With Reading parting ways with their manager of eleven months, José Manuel Gomes (in what must be one of the longest dismissals in football history!) the search is now on for a new gaffer…
Saturday Sport Show presenter and ‘loyal royal’ Reading fan Sam Michael Cleere takes a look at the top candidates for the role and gives his opinion on the front runners (odds given below are correct as of 11/10/19).
Mark Hughes – 13/8 (oddschecker.com)
Clubs Managed: Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, QPR, Southampton, Stoke, Fulham
Sam’s Verdict: A name that always pops up when a job vacancy in the top two tiers of English football needs filling, I think many fans would consider Hughes a step backwards. In his day Mark Hughes was an integral part of Alex Ferguson’s legendary late ’80s/early 90’s team that won the first-ever Premier League title and he achieved a great deal in all those years as a player. However, there’s a saying that ‘great players make bad managers’ and I’m pretty sure that saying came from managers like Hughes.
I am probably being too hard on the guy, at the end of the day he is a British football legend and his first run of club management was successful, he did wonders at Blackburn and was, in my opinion at the time, unfairly dismissed from Manchester City. However, this was a decade ago and his win rate at the four clubs he’s managed since 2011 hasn’t been above 35.5%.
One pro to Mark Hughes as the manager is that he hasn’t managed for long in the Championship and his managerial skills could be more effective in the second tier of English football.
For me, personally (in case you hadn’t guessed) Hughes is a no from me!
Chris Houghton – 11/1 (oddschecker.com)
Clubs Managed: Newcastle United, Birmingham City, Norwich City, Brighton & Hove Albion
Sam’s Verdict: A string of successful spells of management in the championship and some tasty promotions will be an attractive quality to the Reading owners who, from the rather quick sacking of Gomes are interested in results and results only.
It would be fair to say, Houghton, although sacked himself at Brighton, left on a high keeping the Premier League underdogs safe from relegation two seasons in a row.
For me, this would be a welcome appointment and although I wouldn’t expect the most exciting football or the European style that Gomes (at times) had us play – I would certainly expect results.
John O’Shea – 20/1 (skybet.com)
Clubs Managed: None.
Sam’s Verdict: Certainly a risky appointment, John O’Shea (who ended his career at Reading and has taken on a coaching role this season) is an outside-runner for the next manager.
Personally I couldn’t see this happening, especially as the owners, as previously mentioned, are looking for results; O’Shea’s complete lack of managerial experience means they will most likely completely disregard him.
If he has established a relationship with the players and indeed the owners however, this could be the reason he’s on the shortlist.
If the owners were tempted by O’Shea, they would most likely leave him in charge as the caretaker for a few games and take it from there… I mean, that’s how McDermott got the job in 2010 and he’d only managed Slough previously – so I wouldn’t completely write-off ‘John O’Shea’s Blue and White Army’ just yet!
Roy Keane – 15/2 (oddschecker.com)
Clubs Managed: Sunderland, Ipswich Town
Sam’s Verdict: A championship promotion in 2007 with Sunderland and an uneventful time at Ipswich is probably not the pedigree of management success the Reading owners are looking for; however, Roy Keane is more than that. The captain of arguably the greatest English football team (98/99 treble winners) of all time in his years at Manchester United, Keane will go down in history at one of the best leaders on the pitch and one would imagine that leadership is still to be harnessed as a manager at a football club, somewhere… Let’s just hope that ‘somewhere’ is Reading FC.
Keane is known more these days for his punditry roles on ITV football coverage. Although this could be a case of the pot calling the kettle black (who can forget my comments about Thatcham, Newbury and Hungerford!) maybe it’s time Keane stopped talking the talk and started walking the walk.
I feel Reading managers have always been ‘good guys’ – your McDermott’s, Clement’s and Adkin’s wouldn’t say boo to a goose. I think maybe it’s time for somebody a bit more rough and ready to put the ‘family club’ ethos to one side and concentrate on an ‘us vs them’ attitude similar to the management style of Warnock,
Gareth Ainsworth – 16/1 (oddchecker.com)
Clubs Managed: QPR (caretaker) Wycombe Wanderers
Sam’s Verdict: Ainsworth has been Wycombe Wanderers manager since 2012, where for two of those years he was player/manager. He had a successful start to his managerial promotion but the bulk of his hard work and success came from when he retired from playing, swapping the shirt, shorts and socks for smart shirts and tracksuits.
In the last few years, Ainsworth has built so many foundations at Wycombe, restructuring the squad (in particular their defence) making them a force to be reckoned with in League 1 (they currently sit 2nd in the league). He’s also taken Wycombe on some memorable cup runs.
Ainsworth is currently being chased by Sunderland and although they’re in League 1 also, they are without a doubt a ‘bigger’ club than Reading. The sort of restructuring talents Ainsworth possess would suit a club in turmoil more than a club in the Championship that needs a ‘quick-fix’.
Ainsworth is poised to be the next Eddie Howe and he’ll most likely follow in his footsteps by sticking with the club he’s at and building them up to the highest possible level, rather than take a risk and jump to higher club (as Howe did also when he had his ‘affair’ with Burnley).
Again, a great manager but not quite what Reading needs at the moment.
I don’t claim to be an expert in a football by any means (not that my spell at AFC Newbury sat on a bench for the whole of the 2000/2001 season doesn’t qualify me!) but speaking as a fan, I just hope that Reading doesn’t go for another ‘safe option’ as they have done so many times before with Nigel Adkins, Steve Clarke and Paul Clement.
Appointments like Gomes and Stam were different and exciting – in both cases, I was sad to see them dismissed. So taking a risk on the likes of Roy Keane or an overseas manager are always welcome. On an unrelated note, Luis Figo has been spotted in the Home Counties, so I hear…
At times Reading have looked to the past, for a second coming; there are some who think Coppell could work his magic, however, he’s not dabbled in football management in over a decade. And as for those calling for the ‘third coming’ of St. Brian McDermott – give me a break!
If we were to look at the past, the only options, in my opinion, would be Phil Parkinson, former Reading captain and a legend in his playing days (I got his autograph in 2001) or, and I know this choice would polarise the fanbase, Alan Pardew. If I’m honest, Pardew would be my personal choice. The man can do wonders with clubs, especially in the championship and his career really did start at Reading where he bought the club into the 21st century, bringing in players and creating a squad that would go on to spawn into Steve Coppell’s ‘106’ record-winning team.
Whoever steps into the role, they will inherit one of the most expensive teams in the Championship and a squad full of talent. The likes of Puscas, Boye and Ejira are bound to be aesthetically pleasing to out-of-work managers.
Other names to consider: David Moyes, Neil Harris (odds being slashed by the hour!) Mark Bowen (currently sporting director at Reading FC) and Cesare Prandelli.
If you’re looking for a real wild card, however – I wonder what the bookies would give you for a quid on Thatcham Town’s Danny Robinson!
Sam Michael Cleere.