In 1985 I went with a friend to see Reading set a league record of 13 straight wins at the beginning of the season Since then I have been hooked on the club, and on a roller coaster ride with Reading, with the highs of Leicester in 2006 to the misery of six play-off failures. Through the best of managers (Sir Steve) to the worst (taxi for Terry!) I have enjoyed supporting my team and going to matches.
Except, now I don’t! There really is no point in me driving 200+ miles round trip to watch my team have 75% possession, mostly revolving around players passing from defender to defender, with the odd pass back to the goalkeeper thrown in. It bores me senseless to be honest. It also plainly does not work, as all this season’s stats make very clear to anyone who chooses to look. On the very odd occasion we haven’t won the possession, we have won the game.
I also like seeing shots at goal. To help to do this there is a novel thing called a “striker”. This is a position that usually involves being in or around (the opposition) penalty area, and having a few passes and crosses aimed in your general direction. However, Jaap Stam doesn’t think much of this position, and quite often feels he can win games without a striker.
Sadly of course he doesn’t! Even more sadly, he doesn’t seem to realise this. Oddly Reading, unlike other clubs in the Championship, have been unable to buy a striker in the last 18 months. That’s not totally true of course, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson joined this summer, but due to Jaap’s dislike of strikers he rarely gets a kick.
I have already mentioned the football style (yuk), but let’s be honest, Roy Beerens and Joey van den Berg amongst others seem to get more than their fair share of chances, and it really doesn’t seem to matter if they play well or badly. Meanwhile poor ol’ Adrian Popa is likely to be sent packing, presumably on the basis he was too exciting for Jaap, being out of step with the manager’s demands not to pass forward.
Still, at least being a world class defender Stam has us well-organised at the back… no scrub that! Indeed Jaap seems to lack motivational skills (certainly none evident), attack as well as that defensive organisation, empathy with the fans and tactical nous (some of the team selections and substitutions are plain baffling)! He also refuses to blood youngsters in to the team. I am not quite sure anymore what Jaap is bringing to the party at the moment!
When I mention party of course, the mood at the Mad Stad at the moment is far from party-like. The crowds are voting with their feet, attendances are down and the atmosphere is toxic. The owners of the club are barely heard from, and seem to have no views on the club whatsoever - at least from what I’ve heard.
From the play-off final last year through to today, the negative style of football is so draining, leaving you incredibly disappointed and frustrated. I genuinely think if we had played positively at Wembley we would be in the Premier League now. Instead we are currently sleep-walking in to League One.
Jaap needs to listen or leave. I will always love Reading FC, but I desperately want to enjoy supporting my club again. I want to want to go to matches where I am entertained, and feel my team has given their all, expressing themselves and showing their talent. I don’t feel that that will ever happen again under Jaap’s tenure.