Manchester United play Reading in the Emirates FA Cup 3rd round at Old Trafford on Saturday in a 12.30p.m. kick-off and the Red-Devils welcome back a familiar face in Reading’s Dutch manager Jaap Stam. The 44 year old spent 3 seasons as a United player from 1998-2001 and was a commanding figure at the centre of the defense during his time at Old Trafford and he had a very successful time at the club before being sold to Lazio which Sir Alex Ferguson later acknowledged was a mistake as the manager realised he had let Stam leave too soon.
In his 79 game career at United, Stam won 3 Premier League Crowns, 1 FA Cup as well as 1 UEFA Champions League so it is hard to imagine him having a more successful spell with the club before he was unceremoniously sold to Lazio. Stam spent 5 seasons in Italy between Lazio and Milan before returning to his native Holland to play 1 season for Ajax.
The former United stalwart started his coaching career in 2011 with former club FC Zwolle as an assistant coach where he spent 2 seasons before moving on to join Ajax as a defensive coach where he spent 3 seasons. He joined Reading in June of 2016 as their first team manager, signing an initial 2 year contract with the team and he has them sitting in 3rd position in the Championship only 6 points behind Newcastle in 2nd with a game in hand at the moment. So Stam will be hoping to be facing his former club in the Premier League next season if he can steer Reading to promotion in his first season in charge and he is looking pretty good right now.
See what Jaap Stam had to say about tomorrow’s FA Cup tie and his time playing at United in the interview below…
Examining recent history holders United, who beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup last season in Louis van Gaal’s last game in charge, have made it through all but 1 of their last 6 third round ties as they only lost to Swansea back in the 2013-14 season. Reading last enjoyed a victory against Manchester United in the FA Cup way, way back in 1927. The Royals have gone on to draw 2 and lose 6 of their 8 encounters since against the Red-Devils. United have not lost in their last 24 FA Cup meetings with lower-league teams, winning 20 matches and drawing only 4 matches since last losing a tie vs Watford in the 1981-82 season.
So you would have to say that recent history favours Manchester United but Jose Mourinho will not be taking Jaap Stam’s Reading team lightly as he knows what Championship teams can do in Cup competitions. You only have to look back to last season to see that Middlesbrough beat United in the League Cup on penalties plus Jose will know that Stam will have his side fully motivated to get one over on his former team. We expect a close game but given United’s recent run of form – 7 wins in all competitions – we think United will win by a 2-1 scoreline.