With little more than a month to go until the curtain-raiser against Peterborough United on August 5, attention starts to turn back to the pitch and footballing matters.

In a fresh league, including two sides who have never played Reading, the 2023/24 League One campaign presents plenty of new away days and fresh faces to Royals supporters.

Take a look below at the other men to be in the opposing dugout at the SCL Stadium- except from Barnsley, who are yet to announce a replacement since Michael Duff moved to Swansea City.

Reading Chronicle:

Blackpool- Neil Critchley

One of the more familiar faces, Reading came up against Critchley as recently as January.

A highly rated coach with Liverpool, the 44-year-old first took charge at Bloomfield Road in 2020 and led the club to the Championship via the play-offs in 2021.

Stabilising in the second tier, doing the double over the Royals, Critchley made the unusual decision of resigning in 2022 to become Steven Gerrard’s assistant at Aston Villa.

Last just four months, he replaced Michael Beale at QPR in December. Winning just one of his 12 matches with the struggling Hoops, he was sacked in February and returned to the Tangerines over the summer after their relegation from the Championship.

Reading Chronicle:

Bolton Wanderers- Ian Evatt

An experienced central defender in his playing days, the 41-year-old stepped in management in 2018 with Barrow in the National League.

Learning his trade, he took the North-East side back into the Football League for the first time in nearly half a century in 2020- earning the tag ‘Barrow-celona’ for their playing style.

Bolton came in for Evatt in 2020 and he took the Trotters up from League Two in his first season.

Finishing ninth in 2021/22, last season saw the former Premier League regulars win the EFL Trophy but miss out on their aim of promotion- finishing fifth and losing to Barnsley in the play-off semi-final.

Reading Chronicle:

Bristol Rovers- Joey Barton

A man who needs no introduction, the former England midfielder has a reputation that precedes him- and for good reason.

As a manager, he is in his second job after having three years in charge at Fleetwood Town.

Impressing with the Cod Army, sitting 10th in League One when he departed in January 2021, the Pirates came calling.

Starting off slowly, ‘the Gas’ were relegated on his watch at the end of the 2020/21 campaign but pushed for promotion throughout in the 2021/22 season.

An incredible 7-0 win over already-relegated Scunthorpe United on the final day put Barton’s side ahead of Northampton Town on the final day to seal an immediate return to the third tier.

Enduring a middling season, Rovers finished 17th upon their League One return.

Reading Chronicle:

Burton Albion- Dino Maamria

A non-league stalwart as a player, the Tunisian is best-known for being Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s assistant.

The 49-year-old has learned his trade as a coach up and down the Football League and has taken charge of Stevenage, Oldham Athletic and the Brewers in his own right.

Hasselbaink resigned at the Pirelli Stadium in September and Maamria stepped in.

In the relegation for all bar one of the first 27 matchdays last season, just three defeats from February onwards saw the Midlands outfit pull themselves away from danger and into the safety of 15th.

Reading Chronicle:

Cambridge United- Mark Bonner

Something of a local hero, Bonner has spent over a decade at the Abbey Stadium in various forms.

First moved onto the coaching staff in 2018, the 37-year-old took charge of the team in 2020 following Colin Calderwood’s departure.

His first season could not have gone better, leading the U’s to promotion to League One for the first time in almost 20 years.

Finishing in a comfortable 14th-place for their first season back, last season was a struggle.

Two wins in their final three matches, including a crucial win at fellow strugglers Accrington Stanley, was enough for Cambridge to sneak into 20th and remain in League One.

Reading Chronicle:

Carlisle United- Paul Simpson

Another local boy done good, Simpson had a distinguished career with the likes of Oxford United and Derby County as a player- earning England Under-21 caps.

Into his 20th year as a boss, Simpson earned three promotions with the Cumbrians during his first spell from 2003 until 2006, and another upon his return last season via the play-offs.

Not only a success at club level, the North-East native was also in charge of the England Under-20s side which won the World Cup in 2017- with a squad including Royals such as Luke Southwood and Ovie Ejaira.

Reading Chronicle:

Charlton Athletic- Dean Holden

A popular ‘number two’ at Bristol City, the 43-year-old got his first shot in the hot seat while at Ashton Gate.

Starting the 2020/21 season like a house on fire, the Robins won their first four matches and were in the play-offs until December.

However, a run of six straight defeats in February saw him lose his job. Returning to the grass the following year, as a coach at Stoke City, but this was short-lived following Michael O’Neil’s sacking.

Taking over at the Valley in December, the Addicks finished 10th in League One.

Reading Chronicle:

Cheltenham Town- Wade Elliott

A tough act to follow, Elliott arrived after Michael Duff moved to Barnsley to end his four-year managerial stint.

Only having experience as a youth coach, the former Bournemouth star was an unknown quantity at Whaddon Road.

A 16th-place finish was another solid season for the Robins, who were in just their second season of third tier football since 2009.

Reading Chronicle:

Derby County- Paul Warne

Regular opponents on the pitch and in the dug-out, Warne’s Rotherham United hit Reading for four last summer.

Ending a 13-year association with the Millers last year, Warne had worked up from a fitness coach to first-team manager and masterminded three promotions to the Championship at the New York Stadium.

Derby, recovering from their own financial stresses in recent seasons, made a good attempt at returning to the second tier at the first attempt- finishing seventh and narrowly missing out on the play-offs.

Reading Chronicle:

Exeter City- Gary Caldwell

Celtic and Wigan Athletic legend as a player, Caldwell has already managed for eight years despite being only 41.

Made interim manager with the Latics in relegation trouble in 2015, the Scotland defender led the club back to the Championship at the first attempt the following season.

Sacked with the club struggling in the second tier in October 2016, unsuccessful stints followed at Chesterfield and Partick Thistle as he returned to coaching from 2021 until 2022.

Taking over from Matt Taylor in October, the Grecians made a promising return to League One and finished 14th.

Reading Chronicle:

Fleetwood Town- Scott Brown

A Celtic legend with almost 500 appearances, the former Hibernian midfielder was very close to joining Reading in the Premier League in 2007.

Moving into management for the first time last season, the Scot built on 2021/22’s 20th-place finish to almost hit the top-half, finishing 13th.

The Royals have never met the Cod Army, with the current guise of the club only 26 years old.

Reading Chronicle:

Leyton Orient – Richie Wellens

A man heavily linked with taking over at Reading in the summer, Wellens was a tenacious midfielder in his playing days and expects his players to be the same.

Winning League Two twice as a manager, including with Swindon Town alongside Noel Hunt, the 43-year-old won the fourth-tier title last year with the East-London outfit.

Onto his fifth managerial job since 2017, he averages a 40 per cent win ratio.

Reading Chronicle:

Lincoln City- Mark Kennedy

A player for over 20 years, winning 34 caps for Northern Ireland and playing for Liverpool, the 47-year-old has very little managerial experience.

Spending almost a decade in youth set-ups, he took charge of 12 games at Macclesfield Town in 2020 before their relegation to the National League and returned to coaching until last summer.

Lincoln built impressively in his first season, moving from 17th and into the top half with an 11th-place finish.

Reading Chronicle:

Northampton Town- Jon Brady

An Australian with a long playing career in the lower leagues of England, the 48-year-old had six years in charge of Brackley Town before departing in 2015.

Moving to the Cobblers, first as Under-16 coach, he was given interim charge in 2021 as Northampton were relegated to League Two.

Pushing hard for an immediate return, Bristol Rovers’ crazy 7-0 win over Scunthorpe United on the final day pushed them into the play-offs- where they lost to Mansfield Town.

Coming back stronger, Northampton earned promotion back to League One last season after a third-place finish.

Reading Chronicle:

Oxford United- Liam Manning

One who did not have much of a playing career, 37-year-old Manning spent four years as West Ham Under-23 manager before moving to Iceland to take over Lommel.

Bringing a remarkable change, the club moved from bottom to third place in the space of one campaign, making other owners sit up and take notice.

MK Dons took the plunge, and it paid off, finishing third with a whopping 89 points. However, Scott Twine and Co. were unable to overcome Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers in a hotly contested play-off semi-final.

Struggling to replace Burnley-bound Twine the following campaign, the Dons were relegated last season and Manning only lasted until December.

Oxford found themselves in relegation trouble too, but Manning arrived in March and three losses in the final nine matches was enough form to survive.

Reading Chronicle:

Peterborough United- Darren Ferguson

From good stock, the son of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Darren is in his fourth stint in charge of the Posh.

Winning promotion from League Two in his first full season, they earned back-to-back promotions the following year to the Championship.

Proving less than effective in the Championship, he departed in December 2009 and endured a difficult time at Preston North End.

Returning in January 2011, Peterborough beat Huddersfield Town in the play-offs to mark Ferguson’s third promotion with the side- leaving again in 2015 and going on to win League Two promotion with Doncaster United.

A fourth Posh promotion followed in 2021, before his ability at Championship level was once again on show and the 51-year-old was sacked again.

Not managing anyone else in between the third and fourth spells, he was reappointed in January. Taking the club from eighth to sixth, they looked set to reach the play-off final last season as they took a 4-0 lead into the second leg against Sheffield Wednesday.

A scintillating tie finished 5-5 on aggregate, with the Owls winning on penalties and going on to beat Barnsley in the final, but it was enough to give Ferguson a new three-year deal at London Road.

Reading Chronicle:

Portsmouth- John Mousinho

A regular defender in the Football League for 15 years, the 37-year-old is just six months into his first managerial role.

Taking over from Danny Cowley in January, Pompey lost just four games in the second half of the season but still missed out on the play-offs and finished eighth.

Busy in the transfer market, they have already brought in seven players as they look to return to the Championship for the first time in a decade.

Reading Chronicle:

Port Vale- Andy Crosby

A lower league stalwart in his playing days, Crosby has spent much of his post-playing days as Nigel Adkins’ assistant.

Working with the former Reading boss at four clubs, including in Berkshire, he first arrived at Port Vale in 2021 to assist Darrell Clarke.

Clarke took compassionate leave after a family bereavement in 2022 and Crosby held the fort, ensuring the Valiants finished in the play-offs.

Leading the side out at Wembley, Vale cruised past Mansfield Town 3-0 to earn promotion to League One.

Clarke was sacked in April after two wins in 18 and Crosby, winning one of his final four matches, was offered the role on a permanent basis.

Shrewsbury Town- Matt Taylor

A Premier League regular in the 2000s, Taylor has been out of the management game since an eight-month spell at Walsall in 2021/22, winning nine of his 36 matches in charge.

Salop dismissed popular manager Steve Cotterill over the summer despite a strong 12th-place finish, now heading into the unknown.

Reading Chronicle:

Stevenage- Steve Evans

A vastly experienced boss with almost 30 years under his belt, Evans will be the ‘marmite’ character in the division.

Winning promotions with Boston United, Crawley Town, Rotherham United and Stevenage; the 60-year-old endured a difficult spell at Yorkshire giants Leeds United in 2015/16.

Keeping the Boro in League Two at the end of 2021/22, they finished second last year and marked a first return to the third tier since 2014.

Playing Reading as recently as last season, they knocked Paul Ince’s side out of the Carabao Cup with a late winner in round one.

Reading Chronicle:

Wycombe Wanderers- Matt Bloomfield

‘Mr Wycombe’, Bloomfield played over 500 times for the Chairboys in a 19-year stint from 2003 until 2022.

Earning his managerial stripes at Colchester United, he won nine of his 28 matches in the first half of last season before Wycombe came calling following the departure of club legend Gareth Ainsworth.

Winning only four of his 29 matches in charge at the end of last season, supporters will be hoping the former captain can build on a ninth-place finish.

Reading Chronicle:

Wigan Athletic- Shaun Maloney

In the SCL Stadium dugout for the final home match of last season, the former Latics favourite as a player is equally popular off the field.

The 40-year-old’s only prior managing experience was a 19-game spell at Hibernian in 2021/22, winning just six matches.

Already facing an uphill battle, Wigan will start the season on -8 points after a summer of upheaval off the field at the DW Stadium.