With Middlesbrough only winning two out of their last six games the early season favorites have hit a stumbling block in their hopes to get into this seasons Sky Bet Championship play-off's.
Last season's play-off runners up Reading have suprised many with how they have underachieved throughout this term and with just one win in ten league games Jaap Stam, alongside Tony Pulis, is under pressure to get a result this weekend as the two teams clash.
Pulis calls for his players to improve in the final third ahead of tomorrows game.
In his pre-match press conference, the Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis talked about his opponents and how their team is a real threat. “They’ve got the same players as last season from when they nearly achieved promotion. We’ll see them tomorrow and we’ll have to be right on it.
“What we’ve got to do is play as well as what we’ve played in the other games with one exception and that is in the final third. We have got to be more clinical, we’ve got to take our chances.”
Pulis continued explained his happiness over capturing first team coach and ex-boro player Curtis Fleming from Queens Park Rangers, hoping that it can help spur the players along “I wanted someone alongside me who knows the area and the football club… I really do think it is important to understand the culture [of the north east] and the people of the area.”
Jaap Stam wants a reaction from his players after the teams 2-0 loss at home to Millwall last Saturday.
The Dutchman said “The players have reacted well. Of course, you can understand the disappointment that was there, but they had a little time away from the training pitch as they needed that to settle down after a period of games.
“And they reacted well. We spoke together about certain things and we have had a couple of very good training sessions already this week and hopefully that’s a positive thing for the game on Saturday."
Stam went on to praise his opponents but hopes his team can follow in the path of the eight teams that have gained points at The Riverside this season; “It’s a big club, everybody knows that they invested a lot of money at the beginning of the season to do well with the intention of hopefully getting back up to the Premier League.
“The quality within their squad is there, good players, they play in a certain way as well and they can make it difficult for every team. Other teams have had results over there though, so while it’s not going to be easy, we’ll be trying to do that too.”
Tony Pulis had more happy news this week with the successful appeal of Rudy Gestede’s red card in last week’s loss away to Norwich. Alongside the Benin internationals instant return Pulis commented on his deadline day additions; “The three boys that have come in: Martin [Cranie], Mo [Besic] and Jack [Harrison] have all trained and they’ve all had a good week with us as well, so we’d had a good look at them.
“Fingers crossed everyone is okay, everyone is fit for selection and we go out there and we play as well as what we have done in the other games with one exception, we take our chances.”
As for Jaap Stam he explained that “Tommy Elphick is out for a few weeks, Swifty [John Swift] is back not in full training sessions yet but he’s out on the pitch and doing some work with the squad.
“It’s the same with Omar Richards, who’s close to joining full training sessions with the squad and that’s a very good thing. The rest of the squad, most of them are fit, a couple of knocks here and there but they’re okay.”