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Jaap Stam Approval Rating: September 2016

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Are you happy with the job Jaap Stam is doing as Reading manager? Vote now.

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Positives

A certain former manager might have loved talking about positivity but for the first time in a long while, there seems to be genuine optimism around Reading Football Club. Jaap Stam has come in, re-moulded the squad, galvanized the fanbase and finally there seems to belief that the Royals are heading in the right direction.

The toxic atmosphere which has pervaded the Mad Stad for a number of years seems to be subsiding, and there's renewed hope about the future. That's down in no small part to Stam, whose reputation and early results have helped him to a strong start in the dugout.

Granted, the results and performances haven't all been perfect, but there's been enough for Reading fans to once again believe - a feeling which has been sorely lacking in the past few seasons.

Of course, you want to enjoy what's happening on the pitch, and there have been moments of genuine quality exhibited by the players during the first month of the Stam era. The Dutchman has brought in a number of new recruits, and his own style of playing the game.

One disastrous performance at Wolves aside, it all seems to be going in the right direction. A draw against promotion favourites Brighton, a 4-1 defeat at Newcastle, which was in no way reflective of how the match actually played out, and two 1-0 victories against Preston and Cardiff have helped Reading to seven points from five games. Hardly spectacular, but very solid for a rookie manager with a wave of new signings and an entirely new style of playing.

And it'd be folly not to mention those new signings, some of whom have majorly impressed over the first few weeks of the season. John Swift and Joey van den Berg have both made the nominations for our August 2016 Player of the Month award, whilst the likes of Roy Beerens and Liam Moore have also impressed during the short amount of time we've seen them in a Reading shirt.

Whilst it's obviously a collaborative effort between Stam and Brian Tevreden to bring these players in, a number of those new signings have directly mentioned the manager as the reason they chose to move to Berkshire. With 12 new recruits coming in this off-season, Stam has moulded the squad to his own ideas - and from what we've seen so far, they seem to be the right ones.

Negatives

As mentioned above, there were 12 players to sign on the dotted line to play for Reading in the past few months. But a large proportion of them are unknown quantities - and most of them weren't on the radar of the casual Royals fan when they were announced. Quantity has certainly been brought in, and it was needed after the mass exodus of free agents and loanees this summer.

But quality? A few players aside, these are rough diamonds and unknown quantities. As any Reading fan will know, we've had major success with that type of player in the past, but those lucky stories are few and far between. Equally nobody expected an Aston Villa or Newcastle-like silly splurge of cash, but there's a reason proven quality players cost money - money Stam didn't invest (if, of course, he had the opportunity).

That quantity of signings also means we've got a very big first-team squad now. Reading have (rightfully, in my opinion) taken the opportunities afforded to them with the EFL Trophy and the Premier League International Cup, giving the under-23 squad the opportunity to test themselves against more professional opposition.

But all these new signings have made the route to the first team for Royals youngsters much more complicated. Tennai Watson and Liam Kelly have been given chances, but the likes of Craig Tanner, Jack Stacey and Tarique Fosu have headed out on loan for first-team football. Obviously these players aren't ready for the week-in week-out rigour of the Championship, but did they have better prospects staying around the squad, learning the system, and taking the opportunities when they got them? With such a bloated squad at the lower end, they had to move to stay relevant.

And word for something which has still not won over all Reading fans - the style of play employed by Stam. We saw against Wolves that the patient passing game patently didn't work, and even in draws and victories it's led to vocal frustration from parts of the Royals fanbase.

It's something that'll take time to get right and it won't work in every game, of course, but with pace and crossing so ingrained in the Reading ethos it might never catch on with a portion of fans. Naturally, results are the only way to turn around that opinion.

One more thing to keep an eye on is set-pieces - many of the chances we've conceded so far have been from free-kicks and corners, so there's clearly a disconnect from the training ground to the pitch when it comes to the all-important marking system. We will have an in-depth look at how Reading are defending set pieces later this week.

So how do you feel about Stam's first month in the Championship? Let us know below - 5 is highest, 1 is lowest. And leave any thoughts about how you're feeling under Jaap, expectations for the season etc.