Football

Stam: United have rediscovered the winning feeling

Former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam went back to Old Trafford on Saturday and discovered a familiar vibe.

It had nothing to do with nostalgia, as he returned to his old stomping ground as Reading manager and oversaw his side's 4-0 loss in an FA Cup third-round tie.

Rather, he was referring to United's aura, one which the Red Devils had in abundance when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge and seemed to have lost since his retirement.

Stam should know. During his time at United from 1998 to 2001, he was on the losing side at Old Trafford on only three occasions.

And he believes that Jose Mourinho is restoring the winner's mentality United once oozed under his former boss Fergie.

"They've got a certain mentality now," Stam, 44, said.

"If you start winning games the belief is getting bigger and bigger with individuals.

"He's (Mourinho) the type of manager - and he's proven it in the past - he stands for his group, he gives them confidence.

They’ve got a certain mentality now... (Mourinho) knows how to play and what they need to do to get results. Eventually, he gets them.Reading manager Jaap Stam

"He knows how to play and what they need to do to get results. Eventually, he gets them.

"When you look at (Louis) van Gaal, and I still think he's a great manager, he tried to play in a certain way as well and it's not much different than how they play now.

"But it's also for a manager what you can give yourself to the team, how you can make players better, give them a certain belief that they are willing to perform for you and perform together.

"That's one of his many qualities."

Mourinho hailed his much-changed side for taking care of business with a "professional performance".

"It was very professional, I could feel it from the first minute, there were two big chances already to score," said the United boss.

"The team were intense, the team were dynamic, playing well and, as we expected, they were good with the ball, so when we gave them the chance to have the ball, they had it and they moved the ball, created not big chances but some attacking football.

STILL OPEN

"For a long time, the game was still open at 2-0. I'm really happy with our attitude.

"It just confirmed what I knew already (about the squad). People are very professional, people train so well and because they train so well, they can come here and perform the way they did."

The only negative note for United was the injury to Marcos Rojo, who had to be substituted during the first half.

Asked about the injury, Mourinho told MUTV: "I don't know, we have to wait a little bit." - WIRE SERVICES

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