Although it came a little bit out of left field, it wasn’t a huge surprise when Roy Beerens quit Reading on deadline day of the January transfer window. Despite turning out 63 times in his one and a half seasons in Berkshire, the Dutchman never really hit the purple patch of form that showed why the club had splashed out to sign him from Hertha Berlin in the summer of 2016.
Perhaps he never properly settled in RG2, perhaps he didn’t fancy a Championship relegation battle in the back half of last season (who does?), but off he went to Dutch first-tier side Vitesse Arnhem. As it happens, he seems to have settled pretty well there, scoring once and registering eight assists in 16 matches.
Speaking to Voetbal International recently, Beerens hinted that - given he’s now the wrong side of 30 - he preferred to play at a higher standard of football, saying:
‘I always had in my head that I would like to return [to the Netherlands], but then to a club with which you can achieve something. Win the cup, take part in the top five of the Eredivisie.
“Then you still have the luck that such a club wants you and that I now had at Vitesse. In the next three years I want to be part of a team for which people come to the stadium with pleasure, but above all achieve something tangible.”
Although I wouldn’t say that last bit is necessarily a sly dig at Reading, those two things - a ‘pleasurable’ home atmosphere and winning trophies - weren’t on offer in Berkshire. In truth, even if he had fired the Royals to promotion with victory at Wembley, he wouldn’t realistically have seen cup success or a top five finish had he stuck around.
Being “deeply impressed” by Jaap Stam
Beerens was an ever-present at Reading throughout most of Stam’s time in charge of the club, and the experience appears to have rubbed off on him quite a bit. The manager divided opinions among the supporters during that period, but Beerens is no two minds as to the former gaffer’s qualities.
“I have been deeply impressed by him as a trainer. A fine guy, down-to-earth and normal. He explains to you in detail which situations will arise in a competition, which system will be played and how the build-up will take place. Really impressive.”
Claiming Stam is “really of a very high level”, Beerens continued with more praise of the former Man United player:
“He is a hero in England, is he not? When we played an away match, he was the big man. We played in the FA Cup against Manchester United, there he was singled out by the fans of that club. That’s great, is it not?
“Especially when you are as calm and sober as a person, stick to your vision whether things are going well or badly. No, Stam never worried.“
That last bit is really telling for me and, depending on how you look back on the manager’s mixed time at Reading, can be intrepreted in different ways. Beerens portraying Stam as a steadfast idealist won’t surprise Stam’s many critics, with his stubborn adherence to possession football perhaps holding the club back in 2017/18.
For me though, “sticking to your vision” deserves a degree of respect, even if Stam should have adapted to circumstance more quickly than he did. It certainly seems to have won the former manager respect amongst his players, regardless of Stam’s ultimate failure at Reading.