Jaap Stam knows all about Manchester United. The towering Dutchman was a kingpin defender for the Red Devils during a trophy-laden stint at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Now Stam is poised to return to the Theatre of Dreams as head coach of Reading for the Royals’ third round FA Cup clash with United tomorrow — and he says he can’t wait to lock horns with Jose Mourinho and his star-studded outfit.
Stam is held in such high regard by the fans of United that he still regularly has his name chanted by the Stratford End hordes, and the adulation isn’t lost on the former Holland ace even if he will be trying to get one over on his former club come the kick-off.
“I have heard that they still sing my name from people who go over there. It is good and I like it. I have been back to United of course for charity games, but it is a bit different and it is a different crowd in those games as well.”
“So it will be nice to be back. When I left United, I never went back in a league game so it will good to be back to see the fans.”
Perhaps one person Stam won’t be too keen to see is United’s talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the big Swede desperate to add to his goal tally of 18 and counting so far this campaign.
“He is big and you see a lot of defenders playing against a big striker like that; they try to anticipate and get in front of him every time to win that ball off him. But sometimes you just need to be patient and let him have it. In the moment that he is trying to turn, then step in and try to win the ball.”
Meanwhile, it is reported that Mourinho is set to offer Michael Carrick a one-year extension to his £80,000-a-week United deal after the former England midfielder impressed with some decent displays.