Striker on learning from the gaffer and play-off challenge aheadIt hasn’t been the easiest of maiden seasons in England for Royals striker Joseph Mendes – a handful of injuries throughout the campaign have prevented the Frenchman from fully getting into the rhythm.
But he believes that he has improved a lot under the guidance of gaffer Jaap Stam – and feels fit and ready to make an impact for the gaffer when he’s called upon in May!
“It is fantastic to be in the play-offs – especially for me, as it’s my first season in England!” Mendes said. “The team has worked hard, and we need to do it now. We need to win our games and get promoted, because we deserve it.
“We are lucky because the gaffer is very good. He knows football because he won a lot of trophies and played for big teams. We are lucky to have this gaffer and we have improved a lot with him.
“Every player has improved, and I have improved a lot in the last few months when I have been fit with the gaffer. I always listen to him, because he is a champion!
“He won the Champions League and a lot of big trophies, so we have to listen to him and work hard and improve in that way.
“I think we are lucky to be footballers. To wake up every morning to play football, we are lucky. We need to enjoy it. When I am on the pitch, I am happy.
“Sometimes I am disappointed if I am not in the squad, but I just carry on working and doing my best. And when I play I just want to help the team and be important for the squad.
“We have 25 or 26 players in the squad – the manager has to make choices and I think he has done well because we are third today. We all have to accept the manager’s choices and keep working.”
The Royals end their regular season in the Midlands on Sunday with a trip to Burton Albion – and the Brewers boast an impressive record on their own patch this season, with Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby amongst the nine teams to have left empty-handed from their visits to the Pirelli Stadium.
But while the game is a dead-rubber, he knows that Reading will be aiming to take winning momentum to the play-off semis.
“If we win on Sunday against Burton, we will start the play-offs with confidence,” he continued. “So we’ll do our best to win.
“The Championship is a very good league and it is tough to win against a team like Burton. We need to be at 100% and work together.
“We know that we will be in the play-offs for sure, but we want to win. We are competitors and this squad has a lot of character. We won’t go to Burton and be on holiday – we will do the best we can and try to start the play-offs with confidence.”