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FA Cup: Returning to Old Trafford, Jaap Stam shows managerial promise

شنبه 18 دی 1395 ساعت 20:36
FA Cup: Returning to Old Trafford, Jaap Stam shows managerial promise
Stam is targeting promotion with Reading this season.
It’s a testament to Jaap Stam’s character that he had failed to notice Reading’s FA Cup draw last month that reunited him with Manchester United. “I knew it [the draw] was in the beginning of December, and Stevie [Reid] sent me a text message with the draw,” he said. “At first, because he was talking about ‘an interesting game’ I thought he was talking about the game on Saturday [against Sheffield Wednesday].”
  
Stam left Old Trafford for Italian side Lazio in the summer of 2001— his Man United career ended at a petrol station by Sir Alex Ferguson. “Without a question, I made a mistake there,” Sir Alex later said of the decision to sell Stam.

Over a decade on and the 44-year-old is now himself a manager with a fresh perspective on why his United career ended. “Sometimes when you go into coaching or management now you understand why certain managers make certain decisions at the time,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports. “They want to improve their squad and maintain the highest level. If there’s a player with an injury that’s been out for a couple of months then you’re never sure if he’s coming back to that same level. You have to make that decision.”

Stam has been back to Old Trafford since, but Saturday represents his first competitive return. Anyone expecting sentimentally from Stam will be disappointed though. Still very fond of United fans, (who will likely give him a rendition of his famous song) Stam’s stern demeanor is matched by an equally austere personality.

“I wasn’t in football to make friends,” he said after admitting he likely has just one person in the game he considers a friend. “I was in football to win trophies, to win prizes, and to do well myself.”

The former Dutch international achieved that goal as a player, and is now attempting to do with the Royals this season. Hired in the summer after a two-year spell assisting Jong Ajax, (the Dutch giants second team) his appointment was fairly left-field, and fronted by the club’s Director of Football, Brian Tevreden, who knew Stam from their time together at Ajax.

Jaap Stam: I could have been on Big Brother

The 44-year-old admitted he spoke to Ronald Koeman and former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink before deciding to take the Reading job. At the halfway stage of the Championship season Reading sit in third place, within touching distance of Newcastle and leaders Brighton. “Reading are very ambitious like I am and want to get back to the Premier League,” Stam said when hired. “Hopefully we can have a good partnership and get there.”

Far from big spenders, Reading actually lost promising midfielder Aaron Tshibola to AstonVilla in the summer, but have managed to be shrewd operators in the transfer market. Signing Liam Moore from Leicester City and John Swift from Chelsea, the Royals possess a talented side that is also the joint second youngest in the league.

On the field, Reading plays a possession heavy style that is easy on the eye and recently drew comparisons to Barcelona and Manchester City by Martin Allen. “They keep possession right from the back with the goalkeeper, pass it around and wait for openings – they’ve been very brave with how they’ve asked them to play,” Allen told Football on 5.

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.Stam has admitted his team lack the spending power of teams like Newcastle United.
Stam has admitted his team lack the spending power of teams like Newcastle United.
Although such comparisons seem sensationalist, they are rooted in fact. Reading top the Championship when it comes to average possession per game (58.4%), and they sit second when it comes to pass accuracy (81.9%) behind Fulham. The product of hard work and Stam’s tutelage, Reading’s current success has arrived after a difficult period of transition earlier in the campaign.

During their first televised game of the season against Ipswich the team looked awkward and disjointed. Few of his players struggled more than goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, with Reading’s overall play looking slow and laborious. A tedious match played out before the Royals eventually emerged victorious, and although some clamored for change, Stam was resolute in sticking to his philosophy.

Results briefly picked-up, with big wins against fellow promotion rivals Brighton and Huddersfield, before a four game winless streak hit the team. However, the club’s patience has since been rewarded with Reading winning eight and losing two of their last ten league games. In their most recent fixture, away at Bristol City, the team came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in dramatic fashion. Displaying a steely character alongside their attractive style of play, Stam’s eagerness to constantly teach and improve his players hasn’t gone unnoticed.

FULL TIME! What a comeback! What a result!
— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) January 2, 2017
“The young players through to the older players at the club, everyone is learning every day in training, and what the manager has brought to
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