There's a Dutch revolution in Reading. First it was new Technical Director Brian Tevreden, now it's legendary centre-back Jaap Stam in the dugout. The 43-year-old won Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League whilst at Manchester United and now he'll be hoping to bring that success into his managerial career. Stam has been assistant at Jong Ajax for a number of years but now takes his first real steps into senior management, but it's the Ajax model which seems to be the main focus for Reading now, according to Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth. A proven youth academy, a route into the first team for those youngsters, sustaining success through sensible building... It sounds like a winning formula. If this is the direction, the blueprint, it's a very good one in theory.
And those plans will naturally need investment. We've already seen over the last few months that the ownership group has big plans for Reading, and the Madejski Stadium - Royal Elm Park looks a stunning development which will enhance the matchday experience and turn the complex from a soulless bowl into an area which could become a new hub of the town. And whilst the Bearwood development seems to have halted for now, that's a big investment that will help secure the future of Reading for years to come. If it all comes together, the club could be once again looking forward, with the infrastructure to survive in modern football.
What will happen this off-season in terms of signings? Well, we've made just one signing so far, Danzell Gravenberch having made his way to the Madejski via... you guessed it, Ajax. But the ownership group certainly haven't shown that they're scared of spending money - the likes of Matej Vydra, Ola John and Lucas Piazon all spent last season on loan at Reading on (likely) Premier League wages, with the former costing a hefty amount up front. A number of high-wage players have now departed, and we could see a few more leave come the end of the transfer window. The Thais have guided Reading through one of the most reckless, dangerous financial periods in the club's history and now we could be set to build and rise once again.
Unfortunately for the Thai ownership, uncertainty is still a very real problem which has haunted Reading since the arrival of Anton Zingarevich and has never really left. There are still questions about the prominence of the owners and how much they actually get involved with the club - we've heard multiple reports in the past few months about the "leader" of the group changing, putting their own ideas forward and trying to affect the club's direction. Has it settled down now with the arrivals of Brian Tevreden and Jaap Stam? Nobody knows the answer. A statement put out at the end of the season did little to allay our fears, with many speculating about the true meaning of it. Simply put, we still don't really know who these people are.
The uncertainty at board level is certainly matched by that in the dugout. We're now onto the fourth manager during their two-year tenure. Whilst there hasn't been total satisfaction with any of those sacked, it's a revolving door we've never seen at the Madejski. Nigel Adkins was sacked after a very poor run of form (and wasn't the Thais' choice). Steve Clarke was seemingly a Thai appointment but lasted barely a year before being dismissed. Brian McDermott came in and was shown the door just six months into his tenure after the Royals didn't pick up during his time in charge. Now we're on to Jaap Stam, a man with little to no managerial experience. If Stam doesn't get results instantly, are we going to see the trigger pulled again? But it's not just the manager - at board level, we've seen a major shift in who holds the cards. It's a new era for Reading, but it's one that we're still yet to fully believe in.
And, of course, there is uncertainty about intentions. Royal Elm Park looks a stunning development to improve the area around the Madejski Stadium but the cynical view still remains, that it's merely a profiteering exercise. And there are rumours that work has stopped on the new training ground at Bearwood Park, a major development that would have improved the infrastructure of the football club for years to come. The worries continue that Reading Football Club is merely an afterthought, despite the outward intentions and statements from the owners.