The Adkins Promotion Blueprint

Christopher Lee

Whilst many Reading fans were shocked and saddened to see Brian McDermott lose his job as manager last season, most were happy to see Nigel Adkins appointed in his stead. The likeable former physio may have been unable to save his new club from the threat of relegation, but his record of four Football League promotions indicated that the Royals would have every chance of bouncing straight back.

The team at have put together some patterns that linked his successful sides of the past. Using data from the games that he presided over during 2006/07, 2008/09, 2010/11 and 2011/12, here is what they were able to find out:


All four teams that have been promoted under Adkins have achieved outstanding results against opponents finishing in the bottom half of the table, particularly in home matches:


- vs bottom half overall: W:9 D:3 L:1

- vs bottom half at home: W:7 D:0 L:0 * 100% winning record at home *

- Only defeat came at 14th-placed Northampton Town




- * Unbeaten at home *

- Won 15 of 24 matches in total



- vs bottom half overall: W:15 D:4 L:2

- vs bottom half at home: W:10 D:1 L:0

- * Picked up 31 points from a possible 33 at home *

- Won 15 of 21 matches in total




- * Bristol City inflicted his only home defeat *

- Won 17 of 24 matches in total


It is a widely-held view that you have to do well against the teams around you in order to succeed, but the evidence here suggests that punishing the weak and vulnerable is the way to go!

Tottenham picked up five more points than Arsenal against teams finishing in the top-half of the Premier League table last season, yet it was the Gunners that claimed fourth place and Champions League football.

Surrendering a two-goal lead at home to high-flying Watford should therefore not concern Reading supporters unduly, but it would be a different story if that happened against the likes of Barnsley and Yeovil.



Two things stand out when studying the squads that Adkins has guided to promotion, namely the number of players making at least 30 starts and the presence of a striker scoring more than 20 goals:


* Billy Sharp netted 30 goals * Seven players made a minimum of 30 starts



* Gary Hooper netted 24 goals * Nine players made a minimum of 30 starts



* Rickie Lambert netted 21 goals * Eight players made a minimum of 30 starts



* Rickie Lambert netted 27 goals * Ten players made a minimum of 30 starts


Such prolific marksmen do not grow on trees, but the Royals may already have one in their midst. Adam Le Fondre struck 25 and 23 goals respectively in consecutive League Two seasons at Rotherham, whilst he proved last year that he can find the net with regularity at any level.

Maintaining a settled starting XI is clearly important to Adkins. Injuries and suspensions will undoubtedly play a part over the course of a long campaign, but expect at least seven players to form the nucleus of his team.

Whatever happens, it would be a major surprise if Reading were not involved in the promotion shake-up. Most of the squad now have Premier League experience under their belts, whilst the manager has demonstrated time and again that he knows what is required to take a side up.

Our thanks to the team at Kickoff for their for their excellent stat work and the diagrams. You can check out more of their work and predictions at

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