Manager previews this weekend’s Madejski Stadium matchFive games, five defeats in February – it doesn’t make great reading for Wolves fans.
But Royals boss Jaap Stam believes there is more than meets the eye to the Midlands club’s current run of form, and that their results have been more of a reflection on the little moments that can decide matches, rather than the balance of play as a whole.
“If a team loses five games in a row, it doesn’t say anything for the next game,” said the Royals boss ahead of the weekend’s fixture. “Wolves have got quality and physique, and they made it very difficult for us when we went there.
“When they played Birmingham, they went behind because their goalie missed a ball and it fell straight to Kieftenbeld’s foot so he could finish it. That’s why they went behind and it gave their opposition a bit of confidence. Sometimes that’s how games are decided.
“They have a good team, and we need to be aware of that. We’re aware, we’re focused, we’ll show their games to the teams and certain clips.
“Our preparation has been focused on ourselves and what we can do, as well as having respect for them and what they can do. Hopefully that leads to a good result.”
Our visit to Molineux was our first away day of the campaign – we left empty handed that August afternoon, as Wolves landed a 2-0 victory.
But a lot has changed since then – we’ve since climbed through the rankings to spend a prolonged spell in the play-off positions.
“If you look from that game to where we are now – including in the table – then we have made huge steps and progress,” he continued.
“We didn’t play that badly at Molineux, but we were too sluggish and slow and they took advantage, which is why we lost that day.
“Since then we have stepped it up and we have worked hard. We have confidence in what we’re doing which is why we are where we are. But we want to stay where we are, which means we need to have results because the teams around you are getting points as well.”
There are a dozen games to go this campaign – we aren’t quite into the territory of calling them all ‘cup finals’, but Jaap acknowledges that points do begin to take on a bit more significance than performances at this stage in the season.
But while our fate remains very much in our own hands, he’s keen to ensure that the team can try and get results by playing the right way to set the foundations.
“We are eager to win games – but we are also very critical in how we play,” Jaap explained. “Winning a game gives you a lot – that good feeling, and three points, and you can be happy with that.
“But we want to play well as well. We’re not just thinking about winning that one game – we’re thinking about how we can play, and trying to play well for the fans. We expect a lot from the team, and that’s how we have been working.
“Sometimes, if you play in a final when it’s just one game, sometimes it doesn’t matter how you win it, so long as you win it.
“In the league and especially towards the end of the season, I can imagine that people think the win is most important – and I know that, and everybody knows that the win is important. We want to do it in a certain way. And if we can’t do it in our own way, then we’ll try to do it in an ugly way to hopefully get that win. But first we’ll try to do it how we like it.”
Join us at Madejski Stadium for the match! It's a 3pm kick-off against Wolves this Saturday - click here for all the ticket information you need.