Reading FC has once again found itself finishing in the bottom five. 

For three of the past six seasons, this has been the case. However, like with those previous four seasons, the club has managed to haul itself the correct side of the dreaded dotted line.

Where this term differs from past campaigns is that the years of poor planning are all going to come to a head at once.

As things stand, the club may not even be able to field a team come July, with 12 current first-team players and a whole host of academy lads out of contract. 

As has been a recurring theme in RG2 for the past handful of seasons, the club looks set to remain under a soft transfer embargo due to a breach of Profit and Sustainability laws - with the prospect of a suspended six-point deduction coming into play if the club fails to keep within the limits of the EFL's spending rules.

Added into this horrible mix of upheaval is the chance that current interim manager Paul Ince may decide to not hang around, leaving another individual to step into the burning building to try and put out the fires.

That being said, from ashes rise phoenixes, and no job is ever impossible.

I believe there are three main components that need to be sorted, and quickly, for the club to be given an opportunity to succeed next season.


Reading Chronicle:


Director of Football

For far too long now the club has seemingly lacked any direction. From Mr Dai’s overspending to the Thai owners' lack of spending, this club has been a hotch-potch of styles and identities ever since Sir John Madejski stepped back.

It is not to say that there haven’t had people in these roles (who can forget the likes of Ron Gourlay, Gianluca Nani and Brian Tevreden?) all of which have done a variation of CEO/Director of Football roles.

But this is the crux of the problem -- these are predominantly non-football people being left in a position to make football decisions.

Sir John always stated that he was not a ‘football man’, but he delegated and put faith in people that were.

The club needs someone at the top who knows the parameters to which they will be working and knows how to make the best of what the Royals have got. This person can then become the figurehead, managing both upwards and with the manager, to ensure the Royals are progressing with a clear style, a clear identity, and a clear plan.

There are many shouts from supporters that this would be a perfect role for the likes of Brian McDermott or Steve Coppell, and I would certainly not disagree that these types of roles would fit them well, especially McDermott given his successful past in scouting.

It just needs to be someone personable, who the supporters and the management team trust, to give the first-team boss the best possible chance of succeeding.

This will be challenging at this stage, with the pool available to us very limited, but if supporters can see that the club are building toward something, it is a start.

For too long we’ve been lurching from one style and one makeshift team to another. 

There needs to be an ethos, an identity, which starts from the very top and trickles down.


Reading Chronicle:


The Manager

Once the club has someone in place who has a realistic plan in action, it needs to sort out the manager. Always a tricky position to fill, it is no exact science, but whoever it is needs to be given parameters to work to and the chance to succeed. We can’t keep getting to February and changing. 

In my view, whoever is appointed full-time needs to be given just that -- time. An all-too little heard word in football, time is something which is not afforded to many managers in modern football, especially in this part of the South-East.

The Royals have had just two managers complete a full campaign since Nigel Adkins departed in 2014, Jaap Stam and Veljko Paunovic, but neither completed the second year.

This point harks back to the Director of Football/ CEO, whatever you want to label them as, the decision-makers.

Nobody can sit there and say there was a natural progression from the McDermott side of 2015/16 to the Jaap Stam team of 2016/17- and again with Stam to Paul Clement in 2018. There is no system, no style, no link whatsoever.

So, what do you end up with? A random collection of players to suit varying types of systems for various types of outcomes.

If the club had someone who understood football at the top, surely there would be some sort of pattern in recruitment - a plan.

Brighton and Swansea are two of the best, for me, at this.

I have never seen a side have such affinity with their manager as Swansea fans did with Russell Martin when the Welsh side came to RG2 earlier this month.

Despite throwing away a three-goal lead to draw 4-4 with the Royals, the Swans fans were, in general, walking away satisfied that things were progressing in the right way.

They played some amazing stuff in the first half, and I fully believe that we will see the Welsh outfit challenging the top six next season.

I would much rather see us try to build something than just lurch from one relegation battle to the next.

Speaking with my regular group of Reading-supporting friends, we are all in agreement that the club lacks an identity - a personality if you wish.

For the past eight or nine years, Jaap Stam aside, you could watch Reading one week from the next and not get what the plan was.

Is it to get from A to B as quickly as possible, is it to pass the opposition into oblivion, is it to get it wide and hit centre-forwards in the box?

Being the age I am, I grew up watching Coppell and McDermott’s compact defensive structures and fast wing play to feed hungry strikers. But I could also appreciate the beauty of Stam-ball when it was done correctly.

I would like to see Reading pick a style and run with it, make it their own, but give the individual behind the XI the best opportunity to show that it is working. 

It might not work, it might be the wrong fit. People make mistakes. But you then you have some platform to work from at the very least.

Is that too much to ask?


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And finally, when all of the structure and hierarchy is complete, you recruit to suit the style.

Now, this is not going to be easy under current restrictions, but I refuse to believe that it is impossible.

Reading is hardly the only club under financial strain, and as with every season’s end, several players will be released from other clubs - you’ve just got to look hard enough and convince these free agents that Reading is the place to be.

As with most of the Championship, Reading is a selling club. The Royals cannot afford to bring big stars in and let them run down their deals.

Except that is exactly what the club has done, and they are paying the price for it.

Liam Moore, the current outcast in the group, reportedly had offers from the likes of Brighton and Celtic in excess of £8m a few years ago.

Danny Loader was hours away from completing a multi-million-pound move to Wolves before the plug was pulled. That’s a lot of money for a Championship club and one which could, at the time, have been easily reinvested.

The past is the past and Reading can’t change it, but they can learn from it.

Yes, as fans we’d love to see Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite play out their days with Reading and score a hatful of goals, but at what cost? 


These are assets, they’re players. They come and they go. We all have our favourites, and it hurts when they leave, but there will be more where they came from if the Club recruits well enough.

We need to go back to selling players for profit, even if that means we as fans feel sad for a few days.

But as I said, this cannot be done until we have confidence and faith in those making the decisions. We need to be able to trust that the players coming in are, or at least have the potential to be, just as good as those that have left.


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Those are my views on where the Club needs to go from here. Now it’s time for action, and unfortunately, that is the part which is out of the fans’ hands.


But that’s all the fun of football, it’s a lifetime of happiness, hysteria, and helplessness.