jake will learn from that, but unfortunately the referee made a call and it's gone against us. Crystal Palace had a penalty given against them on Sunday and we've had one given against us tonight. That's football.

"If Ola John scores the header, that game could have been different, but he's hit the target and the goalkeeper's made a really good save. I can't ask much more than that. If we could have gone in front and got that first goal, which was always going to be important, it might have been a different story.

"But they got that first goal, then they hit us on the break when we were down to ten men. I'm disappointed for the players, because they're gutted in the dressing room. And we've got some really good people in that dressing room.

"And if you do the best you can on any given night, you can never lose. You can take losing, so long as you see what we have tonight - guys throwing their bodies in there and a team going toe to toe with a very good Premier League side."

McDermott had special praise for an heroic performance from Ali Al Habsi between the posts as well as the display from one of five Academy graduates named in the Royals starting eleven this evening, Jake Cooper.

"Ali was fantastic. He made some extraordinary saves and he's been great for me. He's a wonderful human being, and the more people like that you can get around you, the better you are and the more successful you can become.

"I was gutted for Jake because he's another genuinely good person. He's distraught in there but he has no need to be. I thought he was fabulous tonight and he's going to be a really good player for us.

"The fact that there were five Academy players in the eleven today, it tells you an awful lot about the calibre of our Academy and what we're trying to do here.

"The team that won the league here with me had a number of Academy players as part of it, all of whom came through together. We're tryiong to do something special here again and those Academy players as well as new ones coming through are going to be really important."

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