Statistics can’t answer whether the decision to sack Jaap Stam with eight games of the current season still to play for was a good decision or not. What they can demonstrate though is that Stam’s first foray into management was one of contrasts. Nothing says that more than looking at this season’s league table and comparing it with 2016/17’s, but it really does give some substance to that clarity. So I’ve compiled some of the most defining statistics that will mark his time at Reading.
Nothing quite screams the change under Stam this season than the difference in our home records. Last season saw just two defeats and an accumulation of 53 points - this was our second most successful season at the Madejski Stadium, beaten only by that 106 point record breaking team of Coppell et al where we won 61 points.
This season, however, is on course to be our worst since the 1980s, which I touched on in greater detail a few weeks back. We have won just three times - not once on a Saturday - and managed just 16 points, which gives us the fifth worst home record in the football league this season. Only, Barnsley, West Brom, Sunderland and Burton have worse.
The last stat, which really does sum up the dramatic decline at the Madejski is this: last season Stam’s Reading had accumulated 27 points at home by the turn of the year, in Stam’s last twelve months at the helm we’ve managed just 28.
1 win in 18
Again another statistic fans are all too familiar with, but as our current form is the second worst of a Championship side this season, this is the stat that perhaps will be remembered and hang over Stam’s head more than any other. Bolton Wanderers are the only club who have had a worse run of form this season, mustering just one win from their first nineteen Championship matches. Of course they stuck with Phil Parkinson and it could be said Bolton have a better chance of beating the drop than us, lying three points ahead and six above the drop.
Last season by comparison, Reading’s worst run of form was when they picked up just two points from four matches between 27th September and 18th October. Whilst one win in eighteen is our worst run of form since 2012 when a newly promoted Reading side won just one of their first nineteen matches of that Premier League season.
Possession, possession, possession, possession...
I don’t need to tell you the distinguishing feature of Stam’s tactical manual, in fact there was barely more than one chapter in it, but under Stam Reading averaged 58.8% of possession in all league and playoff matches. However, they managed on average just 11.2 shots per game with 3.8 on target – a ratio of 33.9%.
By contrast the opposition averaged more shots, 14.1, and more on target, 4.9, a ratio of 34.5%. On just thirteen occasions did Reading have the minority of possession. We averaged just 1.3 goals scored per game and conceded on average 1.6 goals per game.
He gave youth a chance
All in all Stam gave eight academy graduates their first team debuts whilst the average age of players who have appeared in the first team squad this season is 25.5 years. No one can complain about how he’s gone about his business in this department, and similarly to Brendan Rogers, he may have a more enduring legacy in the players he brought through than his actual results whilst at the club.
Stam’s win percentage
Overall Stam’s win percentage in all competitions was 40.81%. If you’re curious about the only other managers from the post-war period to beat him…
- Alan Pardew – 48.34%
- Ted Drake – 48.72%
- Brian McDermott (first spell) – 44.97%
- Steve Coppell – 44.33%
- Mark McGhee – 43.17%
- Roy Bentley – 42.24%
If Stam had left last summer as many predicted, he would have left with a win percentage of 56.52%, which would have been the highest score of any manager in the club’s history. However, this season it’s a measly 21.05%, which has knocked him down the pecking order slightly.
What that puts into perspective was just how well we achieved last year, after all it was the seventh highest placed finish in the clubs history as the Royals clinched third spot. Not a bad achievement by any stretch...
Were the owners trigger happy?
Stam is the ninth manager to lose his job in the Championship this season, with six of the bottom nine clubs handing out P45s up to now (remember Barnsley didn’t sack Heckingbottom). As we know it was the run of one win in eighteen that cost him his job, so how does this run compare with those that cost those other managers their jobs?
- Garry Monk, Middlesbrough - 4 wins in 8 (really?)
- Thomas Christiansen, Leeds – 1 win in 7
- Harry Redknapp, Birmingham – 1 win in 8,
- Steve Cotterill, Birmingham - 5 defeats in a row
- Mark Warburton, Forest – 2 wins in 9
- Carlos Carvalhal, Wednesday – 2 wins in 12
- Leonard Sluitsky, Hull – 2 wins in 15
- Simon Grayson, Sunderland – 1 win in 15
When you look at these figures it’s hard to argue that Stam wasn’t given every opportunity this season to turn it around. He may have said that it’s the case of Championship managers to quickly change things, but really, he can count himself lucky.
Now you’ve read this, read all the other stuff we’ve written about Jaap Stam (there’s quite a lot):