Royals boss Jaap Stam is hoping his players can hit the ground running after laying the foundations of how he wants his team to play last season.
“I knew when I came in as manager last summer what sort of players I had by name. But I had to get to know them on the pitch and understand what they were capable of. And they did great.
“Now we know them very well, in what they can do, what they need to improve on, what we can add to their way of playing as part of the team and as individuals.
“We’re trying to get the best out of them. And I’ve told the players they need to aim to do the same themselves.
“You don’t want to go back to the same level as last season, you want to get better. That’s how I approached the game myself when I played and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
“We need to step up. We need to work even harder than last season. We need to learn; the players learned a lot last season – but the aim is not to repeat that, but to add something extra to that so we can improve even more.”
However, three big hitters have come down from the Premier League to join some huge clubs already trapped in the Championship as well as three more sides who will be full of confidence and who will be hoping to harness the momentum of promotion from League One and translate it into wins in the second tier this season.
“We have to be realistic and realise it’s not going to be easy to do what we did last season,” Stam said.
“We want to do well, of course. But we all know the quality within the teams in the Championship – there must be at least ten or fifteen other teams who think they can go up to the Premier League, many of whom can spend a lot of money.
“It’s not a guarantee that if you invest a lot of money you will automatically do well – as has been shown in the last few seasons. But we need to be aware of the teams we’re going to be facing.
“As a club, we are still looking for that moment when we can do something special and go up to the Premier League. But there is a lot of competition within this league.”
Pelle Clement became the Royals’ first new signing of the summer last Wednesday and the hard work will continue as the club aim to bolster the squad ahead of the brand new challenge of the Championship.
“We’re looking for players, we want to bring a couple in with extra quality to strengthen the squad and add competition within the squad – because we know next season is going to be hard.
“And with some extra quality in the squad, everybody can step up and make it even harder for me in terms of selection choices and also for the opposition we’re playing.
“But even with new owners at the club, it does not mean we can spend a lot of money.
“Everybody knows what we can do from what we showed we were capable of last season. But the competition within the Championship is going to be bigger as well this season. So we know it is not going to be easy.”