Friday, 17 September 2021

Clement is focused onsurvival

PAUL CLEMENT will make his managerial debut for Reading today (Friday) as his side host QPR at the Madejski Stadium (kick-off 5.30pm).

He has had four days to work with the squad on the training ground since he was appointed as Jaap Stam’s successor after the Dutchman was sacked on Wednesday last week.

And Clement will be hoping to make an instant impact as his side lie 20th in the Championship, three points above the relegation zone with only eight games remaining.

One of his first tasks must be to pick up a group of players that must be low on confidence having won just once in Stam’s last 18 league games in charge.

The former Swansea City and Derby County manager says his only focus at present is to make sure the side stay in the league.

Clement, 46, says: “It is difficult – all games are difficult, whether that’s in the Premier League or Championship. I’ve experienced working in both. I had eight months, 30 games at Derby… every game was challenging.

“I look at these eight games and as I see it, if the players play to their potential and we manage to get some ideas across quickly, get an early win and build some confidence, they’re all winnable games. That’s the way I look at it.

“I’ll make it very clear; this won’t be me turning things around — it’ll be ‘us’. It’ll be a team effort. Myself working with Ron Gourlay and the ownership, all of the backroom staff and the players. It’ll be a collective effort.

He added: “Ninety-nine per cent of my concentration is on the next eight games. The other one per cent is about moving the club forward and getting into the top league.”

Meanwhile, Royals captain Chris Gunter says the players had “let down” Stam, who had put the side in contention for promotion last year.

“Jaap deserved a lot better,” the Wales full-back said. “It is a real blow that a change has been made. 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.”

But Gunter is optimistic remains optimistic that the Royals can finish the season strongly under Clement.

“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,” he said.

“I’m excited — there’s a big end to the season and we need to get results as were not in the greatest position.”

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