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"It's all credit to the players"

29 April 2017

Stam's pride in players' achievement and the play-off challenge that lies in wait...

It's official. A play-off campaign starts here. And Reading went third in the league table with just one more game of the 46-game schedule to contest - thanks to a 1-0 home win over Wigan.

Royals boss Jaap Stam was rightly proud of the achievement - but even more proud of his players...

"When I joined, I watched some games that this team played last season and saw how they played, how they set up. The question was whether these players could play how we want to play and the only way we'd know is to start working with them.

"We took some of them out of their comfort zone and you gave them the confidence, allowed them to make mistakes, tried to help these players develop, grow, become confident in doing certain things both indivuidually and as a team. And we started to make steps.

"From the beginning of the season, ending in the top ten was going to be a big achievement based on the last couple of seasons and the quality that there is in this league. But these players have just got better and better, made so much progress.

"They bonded well, the atmosphere within the team, within the club ihas been very good. That helps, especially when you get results as well.

"And it's all down to them. We can give them little tips in what they need to do, but they've been open to it and willing to learn from the start.

Yann Kermorgant scored his 17th goal of the season to hand the home side victory that ensured we would end the campaign in the play-off places, but it wasn't a walk in the park against a Latics outfit fighting in vain for survival.

"It wasn't the easiest of games, palying against a side who needed to fight for their lives. And we'll need to step up for the play-offs. We'll need to play better.

"But it's a big achievement that we're up there, that we're in the play-offs. And if you're there, you want to go up, you want to give it your best shot.

"But there's no pressure on us. We are very happy with what we've done already this season - nobody expected us to be up there. Although when we started the season, we had a lot of confidence in the team and the players we had. And they've performed well.

"We very happy we've made it. We have been up there all season in the top six, but we knew it was going to be difficult to stay there as we came to this stage of the season, when every team is playing for something.

"We don't put the players under any pressure, but they know the importance of the games we need to play. Everybody was very aware of what we needed to do today. They did it, they worked hard for it and it's a  big compliment to them.

"So we're happy to be up there. And we've got another couple of games to look forward to."

The top six are decided - Reading will take on one of Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday or Fulham in the end of season showdown - our opponents will be determined after next weekend's trip to Burton Albion.

"Everybody thinks there is pressure in the playoffs and, for certain teams, I can understand there is pressure. For us, there is no pressure.

"This is a great achievement for the club. And now we're going to give it our best shot - it's a challenge. If we are in good shape, we can make it difficult for any team out there. And that's what we're going to look to do."

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