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Could Erik Ten Hag Have Managed Reading?

He was beaten to the Royals job by Jaap Stam, according to former owner Tiger.

Ajax v Feyenoord - Eredivisie Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

If you didn’t know, former Reading co-owner Sumrith ‘Tiger’ Thanakarnjanasuth has taken over as the majority shareholder at Oxford United, clearly keen to maintain his position in the property football world.

Today saw the Thai investor’s first press conference at the Kassam Stadium, and whilst most of what he said, he did talk briefly about his time in RG2:

“When I was in Reading for three years, the third year I really got involved with the performance of the team and the board because that was the consortium.

”They said one of us should get involved and everyone raised their hands and said ‘Tiger, you’ve got to get involved’ and I said ‘I’ve never run a football club’ but they trusted me.

”I talked to six or seven guys face-to-face and my last two candidates were Jaap Stam and Erik ten Hag and finally I had Stam in the team.”

Whilst he confirms what we mostly already knew about how he took more of an active role in running the club two years ago despite having no prior experience, his claim about finding Brian McDermott’s replacement as manager is interesting. If he is to be believed, Jaap Stam was chosen for the position over current Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, who was manager of FC Utrecht at the time.

Not that this would have seen Reading head in a completely different direction. Stam and ten Hag are both bald, Dutch and former centre-backs. Stam is just two and a half years younger and was more successful as a player. Tiger doesn’t specify why he ended up choosing Jaap, but I’d speculate that it may have been because he was not only a bigger name, but also cheaper, considering that he was only Jong Ajax boss at the time whilst ten Hag was in charge of the FC Utrecht first team.

However, ten Hag was the more experienced candidate, having led Utrecht to fifth in the Eredivisie and the KNVB cup final in his first season at the club. He had previously managed Go Ahead Eagles and Bayern Munich II and worked as an assistant coach at FC Twente and PSV. In his time in Bavaria, ten Hag worked alongside Pep Guardiola.

It’s also interesting that Tiger makes it sound that it was he who made the final decision on the club’s next manager, and not Brian Tevreden as he been suggested in the past.

What is clear though is that the powers that be at the club were keen to adopt the Dutch, possession-style model in Berkshire, and although the “six or seven” other candidates aren’t named, you’d imagine that the majority would have also fit that criteria.

Does that suggest that if/when Jaap Stam does depart that the Royals will look to retain a possession-based philosophy? Well, of course the Thai consortium are no longer involved with the football side of things, but Tevreden does remain so it’s a high possibility.

Having said that, in a random rumour of the day, the Daily Mail have reported that Mick McCarthy could become the new Reading manager in the summer when his current contract at Ipswich Town expires. You’d be foolish to instantly believe the report though, considering that Sheffield Wednesday are also linked with the Yorkshireman, despite the Owls only changing managers at the start of the year. Premier League strugglers, currently managed by Alan Pardew, are also said to be interested in McCarthy.