By Harry Sykes
Jaap Stam has claimed Leeds are a “quality” team in an apparent U-turn from his dismissive comments of a few months ago.
The Reading manager slammed the playing style of Garry Monk’s side as “not my cup of tea” in the wake of Leeds’ 2-0 win at Elland Road in December.
But Stam offered a more glowing verdict of the Yorkshire giants as the two sides begin to set their sights on a mouthwatering showdown at the Madejski Stadium next weekend.
Reading went into a fortnight’s international break on a high thanks to a 2-0 victory at play-off rivals Sheffield Wednesday, while Leeds are fourth following an even more notable win against automatic promotion chasers Brighton.
Both sets of supporters will remember December’s clash, when Stam’s side had 77 per cent of the possession away from home but goals from Chris Wood and Souleymane Doukara secured three points for the hosts.
That led to chants of “boring, boring Reading” from the Leeds faithful followed by a critical response from Stam, who said of Monk’s approach: “In terms of way of playing, it’s not my cup of tea.”
Monk immediately hit back, stating: “I felt a bit embarrassed for him, we were happy with our performance.”
But former Dutch defender and Manchester United legend Stam offered a more positive assessment of Leeds as the two sides turn their attention to the televised match next Saturday evening.
“It’s nice to go into the international break after a win, especially against a side like Sheffield Wednesday,” Stam said to the Reading Chronicle. ““Next we have Leeds who are a quality team doing very well.
“They are close competition for us so it would be nice to get a good result against them.
“We are already thinking about the game and we will see how everybody is after the international matches.”
Leeds are well placed to secure a play-off spot, but have not given up hope of automatic promotion even though they remain eight points adrift of Brighton in second place with just eight matches of the campaign remaining.
In other Leeds transfer news, the club have sealed an out-of-window midfielder transfer.