Last Thursday, manager José Gomes spoke at length and in fascinating detail to a room full of Royals supporters as STAR held its latest Fans' Forum in the 1871 Suite at Madejski Stadium.
More than 150 supporters and STAR members packed in to grill new manager José Gomes for the first time in a 90-minute session hosted by STAR Chairman Ian Maynard.
He answered every question, openly and honestly, and made fans smile and laugh by joking with supporters ahead whilst remaining focussed on a trip to Portman Road last weekend. Focus which certainly paid off.
Here are some of the bullet points from STAR's ever-popular event...
- ...on English football and whether it was all he was expecting?
“It’s a dream for European and South American coaches to work in England. We are in the football country. I’ve never felt this atmosphere and passion from the stands, the intensity of the play.”
- ...on his football philosophy?
“First you want to win. But also I want to play good football. I was insistent on this before being appointed here. In England there are good facilities and pitches so you can… if we play direct football with this squad we will have more problems. We have good technical players. I want intelligent football, using the weak points of the opponent, magic players who can do things to get the people in the stand cheering.”
- ...on playing out from the back?
“We want to control the ball. But it is not only one way of playing. We train six different ways for the goalkeeper to distribute the ball for example, giving him more options depending on the situation. Our players receiving the ball must have a good body position, to turn as they receive the ball...yes, sometimes they make my heart jump a beat too!”
- ...on whether he is working on getting the players to shoot more?
“You are right. Sometimes I am frustrated, we move the ball around the box and no-one shoots. The three big things we are working on are more shots, a higher defensive line and controlling the game more with the ball.”
- ...on bringing on John O’Shea when we were 1-0 up against Rotherham?
“We led and the players were naturally dropping to protect our goal, so we were giving more space to the opponent and more balls were coming into our box. We weren’t playing our style of football. And we are not so strong against direct football. Meite is a set-piece asset but he was ill with flu, so he was tired and I needed to replace him with someone who could defend set pieces and help us control the ball better. With O'Shea on the pitch we created two very good goalscoring opportunities.”
- ...on losing too many points from winning situations?
“The players’ natural intention is to protect the points, our goal, so they start defending deeper. Next time if we are winning 1-0 I want us to try and get the second one!”
- ...on potentially lacking defensive midfield cover?
“Rinomhota will recover soon I hope. We have changed a few details, little positions and Ejaria, Baker and Swift did well against Rotherham, they were strong enough in that position. If we go with them again I see no problem in this position.”
- ...on who made the calls on the January window transfers?
“It’s teamwork. The scouting did well, the directors did well. We are under Financial Fair Play so we couldn’t spend much. I wanted to reduce the number of professional players and allow the talent from the Academy to come through. Twelve players went out which was good and Aluko received a very good offer from China and we have to follow the right way to reduce our budget. My mentor told me when building your squad you have 11 friends week by week who are in the team, you have some on the bench who know you and the players who stay out of your squad are like your enemies (said with a smile). You don’t want to be out-numbered by them! We are better than we were before the January window.”
- ...on how many points do we need in March?
“Just let me touch my crystal ball! The most important is to win the next game – 100% focus on the next game at Ipswich otherwise you lose intensity.”
- …on the Under-23s - will we see more of them coming through into the first team?
“I talk every day with Scott Marshall, our Under-23s manager, and I watch their games. We played very well at Manchester United (won 3-1), good passing combinations. Five or six players train with the first team every day, some of them will be in next season’s squad I’m sure. Danny Loader, as you asked about him, is a talented player. I’m really pushing him to give more. He can’t relax.”
- …on the fans' support?
“I have always felt the support of our fans – the memory of more than 3,000 Reading fans making noise at Old Trafford, you fans are one extra player. I like the way you’re supporting the players – all Reading fans in every stand.”
For more information on upcoming STAR events, including the latest instalment of our Hall of Fame, visit www.star-reading.org where you can also find all the information on how to become a STAR member in the future.