Reading boss Brian McDermott reckons the club’s new ’substance over style’ mantra has led to a turnaround in their fortunes.
Pavel Pogrebnyak’s fifth-minute goal was enough for the Royals to record their second Barclays Premier League win of the season at the expense of West Ham and McDermott’s side have now conceded just one goal in their last three outings.
Reading were the side to watch for goals before their recent defensive resurgence, with the Madejski Stadium seeing an average of five goals a game before the goalless St Stephen's Day draw with Swansea.
McDermott said his ethos is to always entertain Reading’s supporters but collecting points was much more important in the long-run.
“We tried to play a style of football here which entertains our fans,” he said.
“But 4-3s, 3-3s, 2-2s, 7-5s; if the results are going against you that is not what the fans want to see and they start shouting at me.
“So today they got a result, our fans got a result and that is what they want to see and we have something to build on.
“A 0-0 with Swansea, the performance at Man City and the performance again today and another three points, that is four points from three games and gives us something to build on.”
The win takes Reading five points behind 17th-placed Aston Villa and McDermott believes a change of mindset has made his side more miserly of late.
When asked what had changed over the past few games, McDermott said: “A tactical switch, a mindset switch, we have to do what we have to do to pick up results and I have been fortunate in the last three years that I have got results – we are in a results business whatever league we are playing in and we need to keep that going.
“Last year was a miracle to win the Championship, I don’t know how many points we are behind but all I know is that we have got to try and win the next game.”
Pogrebnyak struck his third league goal for Reading following a mistake from West Ham’s James Collins.
The defender looked to play a simple ball back to goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and Pogrebnyak stole in to slot past the Finn and put Reading ahead early on.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce pinpointed Collins’ error, as well as a glaring four-yard miss from substitute Ricardo Vaz Te, as the reasons why the Hammers left Berkshire empty-handed.
“James Collins makes a basic error, they take advantage of it then Vaz Te misses the chance,” he said.
“He had the easiest chance to score a goal you’ll ever see in a Premier League football match and misses it – hence no points. You make those types of mistakes, you can’t expect to get anything out of a game at this level.
“Once they got the goal they wouldn’t want to come out and play. They wanted to protect the goal we’d gifted them. The loss of the goal disrupted our flow.”
Collins made a similar mistake when West Ham were beaten 3-0 at Swansea earlier in the campaign but Allardyce felt his players should have produced more to make the former Aston Villa defender feel slightly better about himself.
“I never thought I’d see James make that type of error again – he did it at Swansea,” he said.
“He has been one of our most consistent from that time but low and behold he has a simple back-pass he misplaces and they take advantage of it.
“The lads should have got him out of the mire. We should’ve got at least a point and then it wouldn’t by lying as heavily on him as it is now. He’s distraught at the moment. He knows what that mistake has meant. He has to get over it.”
The defeat leaves West Ham six points above the relegation zone with Allardyce now looking over his shoulder.
“We’re beginning to look down now for the first time this season,” he said. “All of a sudden now, we’re looking a bit cautious and we don’t want to get dragged in if we can help it.”