Ones That Got Away: Jaap Stam – a great defender that didn’t get to stay for long

Jakob Stam, best known as Jaap Stam was born in Kampen, Overijssel in the Netherlands on the 17th July 1972. The Dutch international signed for Manchester United back in 1998 for £10.6 million, from PSV Eindhoven, a club United have done a lot of business with in the past, the most recent signing to come from the club was Memphis Depay in the summer of 2015. During his time playing for PSV in his native Holland, Stam had tasted glory by winning the Eredivisie, the KNVB Cup and the Johan Cryuff Shield twice.

Moving to United was only going to continue his glory. Stam signed for United during the summer of 1998, the season United went on to win that illustrious treble, Stam being intrinsic to that feat with his calmness in defence, his ability on the ball and his determination to win. Stam was one of the best defenders at the club, winning the Premier League three times, during all three of the season’s he played at the club, also winning the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League during the treble-winning season, adding the Intercontinental Cup later in 1999 – his third trophy at the club at the time – his sixth trophy at the club.

Stam, despite being a great player, was sold to Lazio for £15.3 million, nearly £5 million in profit from his signing for United three years previous, in what was a shock to many United supporters. A disagreement with manager Sir Alex Ferguson seemed to end his time at United, something that affected the club going forward for a season or so, with Rio Ferdinand being his replacement almost a year later, something which worked for Ferguson and United, bringing a player who dominated in United’s defence for over a decade – partnering with Nemanja Vidic for much of that spell at the club.

Stam was a still a great player at the time he was sold by Ferguson, still had years left at the top of his game, and could have helped United dominate a lot more if he had remained at the club. United did need to rebuild their side after their treble heroics, but the way Stam left the club was a massive shock, but something Ferguson did based on comments made in the player’s autobiography.

During his time at Lazio, Stam was banned for five months after having traces of nandrolone after a drug test following a Serie A match, which was then reduced to four months after a semi-successful appeal. With Lazio, Stam won the Coppa Italia. He left Lazio for AC Milan in 2004, staying in the Serie A continuing his success by lifting the Supercoppa Italiana. Stam left Milan for the Netherlands in 2006, ending his playing career ar Ajax.

At Ajax, Stam only played on for one more year, winning the KNVB Cup and the Johan Cruyff Shield twice. His total trophy haul during his career amounted to 15 trophies. Stam played for the Netherlands 67 times, scoring three goals for his country. Although he did not win any trophies at international level, Stam did help his side to a fourth-placed finish in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, which was a great achievement.

After retiring as a player, Stam took some time out of the game before becoming interim manager at PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands in 2009, then becoming the assistant manager in 2011, leaving in 2013. Stam then became an assistant with Ajax, the last club he played for, which lasted for three years, leaving in 2016 for a position in the Ajax Academy, leaving that role in 2016 to become the permanent manager of Championship club Reading. Stam managed the Berkshire club until the 21 March 2018 when it was announced that he had left the club after the clubs poor form.

In the Emirates FA Cup during the 2016/17 season, Stam led his Reading side out against his former club at Old Trafford but he saw his side beaten 4-0 with Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial scoring a goal each and Marcus Rashford scoring a brace. Stam holds no grudges about his time at United, and neither should he after winning six trophies at the club, the most successful time of his career. After Reading, Stam returned to Zwolle on the 28 December 2018 but left to manage PSV in March 2019. Stam resigned in October 2019, saying:

“I’ve thought about this for a long time. My final conclusion is that it’s better for the club, the players and myself if I step aside.”

In May 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, Stam returned to management, becoming the FC Cincinnati head coach in the MLS in the United States of America. Stam led his side into the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Florida, winning two of the three group stage matches, but losing on penalties in the round of 16 to Portland Timbers, then eventual winners. His side has just won two of the seven matches played with him as the head coach.

Written by John Walker

Jaap Stam on his bust-up with Sir Alex Ferguson which ended his Manchester United career

Former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam has opened up on his exit from the Old Trafford club, which was a shock at the time. We all knew the story about the Dutchman’s United career ending at a petrol station, which seems strange but also underlined the fact that Ferguson was a guy that demanded the best, doing what he needed to do, wherever it was.

During his four seasons at United, Stam won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one UEFA Champions League and one Intercontinental Cup. It was a vert successful four seasons at the club and if he had not been forced out, that success could have continued for a few more seasons or more, which is a shame.

Stam played for Lazio, AC Milan and Ajax after leaving United and started management in 2016, managing Reading, then moving to PEC Zwolle, Feyenoord and he is currently managing MLS side FC Cincinnati, although they are yet to play a game with Stam managing them because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ferguson reacted to Stam’s autobiography, which forced his exit from the club. Stam said that Ferguson had previously told him not to worry about it but that soon grew into a big problem. It was a big shock at the time but we all know that Ferguson was ruthless and because of that, was a very respected figure. Speaking about his book, Stam said:

“Initially, Ferguson had told me not to worry about it, but on Wednesday – the morning of the match – I was informed that I should report for talks with him the next day, because he wasn’t happy about some of it.

“After the game, I went home and reported the next morning at 8am, because I was keen to resolve the matter. I said, ‘You know what’s in the book – nothing bad.’ But he maintained that he wasn’t happy.

“I was left out for a game against Blackburn. On the day, he called me to say I wasn’t in his squad because of the book hassle. He felt it might calm down if I wasn’t playing. We had a few conversations, although none of them were really satisfactory.”

Perhaps, after a few days, things might have quietened down on the matter, but that did not happen. Stam missed the match against Blackburn Rovers and despite a few conversations with the gaffer, nothing was solving the problem of the book. It is often something that many think about and what could have happened is Stam had stayed.

As time went on, Ferguson’s upset festered and despite Stam training at the club training ground, presumably seeing Ferguson on a daily basis, it clearly did not solve anything. Ferguson had sold the player to Lazio for £16 million, which is what Lazio said they paid, a rise on the £10.5 million United had paid for him in 1998. Stam concluded by saying:

“A bit later that week, I was driving home from training when my agent phoned, telling me I’d been sold. I was like, ‘What?!’ He said, ‘Yeah, they’ll contact you in a minute.’

“Moments later, Ferguson called me and asked where I was. We lived in the same area, and he told me to wait for him so that we could have a chat.

“I pulled into a petrol station near a shopping centre and he met me there. When he arrived, he got in my car and told me that the club had accepted an offer from Lazio. Within 24 hours, I’d gone to Rome and joined Lazio.”

Ferguson admitted that he regretted selling Stam all those years before, which does not make the matter any better but is as close as you would get to an apology from the gaffer. Stam brought his Reading side to Old Trafford in the FA Cup on the 7 January 2017 and saw his side defeated 4-0. He has played at Old Trafford for Soccer Aid and in a United legends side since his departure

My Favourite Three: Sir Alex Ferguson signings; Hughes, Stam, Pallister

Sir Alex Ferguson started managing Manchester United on the 6th November 1986 and despite it taking until 1990 for him to win his first trophy, it was a turbulent time for the Scotsman who had his own discontent to deal with after sections of supporters demanding he was sacked, which would have been the worst mistake in the club’s history, a mistake which was visited after the gaffer retired at the end of the 2012/13 season, appointing former Everton manager David Moyes, a guy who was sacked just nine months later. During Ferguson’s near 27-year reign of the club, he made some great signings and some not so great signings. I will talk about my three favourite Sir Alex Ferguson signings…

Mark Hughes

Many may not see Mark Hughes as a Sir Alex Ferguson signing being that he came through the club’s Academy and played for the first team from 1980, making his debut in the 1983/84 season, until 1986 when he was sold to Barcelona for £2 million, a big fee for a player back then, in fact in today’s money, Hughes transfer to the Catalan club would have cost more than £5.5 million today, still not a big fee for the player United got back, but it was a bargain. Ferguson paid £1.8 million for Hughes in 1988, just two years after he left the Old Trafford club, making £200,000 in that time from the fee Barcelona paid for the Welshman. In his first stint at United, playing in three seasons, Hughes made a total of 121 appearances, scoring 47 goals. In his second stint, after Ferguson re-signed him, Hughes made 352 appearances, scoring 116 goals, leaving the club for Chelsea in the summer of 1995. During his time at United, Hughes won many trophies including two Premier League titles, the FA Cup three times, one League Cup, three FA Charity Shield’s – two shared, one UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup and one UEFA Super Cup. Post-Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn Rovers, Hughes went into management, managing Wales, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and he is currently in charge of Stoke City.

Jaap Stam

Yip Jaap Stam is a big Dutchman was what was heard from the terraces at Old Trafford and beyond when the Dutchman played for Manchester United between 1998 and 2001. Stam was one of the best central defenders the club had in the modern era and he was tough to replace, not to mention the way he left the club which made it so much harder. The bad blood between Ferguson and Stam has been sorted out, so that won’t become a factor of this article. Stam was a favourite of mine, he was a no-nonsense defender, one who protected his area and most of the time got the better of his opposition. Stam cost United £10.6 million in 1998, the year United started their best ever season, ending it with the treble. Stam would have cost £17.7 million in today’s money, which is dwarfed by the recent transfer fees of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof who cost United upwards of £30 million a time, but in the modern era, fees are very much different. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were the best defenders since Stam, with Bailly coming close after just one season. Stam is now managing Reading, a team which just missed out on a promotion to the Premier League, beaten by Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final in May.

Gary Pallister

Gary Pallister was also a favourite of mine, much in the respect of Stam, he did what he needed to do and did not expect to be a major star of the side, which is much different to today’s game where most players seem to have ego’s, even if they are not considered very good. Gone are the days where you will see a footballer mix with us normal folk, which is a shame – there seems to be a divide. I have met Pallister a few times and he is a true gent and loves talking to United supporters, well any supporter really. He has some great stories to tell, which makes him down to earth as many players of his time were. Pallister signed for Ferguson’s United from Middlesbrough in 1989, the year before Ferguson won his first trophy for the Old Trafford club, for just £2.3 million – about £5.5 million today – an absolute bargain, breaking the national record for a defender. Pallister won four Premier League titles, lifted the FA Cup three times, the League Cup once, the FA Charity Shield five times (shared once), the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup once and the UEFA Super Cup once. Pallister left United in 1998, nearly ten years after he signed for the Old Trafford club, heading back to Middlesbrough for £2.5 million, with Ferguson again making £200,000 profit on the player he brought to the club nine years before.

What We Learned: Carrick’s successor, squad depth and winning mentality

Manchester United knocked Reading out of the Emirates FA Cup scoring four goals which started with Wayne Rooney scored his 249th goal for the Red Devils. Anthony Martial doubled United’s lead just eight minutes later, with United dominating the match entirely. Marcus Rashford’s brace saw United win the match 4-0, but they could have easily scored many more goals, especially in the first half. United are now on a 14 match unbeaten run, winning their last eight matches, of which six were in the Premier League. Tuesday’s visit of Hull City in the EFL Cup and then the visit of Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Sunday will be long-awaited fixtures as United will be looking to make their unbeaten run to 16 matches, and their winning run to ten.

Manchester United have squad depth

Jose Mourinho made nine changes from the side which beat West Ham United on Monday with only Michael Carrick and Marcos Rojo. United have the players to be able to rotate when needed, which is good for the remainder of the season with United the only team in the Premier League fighting on all four fronts at this moment in time. United have another match to play this month, which will turn into the busiest month of the season so far and have the players to ensure his side can prevail, Mourinho will continue to be happy. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both impressed today and the manager will have a headache over the next two matches, seemingly with both making a statement which could see them in contention to face Liverpool in a weeks time. The defence might be where problems lie, though. United managed to dispatch Reading without utilising Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, keeping them all fresh for the visit of Hull City, or even Liverpool.

Defence is solid but not able to avoid injuries

Manchester United this season have been boosted with the form of their defenders with Eric Bailly resurgent following his move from Villarreal, also Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo’s partnership, which has seen the club come through a turbulent time with both Bailly and Chris Smalling on the sidelines through injury at the time. Bailly has not left United to play in the African Cup of Nations this month, which may not see him return until February. The injury sustained by Rojo against Reading early on has been described as a muscle injury, which could see him out for a while. That leaves United with two defenders out of action, meaning Daley Blind may have to become a stand-in central defender once more, or United need to act in the transfer market with Victor Lindelof’s proposed move still being touted in the Portuguese media. United have Smalling and Jones, who can do a job, but another injury between the two would see United in a predicament they would probably not want to be in.

Michael Carrick’s replacement could already be at the club

Michael Carrick is a player who has seen United win the majority of the time he has played. At 35, he is not going to last forever. Many words have been written about Carrick’s replacement, with many thinking about a like-for-like, but there not being many contenders out there. Looking back, Carrick was the best replacement to Roy Keane, coming a year after the Irishman left the club. Carrick was not a Keane type player but was allowed to make his role his own, which he has done. United will need to let Carrick’s successor do, as you will not be able to plug the Carrick sized hole otherwise. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is a player that has a big future at United. He stated that he wants to play in midfield with Paul Pogba, but will probably have to settle with Ander Herrera, with Pogba playing a further forward role. Fosu-Mensah replaced Carrick against Reading and did well in the time he played. The Dutchman could very much be the one who succeeds Carrick at the club. He made ten appearances last season, all in the right-back role, a role he does not want to cement himself into, therefore he should not play there. Having him in midfield could bode well for the future, but he needs more time on the pitch in order to better himself. He’s training with his teammates daily, but playing matches is where he will find his feet.


Manchester United are into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup, adding another match to an already busy January fixture list. Fighting on all four fronts this season, the only club in the Premier League to be doing that at this stage, which suggests things are going right at the Theatre of Dreams, despite whet the ABU media and clueless opposition supporters, who all seem to want to believe that Manchester United are still stuttering after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three and a half years ago now. It is good to have a belief, but when that belief is being shown up, that is when you start worrying, just like they are doing. In a few weeks time, United will either still be on their winning/unbeaten run, or it will have ended. If it is the former, United’s rivals will need to start worrying.

Ratings: Rooney matches record and Rashford bags a brace against Reading

Manchester United beat Reading 4-0 in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. It was the first match former United defender Jaap Stam would manage at his former home and he will be returning back to Berkshire looking at what could have been – that was annihilation. United had chance after chance in the opening stages of the match, taking the lead in the seventh minute through Wayne Rooney, scoring his 249th United goal, matching the record set by Sir Bobby Charlton. Anthony Martial doubled United’s lead in the 15th minute with Marcus Rashford scoring himself a brace, finding the back of the net in the 75th and 79th minute, despite having many chances of his own throughout the match. United were the better team and showed that, continuing their momentum into the important stage of the season.

United remain unbeaten in their last 14 matches, winning their last eight, six of those in the Premier League. Tuesday’s encounter against Hull City in the semi-final first leg of the EFL Cup will see United trying to better their winning run ahead of the visit of Liverpool in the Premier League a week tomorrow, which should see United claw back some much-needed points in the league, helping them rise from the sixth position they have occupied throughout their winning streak in the league. United will now have to wait to see who their next opposition will be in the Emirates FA Cup, but will find out on Monday evening. Come on UNITED!

Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney

Goals: Wayne Rooney 7′, Anthony Martial 15′, Marcus Rashford 75′, 79′

Assists: Juan Mata 7′, Wayne Rooney 15′, Michael Carrick 75′

Manchester United: Romero; Young, Smalling, Rojo (Jones 19′), Blind; Carrick (Fosu-Mensah 78′), Fellaini; Mata (Schweinsteiger 78′), Rooney, Martial; Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic

Bookings: Ashley Young 54′

Manchester United

22 Sergio Romero

Had very little to do against Reading for much of the match. Reading were much better late in the second half, but still nothing to thwart Romero of his clean sheet.


18 Ashley Young

Played well in the right-back position, but looked to have been struggling early on, but Rojo's injury meant he needed to continue, which he did. Was booked for a challenge and may have dived, again too.


Chris Smalling

Calm and composed in defence. This is the sort of match he needed to regain his confidence. Overall, played well and defended when needed, which was not for much of the match.


16 Marcos Rojo

Played well for the amount of time he was on the pitch, seemingly getting injured and being replaced by Phil Jones in the 19th minute.


17 Daley Blind

Played at left-back with Luke Shaw still trying to get match fit. Filled in well and did what was needed. Lacked pace at times.


16 Michael Carrick

When Carrick plays, United are never beaten (this season at least). One of the best players in the squad, but a replacement needs to fill the void and United could have that in Fosu-Mensah, who replaced him.


27 Marouane Fellaini

Had a good game despite not being a fans favourite. Had a few moments that could have cost United, but seemed to get through them. Resurgent going forward.


8 Juan Mata

Helped his team get in front by finding space. Unlucky not to score on a few occasions. Replaced by Schweinsteiger.


Ratings: Rooney matches record and Rashford bags a brace against Reading

Scored his 249th goal in the 7th minute of the match. Had a good game, but also found it hard to make the record his own with a few shots on goal. Might play against Hull, but more likely to face Liverpool in a weeks time.


9 Anthony Martial

Lively on and off the ball, got his goal in the 15th minute and tried to add more to his tally. The Reading defence seemed petrified by him. The Martial United had last season is back and ready to punish defenders.


10 Marcus Rashford

Had a lively presence against Reading, getting the ball in their area, getting in behind the defenders and threatening to score on a few occasions. Scored a brace in less than five minutes, one of which will annoy Al-Habsi and Moore, who both dropped clangers.



4 Phil Jones

Replaced Rojo. Did what was needed to keep Reading at bay, when they did get forward of course, which was not all that often over 90 minutes.


24 Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Replaced Carrick. Had a good match playing in the Carrick role. Needs more chances to fulfil his target of earning a place in Mourinho's side, which will come with more matches coming thick and fast this month.


Ratings: Rooney matches record and Rashford bags a brace against Reading

Replaced Mata. Many were glad to see the veteran Germany playing again. Did what was needed, but Reading were beaten when he came on. Could see himself back in the side more often this season.


Report: Manchester United cast aside Reading scoring four without reply

Manchester United beat Reading 4-0 in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday. United could have scored many more goals, but it was just not the day for an absolute rout at the Theatre of Dreams with Jose Mourinho’s side sending former United defender Jaap Stam’s side packing.

Jose Mourinho made nine changes to the team which beat West Ham United on Monday with Marcos Rojo and Michael Carrick retaining their place. United needed to keep their momentum going, which was important ahead of the visit of Hull City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday evening and the visit of Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Sunday. United started well with two shots on goal in the first few minutes of the match, one of those from Wayne Rooney, who was chasing the record set by Sir Bobby Charlton back in the 1970’s. Rooney found the beck of the net minutes later, assisted by Juan Mata, matching Charlton’s 249 goal record.

United were the team in charge of the fixture, dominating possession over Jaap Stam’s side, putting a lot of pressure on them, effectively playing in their half of the pitch for much of the match. United doubled their lead through Anthony Martial, who played a one-two with Rooney before finding the back of the net. Marcos Rojo was replaced by Phil Jones in the 19th minute of the match after finding it difficult to play on after sustaining an injury. It was supposed to be Ashley Young coming off, according to the commentary. Marcus Rashford could have helped United to their third of the match, but he put the ball out of play.

Rashford had the chance to put United 3-0 up again, beating the keeper and putting his shot towards goal from an angle, hitting the side netting. United just did not look as if they were going to sit back, pushing Reading at every chance to increase their lead. United had a few chances on goal coming to the end of the first half; one through Rashford again, then a free-kick, which Mata and Rooney took, which amounted to nothing. United had another with Mata on the run in the box, but he was flagged for being offside. United dominated in the closing stages of the half, pressuring Reading just as much as they did earlier in the half.

Ashley Young had some good play on the right flank, dominating his player and getting the ball into the box for Mata to strike, only to see his effort blocked. United regained possession and went straight back on the attack with Mata against having the chance, but hitting his effort over the crossbar. Jaap Stam will not be happy with his side during the break as they did not make a tackle before United were 2-0 up. United were still 2-0 up at the end of the half and it could have very easily have been 5-0 with the chances United had on Reading’s goal. Mourinho will be happy with his side but will be looking for them to continue pressuring Reading in the second half.

United picked up where they left off at the start of the second half, on the attack. Rooney had a chance to make the record his own, but his shot was wide of the mark. Michael Carrick needed treatment for a cut to the head just after the restart, going off, but being able to continue. Bastian Schweinsteiger was warming up, but will not be needed just yet. United had yet another chance on goal with Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Rooney on the attack. Rooney had the chance to score his 250th goal, by Ali Al-Habsi had it covered. Reading ended up on a rare attack with United nipping it in the bud and countering. Mata had another chance for United, hit the side netting but was offside anyway.

Wayne Rooney had another chance to make that record his own with a header but was flagged for offside. United found themselves with a lot of defending to do with twenty minutes remaining, which changed their dominant spell in the match. At 2-0 up, United should have won this tie, but they should have carried on and tried to add a third to their goal tally. United won a corner, which Daley Blind took, but failed to create any danger, with a second corner being won, which again did not amount to anything. United still had possession, passing back to Sergio Romero, who started the attack again.

United found a third goal through Marcus Rashford, who was assisted by Michael Carrick with a tremendous pass from his own half. Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Bastian Schweinsteiger replaced Michael Carrick and Juan Mata with United possibly looking to continue their dominance and perhaps make it four against Reading this afternoon. Rashford capitalised from a defensive calamity between Al-Habsi and Liam Moore with Rashford pressuring Al-Habsi who could not pick up the ball from the back pass from Moore. United were four goals to the good. United had two chances in quick succession to make it five, but neither came off for the home side.

United have given themselves another match to play this month by putting themselves into the fourth round draw on Monday evening, which will help them continue their momentum this season. United are unbeaten in 14 matches now, winning their last eight, their longest run for a few years at the club, which is good to see. Rival fans can continue to moan about United again, which only confirms it will not be long before that fear factor fully returns. Jaap Stam’s side did not start all that well and had fought back at times, but were lucky they were not beaten by a much bigger scoreline.

Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney

Goals: Wayne Rooney 7′, Anthony Martial 15′, Marcus Rashford 75′, 79′

Assists: Juan Mata 7′, Wayne Rooney 15′, Michael Carrick 75′

Manchester United: Romero; Young, Smalling, Rojo (Jones 19′), Blind; Carrick (Fosu-Mensah 78′), Fellaini; Mata (Schweinsteiger 78′), Rooney, Martial; Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic

Bookings: Ashley Young 54′

CONFIRMED: Carrick, Fellaini, Mata and Rashford start against Reading

Manchester United face Jaap Stam’s Reading in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford this afternoon, United’s first match in trying to retain the trophy they won in May under the guidance of Louis van Gaal. Jose Mourinho will be up for putting his side into the draw for the fourth round, adding another match to January’s already fixture packed month. United have been in good form recently, continuing a 13 match unbeaten run, winning the last seven matches, six of those in the Premier League. United are a team that is gaining momentum, something which needs to continue ahead of the visit of Hull City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday and Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Sunday. United have a great chance to gain something this season over the next three matches, moving forward and getting their momentum into full swing, which is important to show their rivals that they are not going to give up this season, which is what they have done over the past three seasons.

Manchester United:


Young, Smalling, Rojo, Blind;

Carrick, Fellaini;

Mata, Rooney, Martial;



J. Pereira; Jones, Fosu-Mensah; Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Schweinsteiger; Ibrahimovic



Gunter, Evans, Moore, Blackett;

Van Den Berg, Williams;

Beerens, Kelly, McCleary;



S. Moore; Cooper, Watson; Swift, Obita, Meite; Samuel

Preview: Mourinho looking to make Stam’s return an unhappy one

Old Trafford, Manchester

Emirates FA Cup 2016/17

Saturday 7th January 2017 – KO 12:30 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Andre Marriner

Assistant Referees: Simon Bennett and Edward Smart

Fourth Official: Graham Scott

Manchester United face Championship side Reading in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday afternoon at Old Trafford in a match which will welcome back two former United players. Jaap Stam, the Reading manager will lead his team out in the lunchtime kick-off, vying to get his side into the fourth round of the domestic competition, knocking the holders out in their first round. It may seem unlikely though with United resurgence this season and the fact they are on a 13 match unbeaten run, winning their last seven matches in a row, six of those in the Premier League. Jose Mourinho’s side is expected to find an easy way to dispatch the Berkshire side, who used to play in the Premier League but are looking for a way back this season, occupying third place in the Championship in their bid for automatic promotion.

United have been boosted with both Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw being back in training, whether both will be fit enough to play a part against Reading will remain to be seen, but United do face Hull City in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday evening, so fitness issues aside, should see both return for at least that match, ahead of the Liverpool clash in the league a week on Sunday, which will need to see United at their best in order to show Jurgen Klopp’s side that winning at Old Trafford may well be a thing of the past for his side, who have not won at Old Trafford since their 3-0 victory on the 16th March 2014 which was played with David Moyes unknowingly having just over a month left of his tenure at the club. United will need to carry on their good form, working their way back into the top four this season, which is definitely a possibility.

Stam returning to Old Trafford may not be seen as a big deal for some as he has played for the Manchester United Legends teams and also featured at the stadium in various charity matches, but returning in an official capacity since his departure from the club will be good to see. Stam does not like talking about the reasons he left the Theatre of Dreams and neither does Sir Alex Ferguson, especially after clear-the-air-talks happened between the two, who have since buried the hatchet. Stam, speaking about the fallout with Sir Alex Ferguson, which saw him leave the Old Trafford club prematurely and how he and Fergie are both sick and tired of the chatter about it, said:

“I get sick of it, Fergie gets sick of it. United maybe get sick of it sometimes. I talk to the press and sometimes I get a question about what happened, again. You try to give a decent answer, but they always try to find a way of making it interesting. I’m not focusing on what happened when I was a player, or what the papers say. It’s not going to be an emotional return in the sense I’m going to be crying. It’s nice to go back. I love the club, I love the fans and I had a great time there. But this game is not about me, it’s about Reading facing Manchester United at Old Trafford. People don’t need to write about me, they need to write about the team and what they can do against such big opponents.”

Manchester United Form: WWWWW

West Ham United 2-0 W, Middlesbrough 2-1 W, Sunderland 3-1 W, West Bromwich Albion 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 2-1 W

Manchester United are in some fine form heading into 2017 winning their last six Premier League matches, seven matches in all competitions and also being on a 13 match unbeaten run. The start of the season was a good one for United, but problem reared their heads, things were down and then up again. United seem to have recovered from the problems really well, starting a run at the best possible time. Retaining the Emirates FA Cup will be one of the targets this season, ensuring the club wins at least one trophy. It is very much possible that trophies do finish the season at the Theatre of Dreams with United still fighting on all four fronts, with work to do in the league, although that is unlikely right now being ten points from the top of the league, but anything can happen in football.

Reading Form: WWWLW

Bristol City 3-2 W, Norwich City 3-1 W, Blackburn Rovers 3-2 W, Leeds United 2-0 L, Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 W

Reading has had a good start to the season under the guidance of former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam. His side has played 24 matches in the Championship this season, winning 14, drawing four and losing six. Reading sits in third place in the league, six points clear of Derby County who are seventh meaning they have a good chance of finishing in a play-off position this season, providing their form in the league does not drop. In their last three matches, Reading have won, scoring three goals in each game. In their last five matches, Reading have won four and lost once, which is some great form, but their work will be cut out against this resurgent Manchester United side, who I doubt will have many changes in order to keep momentum this season.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

18 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 6 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 5 – Anthony Martial, 4 – Marcus Rashford, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Wayne Rooney, 1 – Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Own Goal, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling

Reading Top Scorers:

8 – Garath McCleary, 7 – Yann Kermorgant, 5 – Roy Beerens, 4 – John Swift, 3 – Callum Harriott, Danny Williams, 2 – George Evans, Paul McShane, Dominic Samuel, 1 – Chris Gunter, Liam Kelly, Liam Moore, Stephen Quinn, Joey van den Berg

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Joel Pereira

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Injuries and Suspensions: Luke Shaw (groin), Wayne Rooney (thigh)

Reading Squad:

Manager: Jaap Stam

Goalkeepers: Ali Al-Habsi, Anssi Jaakkola, Stuart Moore, Luke Southwood, Joe Tupper

Defenders: Chris Gunter, Jake Cooper, Paul McShane, Jordan Obita, Liam Moore, Zak Jules, Tyler Blackett, Danzell Gravenberch, Tennai Watson, Shane Griffin, Niall Keown, Axel Andresson, Gabriel Osho, Omar Richards, Thomas McIntyre, Ramarni Medford-Smith, Sindri Scheving

Midfielders: Joey van den Berg, George Evans, Roy Beerens, John Swift, Garath McCleary, Callum Harriott, Sandro Wieser, Stephen Quinn, Danny Williams, Josh Barrett, Jake Sheppard, Liam Kelly, Andrew Rinomhota, Harrison Bennett, Ryan East, Terence Vancooten, Tyler Frost

Forwards: Joseph Mendes, Deniss Rakels, Dominic Samuel, Yann Kermorgant, Yakou Méïte, Andrija Novakovich, Harry Cardwell, Sam Smith, Daniel Loader

Injuries and Suspensions: N/A

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 4-0 Reading

copyright: JW