Jaap Stam’s Reading side were so unlucky not to achieve promotion to The Premier League last season as they agonisingly lost to Huddersfield Town in the Playoff final on penalties at Wembley. It is the worst way for any side to lose but many teams have gone on to recover from playoff heartbreak by securing promotion to the top flight the following season, and this is exactly what the Royals will be looking to do.
We take a look at whether Reading can go one better this season under the management of Stam and secure automatic promotion rather than having to rely on the lottery of the playoffs.
Royals have made another positive start
Stam’s side have made another solid start to their 2017/18 Championship campaign and have secured seven points out of their opening five games. Their two wins so far have come against Aston Villa and Birmingham City; two sides tipped for promotion before the season kicked off. The main positive for Royals’ supporters is that they have not performed to their full potential so far but are still picking up the results which is such an important trait to have in this league.
Reading’s success last season had a lot to do with how solid their defence was as they picked up a significant amount of 1-0 and 2-0 wins throughout and this is something that looks like it could be the case again this season. They have only conceded five goals so far, but Stam is still unlikely to be happy with this figure and will be constantly looking for his side to improve even further.
Star players are still with the team
Championship sides often struggle to keep hold of their star players when Premier League teams come calling but this is something that Reading have had no issue with so far this summer. There was always going to be interest in some of their players after the success they experienced last season, but Stam has managed to keep a majority of his squad together. This does come as a surprise considering that Stam admitted himself that it might be difficult to keep his team together after the Royals’ defeat in the Playoff Final back in May.
Everyone connected with the football club will be delighted that the likes of John Swift, Jordan Obita and Yann Kermorgant have all remained at the Madejski Stadium. Swift and Obita, in particular, have received interest from the top flight as they are both young players with a lot of potential. The fact they have decided to stay at Reading says a lot about Stam’s influence and their belief that they can achieve something special this season.
Stam has made some smart additions this summer
Stam has added quality players to what was already a talented squad this summer with the likes of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Tyler Blackett, Leandro Bacuna, Modou Barrow, David Edwards and more all arriving at the club. These are all players who have proven or have the potential to perform to a high standard at this level and will all add something different to Stam’s squad. These additions have without a doubt resulted in the Royals having an even stronger squad than the one they had last season.
Recent speculation suggests that Reading’s summer business is also not yet complete. They have been strongly linked with forwards Sone Aluko and Nelson Oliveira from Fulham and Norwich City respectively. A deal for 28-year-old Aluko looks to be a lot further down the line with a fee of around £7.5 million said to have been agreed with Fulham. However, the Royals reportedly remain interested in Oliveira, and if they could lure him to the Madejski as well, then they would be put right up there with the favourites for automatic promotion this season.