AFTER a hugely disappointing finish to last season’s campaign, Jaap Stam’s men must pick themselves up, dust themselves down, dry their eyes perhaps and get straight back to the new season, writes Ethan Stacey.

Realistically, Reading may struggle to compete at the same consistent standard as we did during the last campaign.

Our talismanic midfielder Danny Williams, central to our recent successes, has refused to sign a new deal yet and has been increasingly linked with a move to the Premier League.

If we fail to keep hold of Williams, we will need to look long and hard for a decent replacement.

Many fans I’ve spoken to since the play-off final defeat have voiced concerns at a shaky-looking defence, but I disagree with them.

Our defence may have leaked a few unnecessary goals – especially in the dire performance at Norwich – however, with Tiago Illori getting game time since his return from injury, Tyler Blackett looking more relaxed when under pressure and the return of captain Paul McShane, our prospects look promising.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading captain Paul McShane should be 100% fit for the start of the new season.

One thing I was full of praise for when Stam and technical director Brian Tevreden joined this time last year was their insistence on tieing down players to longer-term contracts.

This has brought stability and certainty among the players’ futures, making them want to perform for the club to secure a regular starting position.

Loanees come and go with little real motivation to perform as they are constantly thinking about their next move.

But players on at least a two-year contract know they will more than likely be at the same club next season, and therefore want to perform to a better standard.

The season before last we relied on loan-signings such as Matej Vydra, Ola John and Lucas Piazon for our creativity and stability.

But last season permanent signings such as Illori, Blackett and Joey van den Berg gave more certainty to the team, and this benefited us a lot, as seen by the massive improvement on final league positions.