CHRIS Gunter believes Jaap Stam lost his job at Reading FC because the players let him down.

Stam, who joined the Royals in 2016 and steered them to a third-placed finish in his first season, was replaced by Paul Clement last week.

The change came after a horrendous run of results which sees Reading hovering just three points above the relegation zone with eight games to go.

And vice captain Gunter, 28, reflected on the club's decision to part ways with Stam.

"Jaap deserved a lot better," admitted the apologetic Welshman.

"It's a real blow that a change has been made."

Reading had won just one game in 18 when Stam left the Royals by mutual consent last week.

Royals' chief executive Ron Gourlay insisted the club's Chinese owners had given the Dutchman as much time as they could to turn things around.

But Wales international Gunter, who recently became his nation's most capped outfield player during the China Cup tournament, hailed Stam's efforts and believes he has all the attributes to reach the very top.

BBC Radio Wales also quoted him as saying: "Jaap Stam is the best club manager I've worked for.

"The things he did for the club, the squad and for players personally were really refreshing.

"There's no doubt in my mind - and this is just my opinion - we let him down as a squad badly this season."

Gunter is set to return from international duty to join the Royals at the Hogwood Park training ground this week.

His focus will then turn to Friday when Reading face Queens Park Rangers at home in Clement's first game in charge (5.30pm ko).

Speaking about the new boss Clement, Gunter told BBC Radio Wales: "I've heard some very good things about him as there's obviously lots of people around this Wales squad who've worked with him.

"I'm excited - there's a big end to the season and we need to get results as we're not in the greatest position."

Wales were beaten 1-0 by Uruguay in the China Cup final yesterday, having thrashed China 6-0 in their opening match.

Gunter won his 86th cap in the victory over China, beating Gary Speed's record as his country's most capped outfield player.