Paul McShane: Reading captain praises Jaap Stam for squad's transformation
Reading captain Paul McShane felt they "downed tools" towards the end of last season after an FA Cup exit, resulting in a mid-table Championship finish.
The Republic of Ireland defender, 31, is hoping to lead the Royals to the play-offs this season under Jaap Stam.
"There were lots of things going on towards the end of last season," McShane told BBC Radio Berkshire.
"But that's all in the past now," he added. "We've got a different set of players and different staff."
In a frustrating end to their Championship campaign last season, McShane and team-mate Danny Williams had to be separated during an on-pitch clash in a defeat at Middlesbrough in April.
A disappointing 17th-place finish was followed by then manager Brian McDermott being sacked after just six months in charge.
"I think after we went out of the FA Cup in the quarter-final to Crystal Palace, people downed tools," McShane confessed.
"Maybe people looked at the league table and thought we can't get to the play-offs. I think that was ruled out too quickly and when we went out of the FA Cup, people just weren't interested.
"I felt that was because a lot of players were either on loan or leaving in the summer."
Stam arrival brought immediate changes
McDermott was replaced by Jaap Stam as Reading manager in June and McShane admits the Dutchman's impact was immediate.
"First day of pre-season, you think you're going to be running, but we were working on shape straight away and I've never experienced that," he said.
"The gaffer has a philosophy and he's sticking to it. Everyone's on the same wavelength, we've got a structure, the mentality is much better and the people the manager's brought in have really added to it."
McShane identified striker Yann Kermorgant and defensive midfielder Joey van den Berg as two of the side's lynchpins.
"Yann at 36 wants to win every day in training," he said. "He's an angry Frenchman who just want to win no matter what.
"Lads like him are a massive part for a team that wants to do well."
Reading are fifth, eight points clear of seventh-placed Fulham, with eight games to play.