After 72 days, it is that time of year again. Attention turns away from last season and onto the new season...THIS season.

With attention normally on those on the field, the Reading Chronicle has taken a look at those in the dugouts, the managers.

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Barnsley- Darrell Clarke

A summer appointment at Oakwell after the dismissal of Neill Collins before the Tykes’ failed promotion attempt, Clarke is well-versed in League One. Taking charge of bottom club Cheltenham Town last season after a run of no wins, or goals, in nine matches- he managed to keep the Robins in with a shout of survival up until the final day.

Ultimately succumbing to relegation, he did enough to earn another shot in the third tier. The Royals drew 2-2 with Cheltenham at Whaddon Road under Clarke last season, with Wade Elliott in charge for the reverse fixture.

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Birmingham City- Chris Davies

Blues are back in the third tier for the first time in over 30 years this season after finally running out of lives in the Championship. It will be a familiar face in the opposing dugout for the opening game of the season, which will be Welshman Davies’ first match in charge of the club. Captain of the Reading reserves as a youngster, injuries cut his professional career short. However, the former Tottenham Hotspur coach did return to Berkshire in 2016 as one of Brian McDermott’s coaches. A disciple of former Royal Brendan Rodgers, it is Davies’ first managerial role.

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Blackpool- Neil Critchley

Beating Blackpool 3-1 on the final day of last season, former Liverpool Under-21 coach Critchley has been a regular against Reading down the years. He has faced the Royals with Liverpool, QPR and Blackpool in the last decade.

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Bolton Wanderers- Ian Evatt

EFL regular as a player, 42-year-old Evatt hadn’t come up against Reading in the dugout until last season. Highly successful with Barrow and Bolton, the Trotters fell at the final hurdle against Oxford United at Wembley. With a win apiece last season, the two sides with lots of history will meet again soon.

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Bristol Rovers- Matt Taylor

A largely lower-league journeyman during both his playing career and management career, Taylor has faced the Royals more in the dugout than on the grass. First meeting in 2022/23 with Rotherham United, Reading beat the Millers with a last-minute Tyrese Fornah goal but still suffered relegation. Replacing Joey Barton at the Memorial Stadium midway through last season, Taylor’s Pirates lost 2-0 to the Royals in April.

Burton Albion- Mark Robinson

Narrowly missing out on meeting Reading in a pre-season friendly during 2022, having been sacked four months earlier, Robinson is yet to face off against a Royals first-team side. Enjoying two years with the Chelsea Academy, strangely the two sides never met and so Robinson, only appointed with the Brewers last month, is yet to meet Reading despite his vast experience in the game.

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Cambridge United- Garry Monk

An old foe, Monk’s body infamously prevented Jem Karacan from completing a remarkable comeback in the 2011 play-off final, with Monk’s Swansea ending up 4-2 victors at Wembley. Off the pitch, perhaps the most heated battle came in 2016/17 when Reading and Leeds United were vying for promotion to the Premier League. Winning a game apiece in the head-to-head, the Royals reached Wembley while Leeds finished seventh. Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Cambridge have all since visited RG2 with Monk at the helm.

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Charlton Athletic- Nathan Jones

Similar to Monk, Jones has been in charge of multiple clubs against Reading. Perhaps the best, from a Reading perspective, is the 5-0 win against Luton Town in 2021. Stoke City and Charlton have both made the trip and lost, against the Royals under Jones.

Crawley Town- Scott Lindsay

A non-league journeyman, Lindsay did a remarkable job of taking Crawley back into the third tier against a backdrop of fan scepticism against the ownership. With seven of the side which won the play-offs since sold on, perhaps fans were right to be wary. This season will be the first time Lindsay will have faced off against the Royals.

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Exeter City- Gary Caldwell

A regular opponent against Reading during his playing days, most notably with Wigan Athletic, Caldwell has won one of his three meetings against Reading from the dugout. Benefitting from a last-minute winner at St James Park in August, the Royals embarrassed the Grecians 9-0 in the EFL Trophy in September before earning a 3-2 win at the SCL Stadium on New Year’s Day.

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Huddersfield Town- Michael Duff

Playing for just two clubs in his whole career, Duff came up against Reading for both Cheltenham and Burnley-including both legs of a Championship play-off semi-final with the Clarets. A successful boss with his first club, spells with Barnsley and Swansea were less so and both in different divisions to the Royals.

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Leyton Orient- Richie Wellens

Wellens, whose son Charlie is in the Reading Academy, was unbeaten last year as the O’s won and drew with Reading after winning promotion from League Two. Having previously been in charge of sides in League One and League Two, Wellens hadn’t come up against Reading as a boss until last season.

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Lincoln City- Michael Skubala

A well-respected coach at Leeds, Skubala took his first leap into first-team management with Lincoln. Taking the Imps to seventh, which included a remarkable run of 16 matches unbeaten, Skubala drew both fixtures with the Royals.

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Mansfield Town- Nigel Clough

A legend as a player and now a veteran manager, Clough first took charge against a Reading side as Derby County boss back in November 2009. Often remaining in the second and third tiers, he has lost three out of four fixtures as Burton Albion boss, famously winning 1-0 with the Brewers at a packed-out SCL Stadium to celebrate its 500th competitive fixture.

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Northampton Town- Jon Brady

Another whose career had rarely taken him above non-league football, as a player and manager, Brady’s first meeting with Reading came in a 3-1 victory for the Cobblers in October 2023. Reading won the reverse meeting, a big step toward securing survival in League One.

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Peterborough United- Darren Ferguson

An absolute stalwart of the third and second tiers, the son of Sir Alex is now in his fourth stint at London Road. Ferguson won his first Championship match as a manager against Reading way back in September 2009 and has met the Royals semi-regularly in the 15 years which have followed.

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Rotherham United- Steve Evans

A pantomime villain across non-league and the EFL for the last 30 years, Evans has only been a regular against Reading in the last decade with the likes of Rotherham, Leeds and Stevenage. Winning home and away against Evans’ ‘Boro’ last season, he famously dubbed the fans’ post-match celebrations as ‘World Cup stuff.’

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Shrewsbury Town- Paul Hurst

Another lower league regular, Hurst is a hero at Shrewsbury and returned midway through last season. Sacked not long before he could face Reading in the Championship with Ipswich Town, Hurst has won his only meeting, a topsy-turvy 3-2 at the SCL Stadium last season.

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Stevenage- Alex Revell

On the team sheet against Reading on occasion for the likes of Rotherham and Cardiff, the former striker has recently been named Evans’ replacement at Stevenage. On the coaching staff for last season’s meetings, 40-year-old Revell has 79 managerial games to his name and none involved the Royals.

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Stockport County- Dave Challinor

Challinor will have come up against the Royals in the 1990s with Tranmere Rovers, but as a manager, his career has consisted of a meteoric rise with Stockport from National League to League One in three years. Successful spells at the helm of Fylde and Hartlepool United also ensured his paths have not crossed with Reading in the last three decades.

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Wigan Athletic- Shaun Maloney

Another, like Exeter’s Caldwell, who was a regular against Reading in an era of success for both the Royals and the Latics. As manager, Maloney experienced relegation to League One after a 1-1 draw in May 2023, with Reading following suit a few days later. Last season, it was one win apiece between the two former Premier League sides.

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Wrexham- Phil Parkinson

A man who needs no introduction, Parky played over 300 times for Reading and is constantly touted for the job at his old club when it becomes available. With multiple promotions and cup runs under his name as a boss, Parkinson has faced off against his beloved Reading with Bradford City and Bolton Wanderers.

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Wycombe Wanderers- Matt Bloomfield

‘Mr Wycombe’ has played against AND managed against Reading in his 21-year relationship with the Chairboys. Last season saw a win apiece for the near-neighbours.