After being dishonourably sacked from the Brisbane Roar job in only October, I moved on, looking for a new challenge. Funnily enough, Brian McDermott had just been sacked from Reading at the same time, and, after a very quick contract negotiation with Sir John Madejski, I took over the reigns at the Madejski Stadium.
(This Thread includes everything that I have done up to now).
Season 1: After joining from Brisbane, expectations weren't all that high to be honest. Reading were sitting in 23rd place with only 6 points from 11 games, only ahead of Watford on goal difference. The club was also in deep financial trouble, as McDermott had previously overspent, and many players were unsettled and unhappy.
After changing the team and formations around, we had our first game against Coventry. After going in level pegging at nil all, my half time words inspired the team on, and so, my first game in charge ended 2-0 Reading! Not bad, you might think, but we had another game against Leeds just 3 days later. So, we kicked off, with only a few minor alterations, full of optimism, and went 1-0 up within 20 minutes. But, Becchio pulled one back for Leeds just before half time, and then grabbed another on 63 minutes. The team started showing the form which had gotten McDermott sacked a few weeks ago. However, after the next game, which we won 2-1, we were still in 23rd, but now on 12 points, 6 above struggling Watford. So, in the space of 3 games, I had equalled the team's points from the last 2 months. Things were looking rosy, and it was from then that we begun our push to beat the relegation zone.
After the first few games, i noticed that Nicholas Bignall was a very promising young striker, and he lived up to my expectations. He scored 5 in the next 7 games, which put him ahead of Shane Long in the goal tally. His skill at beating defenders and the goalies was fantastic, and for a moment I though he would lead Reading to glory. Of course, anything can happen in football manager, and you will see what happened soon. Back to the league, however, and after 12 games in charge (about mid-January), we were now 20th in the league with 30 points. Things were looking great, and, with my miniscule transfer budget, i bought in Willo Flood on a free transfer, and he very quickly established himself as a fans favourite. He assisted a superb goal on his debut, and went on to score in the next fixture. Fans were delighted with his purchase, and, as March dawned, things were looking bright, as we were 5 places above the relegation zone, but only by 4 points.
March: Everything had been running smoothly, and March is always a busy time, but what came shocked me. Bignall, our top striker, fell out with myself and Shane Long, and, constant arguing led to him requesting a transfer. I was hesitant, of course, he was my top striker after all, but, after his recent fall from form and grace, i though it best for the club. As the team was torn apart by more fall-outs, we soon slipped back into the relegation zone, just ahead of Sheffield United (by one point), but comfortably ahead of Watford (10 points). Things were getting desperate, and, because of Bignall's problems, Simon Church took his spot in the starting 11. This proved to be the saviour of Reading, as Church and Shane Long went on to score and assist 15 goals, with some help from the mid's, and ultimately, saving us from relegation. We finished the season in 17th, and the board also offered me a 4 year extension on my contract.
League Cup: Reading had already been knocked out of this cup when i joined, but the eventual winners, and I am not making this up, were Hull. They beat Blackburn in the quarter finals, Man City in the semi's and narrowly beat Tottenham 1-0 in the final. COYT!!
FA Cup: Thanks to a congested fixture list, Reading were knnocked out in the third round of the FA cup against Birmingham. Man City would go on to win the competition, after finishing a disappointing 7th in the Prem.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post, will have a review/summary on my second season in charge soon.
Thanks for reading!
Hello, and welcome back to my Reading career. Now, after saving Reading from relegation last season, the odds were against us for promotion. The media was predicting mid-table, but, despite this, I still told the board that I was expecting promotion. After our pre-season, which we won every game of, we kick-started our new season.
Transfers: In-Patrick Van Aanholt: A very fine young left back, signed from Chelsea
Gavin Gunning: Good, solid central defender, has great tactical knowledge, and is also home-grown.
Fraser Forster: Experienced goalkeeper, signed from Newcastle
Matthew Gilks: Yet another GK, but we needed to strengthen our defence, and I felt these two were the way to go.
Out: Ivan Ingimarsson
So, with a new, more solid defense, and some argumentative players gone, our bank balance was certainly not great, but we had some reserve. Now then, into the new season.
Championship: We had a very fine start to the league, winning nine from fifteen, drawing four times and losing only twice. Simon Church had certainly shown his skill this season, as Shane Long and him enjoyed great form for the first half of the season. After this period of time, Aachen, in the German Second Division, offered me a contract to work there, and, I gave them a firm no, reinstating my loyalty to the club and its supporters. As January dawned, it was a three horse-race for 1st place, with Newcastle, West Brom and Reading only separated by two points. At this point, we were on and off first place, after previously holding it for five weeks. Our form started to drop, with Matthew Gilks, my first choice keeper, losing the form that got him starting, he was replaced by Forster, in a desperate attempt to regain first place.
January Transfers: In: Frank Fielding: Yes, another Goalie, but due to the inconsistent form of the others, I brough Frank in as a backup.
Out: Gilks: After just half a season, Gilks was moved on due to his massive dro in form.
Noel Hunt: Our first choice right midfielder went, as he was unhappy, and also playing very poorly
So, not much activity this time, but I wanted to make some money this time. It was a shame though, to see off Gilks, but it had to happen.
After the transfer window, things changed again. We re-established a 4 point lead at the top, and Newcsatle's form looked to be dropping. However, March again proved to be our downfall. A very congested fixture list meant a sharp decline in form. After changing things yet again, we drew with Newcastle and lost to West Brom, slipping to second.Things weren't good, and they only got worse. We then recorded six straight losses, the first five we didn't score in at all. The fans were devastated, and now, we had slipped from automatic promotion to the last play-off spot. We then beat Sheffield United 2-1, followed up by a loss again. However, we won the next 2, lost again, and were still sixth, needing a win in our last game of the season against Coventry. After a lacklustre first half, I did my best to motivate the players. We crated a ton of chances, but poor finishing was our downfall. We ended up at 0-0, and, in other fixtures, Preston won, bumping us down to 7th, an agonizing point off the playoff spots! It was so close, but in the end our previous table domination wasn't enough. We let leads slip late on, and it cost us. However, as the media predicted only mid-table, 7th was still very much respectable. It turned out that the board and fans were pleased, which made me happy too. After considering resignation through th dark times in March and early April, i reconsidered, and stayed at Reading. Now we just have to wait for next season.
League Cup: We reached the third round of the league cup this season, beating Southampton and Stoke, but only to lose a late draw to Villa. 4-2 was the end result, as Reading crashed and burned.
FA Cup: The main reason for our slide down the table. A congested fixture list meant tired players, damaged egos, and painful memories. We lost our third round clash against Sunderland.
So, a fairly positive season. I was offered another year on my contract, but I changed one thing. I put the wages down to 1 pound a week, so the club could get the best part of the money, for wages. Next season (the one I am currently in) we will look to correct what went wrong, and once again, challenge for promotion.
Thanks for Reading!