READING FC chief executive Ron Gourlay admitted Royals' owners gave former boss Jaap Stam as much time as possible to keep his job.

The 45-year-old left Royals by mutual consent last week and was replaced by Paul Clement after a barren run of results saw Reading plummet down the Championship table.

But chief executive Gourlay insisted the club gave Stam as much time as they could to turn things around and hailed the Manchester United legend's work ethic.

He said: "We have owners who wanted to give the utmost support to Jaap. He and his team did very, very well last season.

"They wanted to give every possible opportunity. In football the games start passing by and you're hoping for a change in luck and for the confidence to come back.

"There is never a good time and I explained to the owners that if you look at the records of when change has been made there's not always a guaranteed result.

"We got to a point where I had conversations with Jaap, we sat down together with the owners and we all decided that this was the best time for the change and to give an incoming manager the opportunity to try and take us forward.

"Everything that we could have given the past management, we gave them."

Reading Chronicle:

Paul Clement, left, and Ron Gourlay, right

Stam's departure also saw Andries Ulderink and Said Bakkati leave the club after less than two years in Berkshire.

And Gourlay hailed the Dutch trio's work ethic.

He continued: "I can't be critical of Jaap. I can't be critical of the two assistants who have also left the club in terms of their work.

"They put in a lot of work and desire but at the end of the day the results just didn't change. They recognised that too and together we decided this was the right time."

New boss Clement now has eight games to pick up the pieces left behind by Stam as Royals sit just three points above the relegation zone.

Royals face Queens Park Rangers at home on Friday but still have teams like Aston Villa, Fulham and Cardiff left to play.

But Gourlay insisted Clement is capable of turning Reading's fortunes upside down.

He concluded: "We all together felt that there are a big eight games ahead and maybe a fresh change and a fresh direction is the right thing for the football club.

"There are 24 points to be earned and that's where our focus is now.

Reading Chronicle:

Paul Clement addresses the media after taking over as Reading FC manager

"Everybody is well aware of the situation we are in, including Paul.

"We have to put what's happened behind us and keep a positive attitude.

"I have every confidence that the players, Paul's management and the staff can take this club through the difficult period."