In June 2016, former Manchester United and AC Milan defender Jaap Stam was appointed as Reading’s new first-team boss – his first role as a manager in his career.
In 2009, Stam gained experience working as an interim manager at FC Zwolle. Two years later, Stam returned to Zwolle as an assistant manager, before carrying out the same role at Ajax and Jong Ajax.
His arrival at the Madejski Stadium was a very popular one and he has so far guided the Royals up to fourth place in the Championship table.
Stam’s pre-season with his first club proved to show mixed results after winning just three of his six matches in charge.
The Dutchman struggled at the start of his league campaign after only winning one of his first four league games. which resulted in Reading being 21st in the league table.
However, after new signings, including the likes of Liam Moore, John Swift and Roy Beerens, found their way into the first-team, the Royals managed an unbeaten run of eight matches in all competitions which saw them move up to fourth spot.
Because of his successful September, Stam was nominated for his first-ever Championship Manager of the Month Award, despite only being in full-time management for two months.
After a poor October, which saw the Royals crash out of the EFL Cup thanks to Arsenal, Stam’s men returned to their best form by recording five consecutive league victories.
By the start of December, the Royals went up to third position in the Championship and Stam’s impressive run saw him nominated for the Championship Manager of the Month award for a second time in November.
The Royals suffered their heaviest defeat of the season in the first weekend of December by being thrashed 5-0 by Fulham, although they recovered quickly by winning four of their next five games.
A personal disappointment came to Stam after he was unable to put one past his old side in the second weekend of January. Reading lost 4-0 to Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup that weekend.
Stam and his Reading side are currently struggling after consecutive league defeats against Queens Park Rangers and Derby County.
A win against Fulham in their last fixture moved them back to fourth and the Royals are still in strong contention for a return to the Premier League for the first time since the 2012/13 season.
Despite this being Stam’s first role as a manager, he has excelled thus far and his recruitment with a limited budget combined with his current league position has certainly impressed his new set of fans.
It is fair to say that Stam has been excellent so far for Reading, and if he can keep up this vein of form, The Royals will return to the top-flight of English football in the near future.