Writer: Adam Jones
Reading Football Club. I’ve been supporting you since the age of seven. There’s been promotion, relegation, mediocrity and Play-Off pain. Whilst we haven’t experienced relegation in recent years, I’ve never felt more frustrated with my football club.
I remember the date: Tuesday 16th May 2017. We had just beaten Fulham in the Play-Off Final second leg to reach the Wembley Final.
That same evening, the takeover of the club by a Chinese brother and sister was finally confirmed after months of uncertainty. The previous owners had steadied the ship after Anton Zingarevich’s departure and it seemed like the Royals were heading for a brighter future.
Instead, we lost the Play-Off Final against Huddersfield Town and have never really recovered since then. Mismanagement, poor recruitment in several departments and underperforming players have caused our decline in the past couple of seasons.
We had (and still have) the commitment from the Chinese owners to be successful. It’s been the recruitment that’s really let the club down. From the appointment of former CEO Ron Gourlay, to the then-club record signing Sone Aluko in 2017 and subsequent Financial Fair Play troubles, all the potential that we had to get ourselves back to the top flight has seemingly gone down the drain.
The last few managerial appointments have not been ideal. I can forgive the Paul Clement appointment because he seemed like a promising young manager and had kept Swansea City in the Premier League in his last job, an achievement he repeated at Reading.
I also loved the football that we played under Jose Gomes in the second half of last season. However, his appointment was so risky and his tenure at Reading came to an end shortly after the beginning of this campaign. For the previous few seasons, we have been crying out for a Steve Bruce type of appointment, someone who has experience in the English leagues.
Whilst I appreciate that Dai Yongge wanted to play an attractive style of football, it just didn’t work. The latest appointment has been the most puzzling. Why replace Gomes with Mark Bowen, who hasn’t had any first team managerial experience? Not only this, he was the Sporting Director at the time of Gomes’ sacking.
Whilst Financial Fair Play might have made things slightly difficult, what we were crying out for was an experienced manager.
Attendances are down, optimism isn’t at its highest and people have become disillusioned with the club. This is not the club that I know. I know there’s been an effort to reconnect the community with the re-appointment of Nigel Howe – but recovering from the Ron Gourlay era and the last couple of seasons of disappointment is going to take a long time.
Has the appointment of Bowen helped? I’m not convinced. I do wish him the best of luck but he needs to avoid going on a losing run. The pressure was on Bowen from the very start, with mixed opinions on his appointment. If we go on a disappointing run in this Christmas period, his future could be in doubt.
That’s why it’s so important that we pick up as many points as possible between now and the end of the season, before we go back to the drawing board once again in the summer.