Reading manager Jaap Stam.
Reading manager Jaap Stam. Michael Regan

Ex-Man Utd favourite back to face old team as manager

JAAP Stam, the former Manchester United defender who is taking his Reading side to Old Trafford in the FA Cup third round tonight (10.30pm AEST), has agreed that he aspires to manage a club of the Red Devils' pedigree.

Stam has never returned in a competitive capacity to the stadium he abruptly left when Sir Alex Ferguson sold him to Lazio in 2001 and he made it clear that eventually managing the club would be appealing, though he said he was no rush and it was not an aspiration for "next season.”

Asked about the idea of eventually managing United, the 44-year-old said: "Everybody wants to work at the highest level. I've been there myself and I know what is needed to get there.

"I need to start at the bottom. I've done that in Holland (as assistant to Ajax and the Ajax reserve team). You need to wait for that chance (to manage a club of United's size) as a lot of great managers don't have the chance in the top level of football. I'm not looking at that (or thinking) that in the next couple of years I need to be there.”

Despite having no experience in English football management before taking over at Reading this season, Stam has a genuine chance of reaching the top flight with his side, which has taken well to his possession-based brand of football and is third in the second-tier Championship, six points behind leader Newcastle United with a game in hand.

Stam expressed admiration for manager Jose Mourinho's contribution at Old Trafford, saying he had huge amount to learn from him.

"He is up, I'm here,” said the Dutchman, gesturing low. "There's no comparisons between the two of us. I need to learn a lot. I look to talk to certain managers. I speak a lot to several managers about how they work. You are sometimes surprised about how they are working.”

Stam insisted that Reading will not abandon its possession-based game when it faces United.

"We are not going to change anything. We still want our possession and to play,” he said.

"We need to think a bit differently in certain ways but most things are not different.”

In other FA Cup third-round action, three all-Premier League clashes will take place tomorrow morning, with Everton to host Leicester City, Swansea City to travel to Hull City and Sunderland to entertain Burnley (all 1am tomorrow AEST).

The top three in the Premier League are in action tomorrow night, with table-topping Chelsea hosting third-tier Peterborough United, second-placed Liverpool entertaining fourth-tier Plymouth Argyle and third-placed Tottenham Hotspur to host Championship side Aston Villa.


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