News and Views

Clarke's First Game Ends In Defeat

20 December 2014
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Steve Clarke's first game in charge of the Royals ended in a disappointing defeat as Watford won 0-1 at the Madejski Stadium. The visitors were reduced to ten men just before half time and the teams went in level after the first 45 minutes produced no goals. However, despite hopes that Reading could take advantage of the extra man, it was Watford that picked up the win thanks to a goal with twenty minutes left to play.

Clarke had less than a week to work out his plan for this match after Adkins left on Monday and Clarke was appointed less than 24 hours later. However, despite the limited time available to him Clarke shuffled the team around. Alex Pearce was back in defence, and was named team captain to the expense of Chris Gunter who went on to have a good game. Cooper was back on the bench and only came on at the end to play a late role as centre forward as Reading tried desperate measures to try and force the equaliser. Obita found himself back at left back and the changes felt mostly postive.

On another day Reading might have got something out of the game after having chances to score. The Royals had far more shots than Watford and also enjoyed far more possession and more corners. Reading were let down by some poor finishing as they rarely tested the Watford goalkeeper. Blackman and Murray both should have scored in the second half. Blackman missed from very close range after he failed to get on a fast low cross. Murray might have done better from a tight angle but his shot across the keeper was narrowly wide of the far post.

Despite the defeat, and the short time since Adkins departure, things did feel different. There were times when Reading returned to the Adkins style of football but the new manager seems certain to bring further change after the dust settles.


Watford At Home For New Manager Clarke

19 December 2014
By Hob Nob Anyone?

New manager Steve Clarke takes charge of his first Reading game this weekend as Watford travel to the Madejski Stadium. Clarke, who took over on Tuesday has had three days to assess his squad and decide who to play and how to approach the game. After attendances have been dwindling at home, the club will be hoping fans turn up to support the team and the new manager, and to take an early glipse as to how things might shape up under Clarke's guidance.

Reading's last two home games were a 0-0 draw against Bolton and a 0-1 defeat against Charlton before that. Home fans have been starved of recent goals or excitement, which might well work in Clarke's favour as he looks to start his reign in a positive fashion. With Watford 6th in the table and Reading 16th, Watford are narrowly favourites for victory with the bookmakers, despite being away from home. That all means that if Reading get anything at all from the game it will be seen as an acceptable start for Clarke. Of course Reading were thrashed 1-6 away at Birmingham last weekend - a result that was snapped up by the club as the trigger to dismiss an unfortunate Nigel Adkins. Clarke will be very keen to avoid a similar result as he openly talks about aiming for promotion this season with the Royals.

Reading have a number of injury doubts and may be without Mackie, Pogrebnyak, and Robson-Kanu. Potential key players Ferdinand and Karacan are both still not match fit and seem unlikely to feature. After last weekend's big defeat Alex Pearce will be hoping to make a return to the starting line-up as players work hard to impress the new manager, Watford have few injury worries as they look to follow up on two straight wins that included a 5-0 thrashing of Fulham - at Fulham - two weeks ago. Last weekend Watford were 2-1 home winners over Wigan. Watford come to Reading with four wins and two draws from their ten away Championship games so far this season.

Out of the last 25 meetings with Watford, the Royals have won 9 and Watford have won 6. Last season Reading were 1-0 winners at Watford while the teams drew 3-3 at the Madejski in August 2013 with Le Fondre on the scoresheet and Karacan getting two goals. Watford needed a last minute equaliser that day to share the points.


Steve Clarke Confirmed As Manager

16 December 2014
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Steve Clarke has been confirmed as the new manager of Reading Football Club. The former West Bromwich Albion was appointed less than 24 hours after the confirmation that Nigel Adkins has been dismissed making it obvious he was already on his way to Reading FC prior to the 1-6 thrashing at Watford on Saturday. Clarke will now be in place ready for Saturday's visit of Watford to the Madejski Stadium.

Clarke joins Reading on a two and a half year contract which will see him under contract until the end of the 2016/2017 season - assuming he lasts that long in the position. In confirming Clarke as manager the club stated: "Steve was our first choice candidate for the manager's role.". His experience, and huge number of connections gained, at Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham United and West Brom should be to his advantage in the Championship.

After signing his contract with John Madejski Clarke spoke of his delight at joining Reading after a year out of football management: "I am absolutely delighted to be joining Reading Football Club and I look forward to helping the club move in the right direction. A big part of the work ahead is on the training ground and I look forward to meeting the players and getting onto the grass with them. There is real potential here and hopefully exciting times ahead for the supporters."

Clarke has less than four full days to get to know the squad before 16th placed Reading take on 6th placed Watford in a game that has suddenly taken on some meaning. Clarke will be hoping to turn around a poor run that has seen the Royals win just 3 times out of the last 15 attempts. Reading have failed to score in their last two home games - a 0-1 defeat to Charlton and a 0-0 draw against Bolton. Even a Reading goal might be seen as progress.

Steve Clarke - Career Record:

As a player:
1982-1987: St. Mirren (200 games, 7 goals)
1987–1998: Chelsea (330 games, 7 goals)

As an assistant manager:
1998-1999: Newcastle United
2004–2008: Chelsea
2008–2011: West Ham United
2011–2012: Liverpool

As a manager:
1999: Newcastle United (caretaker manager, 1 game: 1 defeat)
2012–2013: West Bromwich Albion (60 games: 19 wins, 15 draws and 26 defeats)


Steve Clarke Lined Up As Manager

16 December 2014
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading are set to reveal former West Brom manager Steve Clarke as the new manager following yesterday's sacking of Nigel Adkins. The quick appointment, and lack of announcement of any caretaker manager, indicates that Clarke was already lined up before Adkin's dismissal - and conversations were probably well underway before the 1-6 defeat at Birmingham that were used to trigger the management changes.

It is a full year since Clarke was sacked as West Bromwich Albion manager after winning 19 games from 60 in charge. A run of four straight defeats was enough to cost him his job on 14 December 2013 with West Brom two points outside the bottom three. 2013 was a bad year for Clarke after his side managed just seven wins from 34 Premier League games in the year. However, the 2012/2013 season saw West Brom finish eighth in the Premier League and was seen as an excellent campaign. Clarke took over at West Brom after Roy Hodgson left to become the new England manager and left behind an impressive side.

Steve Clarke's 60 games at West Brom, and a single defeat as caretaker manager at Newcastle in 1999, remain his only managerial experience. However he was assistant manager at Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool. His 60 games as manager included 15 draws and 26 defeats. Clarke's career as a player spanned 16 years and saw him make 200 appearances for St. Mirren in Scotland and 330 for Chelsea.