Wokingham Today

Clement confident Royals can avoid relegation


NEW READING manager Paul Clement says he is fully confident he will keep the Royals in the Championsh­ip this season.

The former Derby County and Swansea City boss was unveiled as Jaap Stam’s successor on Friday afternoon having been handed a threeyear deal, but faces a tough task to keep Reading afloat.

The Royals have won just one of their last 18 league fixtures since November and sit only three points clear of the relegation zone.

But Clement says he was not put off by the club’s perilous position.

“There was no hesitation on my part to come here and as soon as the opportunit­y became available, we wanted to make it happen,” he said.

“I’m fully confident that this club is going to be in the Championsh­ip, actually I have no doubt that we will be.

“We’ve got eight games to go, we’re going to win a good amount of those and we’re going to be playing in the Championsh­ip next year.”

He added: “It’s a really good opportunit­y.

“It’s a club I’ve always respected, going back many years to when I was involved in youth football, coming across Reading’s academy which has always been very strong and has got a rich tradition of bringing players through.

“But also at senior level as well they’ve always been very competitiv­e at this level, obviously had Premier League experience as well more recently.

“Obviously there’s an immediate aim to secure the club in the Championsh­ip. Then beyond that there’s a lot of ambition to take this club further forward.”

Gourlay worked at Chelsea at the same time as Clement, where he was assistant manager to Carlo Ancelotti, helping the Blues to a league and FA Cup double in 2010.

And the Scot was thrilled to quickly tie up a deal for the 46-year-old.

“Myself and the owners are absolutely delighted to secure somebody with the pedigree of Paul,” said Gourlay.

“Paul has come in for the long term.

“We’re a forward looking club and we’ve got a forward looking manager. That’s very, very important to us.”

Reading also confirmed that assistant boss Andries Ulderink and first team coach Said Bakkati have left the club along with Stam but fellow coaches Dave Beasant and Michael Gilkes will continue in their roles.

PAUL CLEMENT delivered a confident performanc­e in his first press conference as Reading boss.

The 46-year-old replaced the outgoing Jaap Stam last week, signing a threeyear contract, and has eight games to stop the Royals’ worrying slide towards the Championsh­ip relegation zone.

Since November, Stam had only presided over one league victory in 18 attempts which sees Reading now sitting 20th in the table, just three points clear of the bottom three.

But Clement, who started the season in the Premier League as manager of Swansea City, insisted he has no worries about ending the campaign in League One and has ambitious plans to take the Royals back into the top flight.

“They were very close last season, just penalty kicks away from the

Premier League,” said Clement.

“That’s where the club want to be and that’s the ambition I have to do as well, to coach at that level.

“99% of my concentrat­ion now is on the next eight games. If I’m thinking about the other 1%, it’s to move this club forward and we want to take it into the top league.

“How long is that going to take? We’re not sure because it’s a big test.

“There’s a lot of other really good clubs at this level that want to go to the Premier League.

“But we believe that we have the infrastruc­ture in place to be able to do that and moving to a new training ground in the imminent future, these are all positive things to be able to attract good players.

“We want to build on the squad and improve them, but the focus has to be on the next eight games.”

As well as managing in the

Premier League with Swansea, Clement also has Championsh­ip experience with 33 games in charge of Derby County, where he was sacked in February 2016 despite the Rams sitting fifth in the table.

Aside from those two roles, Clement has spent much of his career as a number two at some of the biggest clubs in the world with spells at Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

And he feels this current Reading squad can do a lot better than it has done so far this season.

“It’s a team that have underachie­ved this season,” said Clement.

“Now we need to get them playing to their potential and if we do that, we’ll be competitiv­e against anybody.

“I’ll be telling the players that belief, positivity and confidence are all very important things.

“I think these are all things that have been damaged.”

Following his dismissal from Swansea in December, Clement had been out of work until he got the call from chief executive Ron Gourlay.

And he says he could not wait to get back involved.

“My house couldn’t be tidier, my car couldn’t be any cleaner and the grass is looking wonderful, but it’s time for me to get back coaching football,” he said.

“It was three months and that three months was too long.

“I think managers have always got a point to prove.

“The way I look at it is I have a burning ambition to be successful.

“I will be the judge of whether I am successful or not, I won’t allow anyone else to make that decision for me.”

Clement’s first game in charge will be this Friday’s visit of Queens Park Rangers to Madejski Stadium (5.30pm) before a trip to promotion hopefuls Aston Villa on Tuesday (7.45pm).

 ?? Picture: Phil Creighton ?? Paul Clement was unveiled as new Royals boss last Friday
Picture: Phil Creighton Paul Clement was unveiled as new Royals boss last Friday
 ?? Pictures: Phil Creighton ?? Paul Clement holds up his new home shirt as he is unveiled to the press
Pictures: Phil Creighton Paul Clement holds up his new home shirt as he is unveiled to the press
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