Manchester United may have missed a trick in appointing Jose Mourinho as the new boss at Old Trafford.
While all the song and dance was about the former Chelsea manager taking over from Louis van Gaal, Reading have quietly appointed former Reds favourite, Jaap Stam, as their new head honcho on a two-year deal. The giant Dutch defender has been assistant boss at FC Zwolle and Ajax before taking up the role at the Championship side.
United have long failed to draw on the ranks of former players to fill the hot-seat at Old Trafford. Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes were long touted as possible replacements for Sir Alex Ferguson without anything coming of it.
And of course, Stam’s former team-mate Roy Keane ran the show when he was on the field – so why not off it? One thing is for sure, while Mourinho is a smooth and effective PR man, he’ll not instil the terror or fear factor that a Stam or Keane would stamp on the role.
Can you imagine turning up late for training for either of those two? Knocking on the door to ask why you’ve been stuck on the sub’s bench or telling them you can’t make a game because your girlfriend has broken a fingernail? They’d go absolutely ballistic.
Everyone can see that United have talent on the pitch; what they are lacking is a bit of fight, the willingness and desire to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in during an ugly mid-week match at Everton or on a sticky pitch at Bournemouth.
“People look at me when I was a player and think I was a bit too serious, a bit grumpy or whatever, but people who know me say: ‘No, he’s quite friendly.'” – Jaap Stam.
Stam, who likes like he’s stepped straight out of the front line of the mentalist Russian hooligans in France, would bring some of that hard-man image to the dressing room and the Reading players can expect no easy ride under his charge.
“I think in management you need to know when to be hard with the players, because you expect certain things of them. And if they don’t do it, you know you have to deal with it in a certain way. It’s not like a school camp or whatever where you just play a game and see where you end up — you have to work very hard to get maximum results.”
But who is harder – Roy Keane or Jaap Stam? There’s only one way to find out….