Jaap Stam could not hide his disappointment after watching his Reading side lose the Championship play-off final on penalties to Huddersfield Town, but he was keen to praise the effort of his players on such a high-pressure occasion.
The Royals struggled to create any goalscoring opportunities of note throughout the game, as their patient, possession-based approach was absorbed by the Terriers' high-octane pressing tactics.
Despite the let-down on the final day of Reading's season, Stam seemed in a surprisingly positive mood, keen to talk about the achievements over the season as a whole rather than the failure at the end.
'The most important thing is to win'
When asked how hard to take the result had been, Stam replied: "What do you think? It’s always hard if you lose, even if it’s a league game. But, what we achieved this season is great and now we’ve made progress and ended up in the top six and ended up in the play-off final.
"Of course you want to play the final and then you give it your best shot, everything in your power, everything in your ability to try and win this game, it doesn’t matter how you played. The most important thing is to win this game.
"I think the boys have been doing what they have been doing all season which is working hard, trying to give everything for this game and to get the max out of this game, of course during game you see the game evolving and both teams don’t want to risk too much.
"But we spoke about it before the game, you have to take risks on the ball, you have to take the initiative on the ball. It’s easy to say do the same thing as in a league games but it’s a different occasion and its difficult to put that aside."
Stam pleased with players' responsibility
Stam was open in his praise of those players who performed on the day and eventually step up to take penalties, clearly pleased that his players hadn't ducked away from the responsibility.
"But you know we worked our way through it, we worked very hard and got to the penalty shootout and then it’s basically a lottery. Can you keep your cool and do the same things as you do in training with penalties?
"In the training session you can’t create the same atmosphere or tension of what’s happening in the stadium, but what’s very important to me is that the players took responsibility and did what I asked them to do.
"I’ve played big games with penalty shootouts and some players have got an injury or don’t feel well, the players took the responsibility and knew what they needed to do.
"Of course there is the possibility that you miss as well, it happens, of course everyone is very disappointed that you don’t win it, you don’t go to the Premier League, but it’s a tough sport, finals are there to be won and that’s what we tried to do but eventually Huddersfield won it, congratulations to them and good luck to them next season as well."