It is safe to say that Jaap Stam is a man under pressure at Reading, with a miserly one league win from his last eleven Championship games. Alex Royal watched his team Middlesbrough take on Jaap’s side at the Riverside on Saturday. Here’s his take on the action. 

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I was looking forward to the fixtures against Reading; especially as I expected that they would be a direct rival for promotion, having agonisingly lost out on penalties in the play-off final against Huddersfield last season.  This was however not the case as Stam’s Reading have endured a somewhat abject season. Jaap has firmly admitted that his team are locked in a relegation battle, something that many pundits are deeply surprised at.

Stam has admitted to the media this week that his team prefers playing away from the Madejski Stadium with him quoting: “Nobody is happy with the situation but the fans need to understand if the players feel more comfortable playing away from home rather than at home then I think it’s the wrong signal they’re [the fans] giving…”

As for Middlesbrough, they came into the game needing to bounce back after a defeat at Norwich last weekend. I personally saw this game, along with Cardiff away next week, as crucial in our push for a play-off spot.

The Match

Middlesbrough made just the one change from last week: Jonny Howson for Adam Clayton. The visitors made three with Kelly, McCleary and Aluko all starting after their defeat to Millwall last week.

Not really a game that will live long in the memory, ‘Boro won 2-1 thanks to a brace from the outstanding Adama Traoré, with Chris Martin pulling one back for Reading. Britt Assombalonga had the chance to seal the win for Boro but skied his penalty with five minutes left.

I have to say that the double change Stam made just past the hour mark changed the game, with Yann Kermorgant and former Ajax man Pelle Clement coming on. Stam adopted a more direct and physical approach, one far different from the negative one which he employed for the first hour and that has come under a lot of scrutiny from Reading fans. Clement provided the assist for Martin’s goal after good work from a short corner.

Individual Performances

Former Go Ahead, Zwolle and Heerenveen man Joey van den Berg was a starter for the Royals today, a tough and tenacious typical Dutch CM, however, one of the poorest players on the pitch and was probably lucky not to get sent off. Pelle Clement came on just after the hour and for me was Reading’s best player, providing the assist for their goal and looking a handful on the left-hand side.


Stam has a huge fight on to keep his job; whether this defeat is the final nail in the coffin remains to be seen. Reading fans, can Stam can turn things around? Have your say in the comments section below!

As ever thank you for taking the time to read this, constructive criticism is always appreciated.

Alex Royal (7 Posts)

22 year old from the UK, Middlesbrough fan but have a huge passion for Dutch football in general, especially the Eredivisie. I try and get over when it doesn't clash with Middlesbrough games.