View from the opposition: Revolution is beginning to pick up pace at Reading
PUBLISHED: 09:52 26 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:52 26 December 2016
Editor and founder of www.royals.org GRAHAM LOADER is thrilled by Reading’s rapid progress under Jaap Stam this season.
Has Jaap Stam’s early success been a surprise?
Like Stam’s summer appointment, it’s an equally big surprise to find Reading sitting third at Christmas. Most were expecting a season of mid-table “consolidation” and take it from there. Some early results made us think it was going to be a long season, but we quickly turned the corner. It’s still early days though!
Has he changed the team’s style of play?
Dramatically. It’s a Dutch revolution. We now dominate possession and the passing statistics have gone off the scale. The patient passing it out from the back, almost using the keeper as an extra outfield player, made fans very impatient early on. Stam, thankfully, refused to change his approach and stuck to his tactics. Now it’s paying off and Reading fans are starting to enjoy the Dutch style. A run of good results quickly changes fan opinion.
Which players have been the most impressive so far?
Liam Moore has been a great signing and clearly fits perfectly with Jaap Stam’s breed of football. He has been very solid in defence which gives the whole team confidence. Ali Al Habsi will be looking at player of the season again in goal – he’s looked world class and his saves have earned points. Garath McCleary is having a very impressive season – another player to thrive under Stam.
And have any been disappointing?
I was expecting big things from former Manchester United player Tyler Blackett and feel he hasn’t played to his potential just yet. We have better options in defence at the moment but he has time to come good.
Do you feel the squad is capable of pushing for automatic promotion?
It’s good to be at the right end of the table, but top six would be a huge achievement and above expectations. I think the top two is realistically out of reach at the moment, unless the transfer window gives us a couple of key players to keep us in touch.
Do you expect the club to do much business in January?
We’d hope for a couple of signings but nothing too dramatic after the big changes back in the summer. I feel like we’ve been almost promised a striker and it would be a disappointment if we didn’t sign someone capable of goals. There is also a worry of performing players leaving if offers come in, which would be really bad news with the squad looking really settled right now.
Have you been surprised to see Norwich struggling?
Yes. Top after 12 games weren’t they? I thought they’d stay in the top two for the rest of the season. It’s been a dramatic fall down the league since then. It seems they’ve got the players and the potential but the confidence has gone out of the window.
And finally, what is your score prediction?
We’ve had four straight home wins and only let in two goals. Norwich have lost four consecutive away games in the league. I just can’t see us losing it, and it must be a definite home win with the bookies. So… a 1-1 draw! We’ve had a lot of close games where we’ve nicked the points. I’ve got a feeling we’re due to drop some points at home and this could be the one.