Reading were one penalty shootout away from the Premier League at the end of last season and it was hoped that they would go one step better to clinch promotion during this campaign.
However, it has been a disastrous season for the Royals and they currently find themselves three points above the relegation zone with eight matches to go.
Jaap Stam had retained faith from the board for his overachievement during his first year as manager, but with their position looking more and more precarious, it became untenable.
The club announced his dismissal on Wednesday in an online statement that featured the following:
“Jaap has not wavered in the time, effort and sheer determination he has put in to try to steer the team away from the position we find ourselves in. However, after careful consideration, the decision has been made that a change is now necessary.”
The Dutchman can’t complain that he wasn’t given a fair chance.
There are only eight matches remaining in the season and it has become obvious that he was no longer the right man for the job.
It was inconceivable at the start of the campaign that Reading would be battling relegation. They were a team with promotion ambitions, but 2018 has been terrible for them.
The Royals have won only one Championship match during this calendar year.
A number of draws have kept the club stuttering along, but now they are only three points above the bottom three, a decision had to be made.
Stam will look back at his time with Reading as a positive one.
He managed to surprise a lot of pundits by taking them to third position in his first season and was unlucky not to be promoted, but there are a lot of people still scratching their head at how the Royals managed to finish as high as they did.
The likes of Fulham, Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday were all seen as better teams, but something clicked for Reading and it is difficult to explain what.
Mark Taylor made an observation on Twitter using expected goals. Stam’s team massively overachieved based on that metric, which projected them as finishing 19th.
This season, the model projects them in 17th. In short, this decline in league position was predictable.
Although there are problems with expected goals, it does provide a good explanation for Reading’s decline this season.
Their results have simply returned to the mean and they are now getting the points to match their performance level.
It isn’t that they have got worse under Stam’s management, but rather that last season was the outlier.
If Reading, as a club, want to be competing for promotion, Stam wasn’t the right manager to deliver that. The underlying numbers throughout his tenure highlight that.
His side scored 112 goals and conceded 121 in the Championship during the Dutchman’s time as manager.
That isn’t a record that suggests he is good enough to lead the club back to the Premier League.
The time for dissecting Stam’s tenure and his failures isn’t now. Reading must concentrate on making the right appointment to secure their place in the Championship.
It would be a huge blow if they were to fall to the third tier for the first time since the 2001/2 season.
With only eight matches left, there is little room for error for any incoming manager. The club must hope that this decision wasn’t too little too late.
Leeds United round-up: De Bock interest, O’Kane to Charlton and managerial shortlist
A selection of the latest news and gossip from Leeds United.
De Bock option
Laurens De Bock has an option to head out of Leeds United before the end of the month. The Belgian has struggled to have an impact at Leeds since arriving in January.
The left-back has now dropped down the pecking order at Leeds, with youngster Tom Pearce and summer signing Barry Douglas overtaking him.
According to Voetbal24, he could be heading to Israel. Beitar Jerusalem are said to be keen on the player, where his former manager Guy Luzon is currently working.
Leeds United midfielder Eunan O’Kane could still be heading to Charlton Athletic. The Irish international has been frozen out at Leeds and is expected to leave Elland Road before the end of the month.
League One Charlton, managed by former Leeds midfielder Lee Bowyer, have been linked with a move earlier this month.
Now, as reported by the Yorkshire Post, the Addicks will continue looking for his signature over the next week or so.
Leeds’ managerial shortlist before the start of the season had a number of top names present. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, the Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani confirmed that the likes of Antonio Conte, Claudio Ranieri and Roberto Martinez were all considered for the manager role at Elland Road.
Leeds eventually appointed Marcelo Bielsa and his impact has been dramatic and immediate in West Yorkshire.
Leeds United should consider sending Yosuke Ideguchi to KAS Eupen
The Japan international looks unlikely to play a major role at Leeds this season.
Leeds United’s excellent start to the season has been largely down to the management of Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine has worked wonders with his new players. He even brought in the likes of Mateusz Klich from the cold, with aplomb.
However, another player who spent the second half of last season loaned out elsewhere was Yosuke Ideguchi. So far, the Japanese international has not received a chance under Bielsa.
It looks as though he might be sent out on loan before the end of the month, but interest from these shores looks scarce.
Last season he spent time with Leeds partner club Cultural Leonesa. The two teams have a strong link through director Ivan Bravo and the Aspire Foundation.
But Cultural was a waste of time for Ideguchi. He barely played and they were relegated to the third-tier. The Spanish side are not, however, the only Aspire team in Europe.
KAS Eupen of Belgium’s top-flight also have a connection with Bravo and Aspire. If Leeds want to help Ideguchi get better, perhaps sending him here is a better shout.
Not only would he playing a similar style of football to that in England, but he would be doing so under one of the best central midfielders to play the game in England.
Claude Makelele is the manager at the club. The former Chelsea star would undoubtedly have a lot of knowledge to pass down to a young midfielder.
He would also have the added advantage of a Japanese team-mate. Yuta Toyokawa joined the club in January, amid controversy surrounding an apparent move to Leeds. He is a similar age to the Leeds misfit. Having him around could help the pair settle in their new surroundings.
If Leeds cannot find someone in the UK to take on Ideguchi, then sending him to Eupen looks like being the next best thing.
Marco Bielsa is already setting records at Leeds United, with last season’s team
The turn around at Elland Road in the opening weeks of the season has been remarkable.
Four games into his Leeds United tenure and Marco Bielsa is already setting records with his new team.
After a 2-1 victory over Rotherham on Saturday, the Argentine head coach becomes the first boss at Elland Road to win the club’s first four games at the start of a domestic season, in all competitions.
The standards being set by the 63-year-old since his arrival have been somewhat remarkable with the playing style he has quickly been able to implement proving mesmerising, even to those who are typically opposed to the club.
But, perhaps the most impressive quality about the performances Championship fans are witnessing, is the fact Bielsa has set this record with practically the same team that took to the field, and could only achieve a 13th place finish, last season.
At Elland Road this weekend, the starting XI only contained one summer signing, which just goes to demonstrate the impressive work Bielsa has carried out with the players over the summer period.
Already being referred to as a ‘ready-made Premier League side’, after years of heart break at Elland Road, there will now be a genuine believe that the Whites can return to the English top flight come the end of the season.
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