Following news of an end of season shake up at Reading, with contracts offered and players released, much has been made of the departure of Ivar Ingimarsson. Rightly so, the defender will be an all-time Royals legend and will not be forgotten anytime soon. However while the Icelander departed, another senior player saw his Reading career come to an end, that of David Mooney. The low-key departure pretty much summed up his time at the Madejski, and there's no doubt the Irishman will be delighted to see the back of Berkshire after a very disappointing three years at the club.
Below the jump we'll be looking where it all went wrong for Mooney at Reading.
In the summer of 2008, Steve Coppell sold striker Dave Kitson to Stoke following Reading's relegation from the Premiership . In search of a replacement he turned to Cork City, the club who had given the Royals great successes with Kevin Doyle and Shane Long. Once again, the Irish side delivered another striker for Reading, 23-year-old Dave Mooney, who rejected offers from over 10 different clubs including Blackburn and Crystal Palace to sign a three-year deal with the club. Mooney had been in red-hot form in Ireland, finishing top scorer in the 2007 Irish Premier League while at Longford Town as well as winning Player of the Season. He joined Cork at the start of the 2008 season and bagged 20 goals in 26 appearances before joining the Royals for €200,000 mid-season.
Dave made his Reading debut in a 5-1 Carling Cup win over Luton, coming on in the 60th minute along with fellow debutant Gylfi Sigurdsson, replacing Shane Long. He went on to score a hat-trick on his debut for the Reserve side, and once again came off the bench in the Carling Cup as Reading went down on penalties against Stoke.
So far, so good it seemed for the Irishman but due to good form from Kevin Doyle and Noel Hunt as the Royals flew up the Championship table Mooney was unable to break into the first-team and was shipped out to Stockport on loan, where he made just 2 appearances before injury cut his spell there short.
After recovering from injury Mooney looked like he may finally get his first-team chance following a hat-trick for the Reserves against Crystal Palace, but once again was deemed surplus to requirements and sent out on loan to fellow Championship side Norwich.
It seemed like a nice move by Reading as Mooney bagged a goal on his first English league appearance as the Canaries defeated Reading's promotion rivals Cardiff. He went on to score 3 goals for Norwich in 9 games as they were relegated. Despite coming close to featuring in the play-offs, Dave was forced to watch as Reading lost to Burnley in the play-offs and Steve Coppell resigned as manager. After failing to make a league appearance in his first season, Mooney would have hoped for a better chance under the new manager.
The new manager was Brendan Rodgers, and it looked as if the Irishman would finally make an impact at the Madejski as he featured heavily in pre-season.
He made his first Reading start in a 5-1 win over Burton Albion in the Carling Cup, and Mooney bagged two goals. He said after the game:
"I knew it was a good chance for me to get a few goals and luckily it worked out that way, touch wood, things have changed for me. I wouldn't want another year like last year, I came here to play. Obviously last year didn't work out so I went to Norwich and did really well. I think the new manager realises that and it is up to me to take my chance when it comes."
However, this chance seemingly never came. Mooney played just one more game for Reading (again in the Carling Cup) before he was again sent out on loan. This time to League One side Charlton. The loan started well, with Mooney scoring twice in the month and his time at Charlton was extended a further month.
It seemed a strange choice at the time. Reading were languishing near the foot of the Championship table with only 18 goals in 18 games. You'd of thought a goalscoring striker would of been perfect at the time, but once again the Irishman was cast away from the squad.
While Mooney was out at Charlton, Reading saw another new manager come in, a certain Brian McDermott. McDermott was willing to take Him back to Reading, but Mooney chose to stay at The Valley, saying in a recent interview: "He was in touch with me last season after he got the manager's job and he wanted to bring me back to Reading from my loan spell with Charlton. I thought about it but I decided to stay at Charlton. I was getting first team football every week there and I enjoyed that and I knew there was no guarantee I'd get games at Reading so I stayed."
His return was less successful. Managing just 4 more goals, Mooney got some stick from Addicks fans as he and his Charlton side missed out on automatic promotion. He scored his 7th goal on his 23rd start for Charlton in the play-off semi against Swindon. But after he was subbed off with his side leading 3-2 on aggregate, he had to watch as they lost on penalties and miss out on a place at Wembley.
So another season gone, and another season without a league appearance. Mooney was not giving up on his Reading career however, and spoke to the Irish Herald about his future, saying: "I plan to go back to Reading and see how things go. I have no idea how it will pan out for me but I feel I can play a part for Reading next season and I want to do that. I don't think I have ever been given a real chance at Reading, I feel I am good enough to be there, now I suppose it's up to me to do well in pre-season training and show the manager that I can play a part for them. It's a bit hard to get my head around. I have been a Reading player for two years now but I've hardly played for them and I haven't even made my league debut yet."
Returning to Berkshire, Reading's No.12 helped his side to a pre-season win over Staines Town. However, this was not enough to convince McDermott that he had a future with Reading, as he was left behind as the club went on a pre-season tour to Slovenia and was told he could leave along with midfielder Scott Davies.
Following the announcement of his freedom to depart the Madejski a number of clubs declared their interest, but the Irishman joined League One side Colchester United on loan until January. His career at the Essex club started well with a debut brace against Hereford in the Carling Cup. His first goal a brilliantly struck volley from a tight angle. He went on to score a further 9 goals pre-January for the U's before extending his loan deal until the end of the season, effectively ending any possibilities that he might feature for the Royals again. He went on to score 14 goals and finish the club's top scorer.
Despite finishing his Colchester loan spell before the beginning of Reading's playoff campaign, Mooney never returned to the Madejski and was released at the end of three unhappy years at the club.
So where did it all go wrong for the Irish Striker? Why could he not even force himself onto the bench in the League? Why, even when Reading were short on striking options, did he spend so much time out on loan?
It's strange that he was never really given a good chance to shine while at the Madejski, with only two starts in the Carling Cup to his name, in which he scored two goals. Reading beat off stiff competition to sign the hot Irish property, but despite great promise and high hopes, he was never given the chance to show Reading fans why he was wanted by so many clubs.
You could say his chances to impress came while he was out on loan, but I feel he did take his chances. He scored a good number of goals at Championship level while at Norwich, as well as scoring a good number while at Charlton and finishing top scorer for a good Colchester side this season.
So why could he not force his way into the Reading side? Even when strikers were struggling, for example in 2009 when at one point Gzregorz Rasiak was the only fit striker at the Madejski, David was constantly overlooked. You could argue that he simply wasn't good enough, but the loan spells have shown that he does have some ability and a good goalscoring record, even at Championship level.
Whatever the reason for his failure at the Royals, his time at Reading will go down as a major disappointment for both himself and the club, and following his release he will aim to join a new club which will give him that full chance he has been waiting for.
As the saying goes, 'Once a Royal, Always a Royal,' I'm sure everyone connected with Reading Football Club will join me in wishing 'Moons' all the best in the future.