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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Tuesday, February 16th 2021

Holden demands reaction against Royals

Dean Holden has demanded his players show a reaction on the pitch when they go up against Reading after Saturday’s heavy defeat away to Watford.

The Robins were comfortably beaten 6-0 with City returning to Ashton Gate off the back of five consecutive defeats in all competitions.

Holden has explained why it’s important the squad now respond but he fully backs his players to stand up to another tough test against Reading under the BS3 lights on Tuesday (February 16th, 7.45pm KO).

Tactics and psychology 

Holden told Robins TV: “I’ve demanded a reaction from the players which is massively important after what happened on Saturday.

“We’ve looked at the tactical side from the last few games and in particular at Cardiff and Watford. we were two or three-nil down early on both occasions and you’re never going to give yourself a chance. We have to tighten up, we have to stop conceding goals and be harder to beat.

“The physiological side of it comes from honest conversations with the players. My job is to galvanise them, pick them up and move forward quickly. Today is about picking them back up again and building the confidence and belief. They’re good players, I believe in how they play but we’ve had some dark moments recently and it’s about how we snap out of that.”

Full Robins TV interview: Dean Holden pre-Reading

Responding 

Criticism comes with the job but Holden, his staff and his players fully expect it in their profession. But the closeness of the camp is evident with the players showing their belief following the heavy loss in Hertfordshire at the weekend.

“I feel energised from messages of support over the weekend,” Holden said. “I looked the players in the eye this morning and I can see they’re still hurting with that feeling right down in the pit of the stomach. That’s why tomorrow night can’t come quickly enough; I can’t wait for the players to cross that white line, show they’re about and respond.

“There’s been a lot of flak flying around after the last few results and that’s what comes with the job as a head coach or footballer when you’re not getting results. You get some stick, you have to accept that and go and do something about it.”

He added: "They have that inner steel, they care…we’ve had honest, straight conversations. Nothing is brushed under the carpet but we do it in a way the players know they care about each other. It allows you to keep that connection, show that belief and really help them to become the best they can be. That’s what gives me the confidence that they can do that tomorrow.”

Heads were down on Saturday but the will to battle back remains strong

'IT STARTS WITH ME'

Holden explained how the squad’s drive starts with him and he looks to galvanise them and get ready for another big game amid a tough run of results.

“I have to be the example: my body language has to be positive, I have to be passionate, I have to show energy,” he said. “It’s easy for me to mope around and demand that of them so I’m the first port of call. I’m the face they look up to in the morning and they think ‘yes the Gaffer looks like he fancies this.’

“Nothing has ever come easy in my life and this is a challenge, no doubt it’s the biggest test of my career but I accept it and I know in my heart I have the capabilities to come through it.

“I’d be fuming if I was one of our fans. If I saw my team lose 6-0 off the back of what happened against Cardiff I would be raging. We are raging and we have to respond.

Dean Holden has demanded a reaction from the players against Reading

Ready for Reading

“We’re in a tough part of the season, my energy is focused on making the best decisions for Bristol City, not for myself, it’s about inspiring this group of good players to pull together and get that next result.

“With that next result you’ll see the confidence and belief start to grow again and that’s why it can be an exciting time. There’s a huge opportunity coming towards the end of the season with the new training ground, the chance to reshape parts of our squad so it’s really exciting but we have to produce some results.

“We’re playing Reading at home and we’re ready. They have attacking threats and players in form with Lucas Joao who is on fire in terms of goals. We know their threats but it’s one thing knowing it and another making sure we worked hard against it and give them problems.”

Nakhi Wells scored against Reading at the Madejski Stadium in November

Robins TV

Tuesday's match will be live streamed on Robins TV.

The Matchday Show starts at 7.15pm complete with pre-game build-up, in-game punditry and commentary from Tommy Rowe along with replays and post-match reaction.

City v Reading passes now available

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