(Picture: Action Images via Reuters)
Reading boss Jaap Stam is determined to win the Championship play-offs as he fears losing his best players if the side don’t get promoted to the Premier League.
The Royals sealed third place in the second-tier with a 4-2 win over Burton on the final day of the season, and face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday as they attempt to reach the top-flight.
It has been a remarkable first season for Stam at the Berkshire club, with the Dutchman transforming Reading from a struggling side last year to genuine promotion candidates this year.
However, Stam would not have been able to do that without the help of some investment, and brilliant form from players such as goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi and forward Garath McCleary, and he said: “If you want to make steps yourself as a club, you don’t want to sell your best players.
“Sometimes you can have things too quick, but if the opportunity’s there to do things well, you need to enjoy it and that’s what we’re doing.”
If promotion does come too early for Reading this season, not many will begrudge the fact they have had an excellent season, with many awarding plaudits to Stam and the way he has his players performing.
Nevertheless, the former Manchester United defender is not interested in praise, and is focused completely on getting the Royals back into the Premier League, either this season or next.
But after such a tough division this season, the Championship is only set to get tougher next season and Stam is desperate to keep his prized assets if his team don’t reach the top-flight.
“This season, a lot of players have stepped up, they’ve shown themselves and there’s been a lot of interest from other clubs in the league,” said Stam.
“So, it’s very important that if someone goes and I understand at times clubs need money, that you can spend that money as well.
“With the clubs coming down to the Championship and those who’ve stayed down and shown intention to invest, the top 10 if you look at it money-wise, it’s going to be very difficult to get into the top six for the teams who are not able to spend a lot of money.”