News and Views

Jaap Stam Remains Leading Contender

27 May 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Jaap Stam remains the leading contender to become the new manager of Reading FC after Brian McDermott's shock dismissal earlier today. Stam, previously assistant manager at Ajax, is rumoured to already be in discussions with Reading prior to the sacking of McDermott. Stam had a memorable playing career, notching up 67 international appearances for the Netherlands, scoring three times. His success with PSV Eindhoven saw Stam become a household name and led to Manchester United paying over 10 million pounds for him in 1998 - a record payment for a defender.

After playing for Lazio and AC Milan, Stam made a return to Ajax to finish his playing career. After retiring from playing, he returned to Manchester United as a scout, before taking up an assistant manager role at FC Zwolle. He joined Ajax again as a managerial assistant in 2013, and now appears to be firmly in the hunt for his first appointment as a senior first team manager.

Other than Stam, the usual contenders have been named by the bookmakers, including Gareth Southgate, Phil Parkinson, and Steve Bruce. Given our owners treatment of McDermott it seems highly unlikely they would return to another Reading legend - which would rule Phil Parkinson out. A "big name" seems a likely choice - but not one that would come with a huge price tag. Stam would fit the bill as a manager that would look to use Reading a stepping stone to lead on to bigger things. His lack of experience is probably irrelevant to Reading owners, who failed to give McDermott time to attempt a repeat of his previous success in getting Reading out of the Championship.

McDermott Gets Shock Sacking After Five Months

27 May 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Brian McDermott has, again, been bizarrely sacked as manager of Reading Football Club. In a surprise short statement this morning, that really come from nowhere, the club confirmed that McDermott had been "relieved of his duties". Reading seem to be a club in turmoil, dispensing of Brian's services after such a short space of time when he had been given no opportunity to make an impression after his return to the club. Brian McDermott will remain a well respected man repeatedly treated incredibly poorly by Reading Football Club.

McDermott returned to Reading after a very successful spell between 2009 and 2013 that saw him guide the Royals into the Premier League against the odds. After Reading hit a poor run of form at the end of last year McDermott made a welcome return. McDermott gave up a long term scouting role at Arsenal to take on a clearly risky employment with the Royals - something he will probably regret unless he is able to now make a return to the Gunners.

He was unable to turn our fortunes around, since arriving in December 2015, and his record for his second stint in charge will read 13 defeats, 8 draws, and just 9 victories from his 30 matches in charge. Reading finished the season in very poor form, clocking up just a single league point from their last seven fixtures.

After the recent departure of director of football Nicky Hammond, another long term Reading man, the Royals have a serious lack of stable structure. Our Thai owners clearly have no concept of either loyalty or the correct expectations given the level of investment made in permanent playing staff over recent seasons.

The club statement in full:
After careful consideration, the board of Reading Football Club have taken the difficult decision to relieve Manager Brian McDermott of his duties.

We would like to sincerely thank Brian for all his hard work since his return to the club in December 2015 and wish him well in his future career.

The board of Reading Football Club will now undertake a rigorous recruitment process over the next few weeks to identify the right man to lead this club forward and into the 2016-17 season. The club will make a further announcement to our supporters in due course.

Gravenberch Set To Be First Summer Signing

25 May 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading have confirmed their first new signing of the summer will be Danzell Gravenberch from Dutch side FC Dordrecht. The player successfully completed his medical, after a trial with the Royals, and the signing of the Dutch defender will complete when the transfer window opens next month. Gravenberch is expected to sign a three year contract.

The twenty two year old, originally from Amsterdam signed with Ajax into their academy before a move to NEC Nijmegen in January 2014 where he made a handful of appearances. He then went to Universitatea Cluj-Napoca in the Romanian Liga 1 where he made 17 league appearances for the side, scoring once in a 2-2 draw.

Gravenberch has a reputation as a strong, tough player, and picked up 4 yellow cards and a red card in the space of just ten games in the 2014/2015 season. Although primarily a central defender, he can play in a variety of roles and has also played in midfield.

Royals Rely On Youth As Robson Kanu And Others Leave

09 May 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading look set to rely on academy graduates next season as the club confirmed the departure of three senior first team players and declared they planned to "strengthen from within" during the summer. After a disappointing season, that saw the Royals finish 17th in the Championship after picking up just a single point from their last seven games, the club's owners released a carefully drafted statement. Although clearly a simple PR exercise, the statement failed to back Brian McDermott and appeared to make it clear there will be very limited funds for new players during the summer.

The departure of a large number of loan players has been followed up by the confirmed departure of Simon Cox, Hal Robson Kanu and Anton Ferdinand. As a result, the Royals are already guaranteed to have a very different squad when they kick off the 2016/2017 season. None of the three players, who are being released following the end of their contracts, are big surprises to be leaving. Hal Robson Kanu was obviously attempting to negotiate a too high value new contract meaning the club have shown him the door instead of improved terms. Simon Cox was always likely to leave after a unsuccessful loan spell at Bristol City was followed by a recall to the Reading side that failed to produce goals. It was a tough time to return to Reading with the team struggling for form and failing to create chances.

Anton Ferdinand had some great games at Reading but will leave after two years at the club in which he only managed 26 appearances thanks to a first season write off due to injury.

It still feels a real shame to see Hal Robson Kanu leave the club. He certainly had his critics but was one of the sides better players this season and the team clearly missed him when he was forced to miss the last part of the season through injury. Robson Kanu turned professional at Reading a full nine years ago and went on to make 227 appearances, scoring 30 goals for the Royals. With Simon Cox leaving it feels like the remaining links with the past are being removed. One of the few "Reading" people left will be manager Brian McDermott and it seems even he has limited backing from the club's Thai owners.

On the plus side, the use of graduating academy players could be a really good thing. The youth team has had well publicised success, and there are a lot of players already making claims for first team places. A number of those who look set to move into the first team next season have had impressive spells at loan and picked up plenty of experience they can put into good use in the Championship. Josh Barrett has already played a part in the final league games and Tennai Watson has been a regular on the bench. Rob Dickie made his debut as Reading lost 1-3 to Blackburn on Saturday.

There are also players that have featured in the past for the first team before going out on loan. Aaron Kuhl is still only 20 years old, and returns from Dundee United to be offered a contract extension at Reading. Kuhl had already made 8 first team appearances and will be expecting to try and earn a place with loan midfielders leaving the club. Andrija Novakovich looked set to play for Reading this season after playing a couple of times at the end of the 2014/2015 season but instead went out on loan to Cheltenham where he played four times. Novakovich has also had his contract extended.

Before the new season gets underway we will almost certainly see more experienced players out of the door, leaving room for the youth to come through. After this season's failed attempts to use loan players it feel much better to be relying on our young players. Steve Clarke got it wrong with his loan signings, but McDermott is the ideal man to make use of his young prospects with his vast experience of Reading Football Club. With the wage bill substantially cut and low value contracts for academy players there may be some cash for a couple of signings to add some depth to the squad.