A first season in England as either player or manager for Veljko Paunović means a first foray into the Emirates FA Cup… the Royals boss is looking forward to taking part in the world’s oldest cup competition.
While our league campaign is our bread and butter, the welcome distraction of a different competition offers its own excitement. It’s knock-out football… there’ll be a winner and a loser, and no middle-ground.
“It’s a very important competition, worldwide!” Pauno said. “It’s well-known, and every manager will have winning the FA Cup on their bucket list!
“I’m not different from them. I always want to compete and to win. And when I have the opportunity like this, I want us to do our best. Always looking ahead for the long term, but when you have a game in front of you, it’s a great opportunity to test yourself and show everyone where you are at this moment.
“We are very eager and happy to start the competition. The guys are getting ready in training – we have had a very good week of training. Our game at Luton is our next test.
“We are still building our team and momentum, and recovering people. So I think we are putting ourselves in a good place right now. We still have to do improve on some aspects of the game, but we’re doing well.”
It will be the second time that the Royals have faced the Hatters in cup competition this season.
They were 1-0 winners at Madejski Stadium at the start of the year, as a much-changed Royals squad featuring some of our Academy talents and players on the fringes of the first team put up a fight to an experienced Luton outfit.
Whatever team is selected on Saturday, the manager is doing his utmost to ensure that they give their hosts a battle.
“We always have to look at the long term – but the short term is important too,” Pauno continued. “We will definitely consider both approaches before we make any decisions to what team is going to start this Saturday, but we always want to put a competitive team out there to represent our club, our community and ourselves in the best possible way.
“The session today was part of the preparation for Saturday, and it was very demanding. In terms of the content we wanted to instruct to the team, it was very hard.
“So we are approaching the game like every other game. We are preparing the team that will step onto the field to be in the best possible shape to win the game.”