Former Reading FC captain Graeme Murty insists legendary manager Steve Coppell is ‘woefully underrated.’

Shedding light on the former Royals and Crystal Palace manager, on the 16th anniversary of Reading winning promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history, Murty had nothing but praise for the iconic leader of the famous record-breaking team of 2006.

Reminiscing exclusively with the Reading Chronicle, the former Scotland international said: “You won’t find anyone with a higher opinion of Coppell than the people who worked with him. I think he’s woefully underrated by people outside of the circle that have worked with him. The jobs that he’s done have been excellent but he’s a very understated person. He doesn’t shun or chase the limelight, he’s just content at being very good at his job.

“Coppell was much more considered and calmer, almost the disappointed dad rather than the angry one. You don’t want to let him down.

“Steve would wait until Monday and tell you what you did wrong. He might’ve done it [rowed] with someone else, but he knew different personalities needed different reactions.”

On this day in 2006, Reading recorded a 1-1 draw with Leicester City, which was enough to secure promotion to the top-flight of English football, the only side to do it before the clocks were put back.

Speaking on that team, which went on to amass 106 points, an English record, he continued: “The unique blend of the 106 team was a matter of addition and subtraction. There was a tweak and it was brought to its collective best at the same time. No matter what had gone before, the different ingredients for that mix were blended so well that it became so effective.

“It got better all the way through. When we won the league against Derby it wasn’t great, we had a good week knowing we were playing in the Premier League but we were flat and at half-time he said ‘that wasn’t my team, get out there and put together a performance that those people deserve’. We went on to win 5-0.

“We had the capacity to run over people when we were feeling confident. That team had a real point to prove, everyone said we were good but were waiting for us to blow up. I think it did the team a real disservice as there were superstars in that team and nobody got the credit.

“That was down to Steve’s personality as well. The apprentices did a really good skit at Christmas where they all pretended to be the coaching staff and the one that played Steve Coppell fell over a table. He deadpan did the voice and the one playing Kevin Dillon said, ‘oh gaffer be careful’ and the one playing Steve deadpan turned around and said, ‘Dill you know I never look at the table’. The place erupted and the person who laughed the most was Steve.”

After promotion the run continued, finishing a club record eighth in the top division. However, all good things must come to an end and eventually, the team was relegated after two seasons in the Premier League.

“That team were never comfortable", said the former Glasgow Rangers manager.

“Despite the fact we came eighth, a lot of people were disappointed we didn’t get Europe.  His aim was to stay in the Premier League and unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it.

“We got punished every time we made a mistake and that’s the difference with the Premier League. If you leave a gap, they are willing and able to take it. Whenever someone had the opportunity against us, we got punished that year.”

With this season marking the 150th anniversary of the club, for many it has been a time of reflection, and this is no different for the former full-back.

Reading Chronicle:

Above: Graeme Murty managed Glasgow Rangers 2017-2018 (credit: PA/Andrew Milligan)


After almost 400 club appearances, and two memorable goals to his name in blue and white, Murty joined Southampton in 2009.

Murty reflected: “I was very sad; you never want to leave but it meant a different challenge. When you look back at that Reading team, you’re content that the players that are left there have been brought up correctly, with the right habits and the right feeling for the club.

“When you walk away you think have you left the club in a better position than when you came in, giving it over to the likes of Jem [Karacan], [Adam] Federici and [Simon] Church, real down to earth, hard-working players who are determined to do well.”

Over a decade later, the figurehead of the most famous Reading squad still holds deep feelings for the club and is hoping they can turn around this season's form.

He concluded: “I love being back, I thoroughly enjoyed my time.

“Something’s not right because the club is struggling but there's seldom one thing. It can’t just be the players; it can’t just be the manager.

“If people feel disconnected there must be something behind that, but everyone wants to see the club be successful."