Jaap previews Villa trip on SaturdayRoyals boss Jaap Stam has underlined how important it is for his team to treat every game with the utmost importance if they are going to realise their goal of securing a play-off position.
The first of the final five comes against Aston Villa on Easter Saturday, which offers the Royals an opportunity to show their character after a humbling defeat at Norwich last weekend.
“It’s normal that you’re disappointed, and you need to be disappointed and you need to feel it,” said Jaap, reflecting on the loss to Norwich. “You speak with the team about what you’re going to do about that, and you need to learn from it. That’s what we’re trying to do.
“After that game, we spoke about it straight away and showed some clips to certain players. But we need to look ahead to the next fixtures; we’ve got Villa on Saturday and that’s a big and important game. It’ll be a tough game as well, but everybody is confident and the spirit in the team is good.
“We have lost before, and we’ve come back strong. We’re going to try and do that again on Saturday.
“All season we have been trying to improve, and we’re still doing that towards the end of the season because we’ve started to become a very good team. Eventually, by losing sometimes and looking at clips and working together, and by communicating, you try to overcome challenges and become a better team and better individuals.
“We’ll be working hard on Saturday again to get a good result. It’s an important weekend because we’ve only got one day between our games on Saturday and Monday, which is quite unbelievable to be fair! It’s not the easiest weekend but we need to deal with that, and to focus on the last five games in the league.
“For us, every game until the end of the season is a final so we need to really dig in deep to get results to stay in that top six, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Villa’s rollercoaster campaign has seen a talented group of players miss out on hopes of reaching the play-off positions. But the Midlands club are on a rich vein of form at present; the gaffer isn’t expecting any favours from them.
Steve Bruce’s side were the first visiting club to taste victory at Madejski Stadium this season and Reading will have a tough challenge to avenge that defeat from back in October.
“When we played them over here, we played well but they dropped in very deep and defended and defended,” he continued. We made a mistake and they scored that goal – then it’s very hard against these teams to get that equaliser.
“They have got a very big squad with a lot of quality players. They bought good players in January as well, so it’s not going to be easy for us.
“They have had a difficult time throughout the season, but they want to prove themselves against every team and that they belong up there, and they want to beat every team – especially those teams in the top six.
“We know all that, and we need to be aware of it. The players are aware and we’re going to give it a go and try to make it very difficult for them.”