“Everybody is disappointed – and they should be.” Jaap Stam was reflecting on a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sheffield United.
“In the first half we were not aggressive enough, not sharp enough, not brave enough in going forward and playing football in the way we said and how we trained.
“We were losing battles and giving the ball away to them, which helps them to score their goals. You need to improve – we did that in the second half and our intensity was better when we went forward… we were better on the ball and more aggressive.
“We knew what to expect from Sheffield United – you need to match that or bring more than that. Then you’ve got the opportunity and the chance to win the game. But against a team like this, if you let them win the battle for the ball then you’ll have a difficult time.
“We got our goal and they dropped back – we got more control over the game and when we got the penalty, you have to make it 2-2… then it’s a totally different game. We missed it – that can happen, but you should score.
“Then they got their third, and it’s difficult to get back into the game again. They tried in the second half and the intensity was good – the movement and workrate of Liam Kelly, Pelle Clement and Omar Richards was good and those young players stepped up.”
The killer goal came after Sheffield United opted not to give the Royals the ball back after it had been played out while Liam Moore was down hurt. At that point, Reading had just missed a spot-kick but were pressing for the leveller.
“Conceding a goal like that is disappointing – if it’s still 2-1, even if you’ve just missed a penalty, hopefully you will still get the moment to equalise. At that time, the team you’re playing against are in a different stage than they are at 3-1 – they can be confident and afford to make a mistake when they’re two goals up.
“We let the ball go for an injured player – they decided to play on. You can say, ‘is that fair enough?’ But as a player you also need to realise that when they have that ball, you need to do everything to defend it or to get it back – and not to be surprised if they don’t.”