Royals gaffer on FA Cup drawReading manager Jaap Stam was pleased to see the Royals paired against Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup – although he didn’t realise initially, such is his focus on our next fixture against Sheffield Wednesday!
It was a text message from coach Steven Reid that alerted the gaffer that he’d be heading back to Old Trafford as opposition boss – the ground where he spent three years as a player in the red of United.
“I found out yesterday evening – to be fair I didn’t realise that the draw was yesterday!” said the gaffer. “I knew that it was at the beginning of December, but Stevie sent me a message about the draw.
“He said it was ‘an interesting game’… I thought he was talking about the game on Saturday! Then I read that it was United.
“I’ve been back before of course after I stopped playing for different reasons. But now to play in the FA Cup with Reading in front of the 80,000 fans that they get every home game will be very exciting.
“There are a lot of teams still in the draw, so you don’t expect United to come out – especially at Old Trafford. But it’s nice – you want to play against the biggest teams, because a lot of players want to play in the Premier League and show themselves and what they can do to the world – and now they have got their chance.
“It’ll be interesting to see who they play as well – you don’t know whether they’ll play a first XI, but the whole squad has a lot of quality. They are a great side with a great manager, so it’s going to be interesting to play at Old Trafford and to see what we can do.”
Part of the Red Devils’ treble-winning squad, our gaffer is still held in hugely high regard in Manchester. That historic treble included an FA Cup victory – a 2-0 triumph against Newcastle at Wembley – which holds good memories for the Dutchman.
But he hopes to create a bit of history with Reading this time around.
“From what I’ve heard, they still my song over there – so that’s a good sign!” he continued. “I had a great time there and I still love the club, the people there and the fans. It’s always nice to be back – it’s like you’ve never been away, because a lot of people have been working there since I played there.
“It gives you a great feeling to be back, and to go back as a manager of your team, you hope to do well. It’s going to be difficult, but we always have a small chance to do well. We’re going to try to do it.
“There are a lot of memories from the FA Cup – it’s a very big tournament here and it’s a very big prize to win. Everyone wants to win it and do well.
“It’s great to play in this competition. Anything can happen in cup football – that makes it interesting. There’s always a different atmosphere at United; it’s always a sell-out and that gives you a boost as a player. It’s something to look forward to.
“And to be honest, we’ve got nothing to lose. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to go out there and enjoy it and let them score a couple of goals. It means we’re be playing against a very good side and we’ll be giving it our best shot. We’ll be working very hard to get a result. If we lose, we lose. But we’re going to try and get the result over there.”
That game is a month away though – between now and then, there are 18 points to play for in the Sky Bet Championship, beginning with Sheffield Wednesday’s visit to Madejski Stadium this weekend.
“This is the last interview where I’ll be talking about United!” he smiled. “I know it is interesting for a lot of people, but for us we need to play a lot of games before that in the league.
“We want to do well and get results in the league, and our main focus is on those games in the league and not on United in over a month.”