“For the neutral, it was a great game. For a manger, it was tense!”“Well I can imagine you’ve had more relaxed Valentine’s Day evenings than that haven’t you?” came the opening question in Royals boss Jaap Stam’s post-match media questioning this evening. “You can say that again!” smiled the manager.
“It was a very tense game, a lot of positive things happening on the pitch – for both sides! For the neutral, it was a great game to watch. But as a manger, it was quite tense."
Candlelit dinners for two are all well and good...but this was a Valentine's Day game you didn't want to miss! The Royals took the lead, were pegged back with two goals conceded in the space of a couple of minutes just after the hour, but a triple substitution helped Jaap Stam's men bounce back again and take victory in thrilling fashion!
"We knew it was going to be tough, because as you know we played Brentford earlier in the season and found it very tough. They played very good football over there and we’ve seen them do the same in the last couple of games as well. And I need to give Brentford a compliment because they are one of the best teams we have played in the football they play.
"They’ve got quality up front and in the midfield as well – so we needed to be very aggressive, very compact against them. And at the beginning we did that and went 1-0 up.
"After that, spaces became a bit bigger, we started running with the ball instead of passing the ball. And they could nick it off us and go forward, create chances.
"Luckily for us we went into the dressing room 1-0 up and we talked about what we needed to do better and be aware of at the start of the second half. And we started the second half quite well too.
"But they got back into the game with two quick goals. They had a lot of energy - combined with the quality they have - they created a fair bit and scored two goals in a very short period of time.
"When you’re 2-1 down, you wonder how the team is going to respond, but we know the mentality we have in the team because we’ve shown it before.
"In football, and I know because I’ve been there playing at the top level, you need to have a certain mentality in the team to win games. If the mentality is not there and you’ve got a lot of quality, you’re not going to be winning trophies – I can tell you that!
"With talent, quality and a certain mentality in combination, you can do well and eventually get to where you want to go. We’ve got young players eager to do well, we've got experienced older players who are also very eager to perform.
"They’re helping each other out, they’re talking to each other, there’s a very good spirit within the team and there’s belief. That’s what you need. If there’s no belief, it’s hard to get results.
"We keep believing in ourselves, even when we're playing against very good teams, we know we can do it. We know we've got the quality to make it difficult for every team in the Championship."
"And we made three substitutions in an attempt to go forward, create chances, they came on and wanted to get the equaliser, then they wanted to get the winning goal...and the changes paid off with two goals of our own in a very short period.
"Even at the end they could have equalised, but luckily for us they didn’t. It was very exciting, but we know there is never an easy game for us. We know we have to work very hard to get results and tonight we did work hard and got the three points as a result."