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Reading's Transfer Record In The Zingarevich Era

Today marks 291 days since Reading signed Billy Sharp on loan from Southampton, our last addition of a senior player. Beyond that we've signed just five since the end of the 2012/13 campaign and only paid a fee for two for them. With that in mind I thought I'd take a look back on our transfer record under Anton Zingarevich to look at the lasting impact of the TSI era.

Ben Hoskins

(For those in, I'm only going to cover those players who have gone on to make a senior appearance, while for those who were sold, I'm only rating those sold for a fee...sorry Churchy)

2011/12

IN:

Jason Roberts - Blackburn, Undisclosed (reported £500k)

The impact Roberts had on our promotion season can't be understated so on that basis alone he more than justified the decision to spend a reported £500k plus a generous 18-month contract.  What's harder to understand is why the club agreed to give an ageing Roberts an extra year on his contract and a return of just 12 appearances in his final two years at the Madejski was far from value for money.

Grade: B-

Tomasz Cywka - Derby, Free

The former Poland U21 international showed promise on his debut, winning a penalty against Bristol City. However from there he featured just three times, although Cywka did put in a solid shift in a key 1-0 win at Brighton. A low risk gamble that served a purpose but a player who wasn't retained with promotion. He's since been at Barnsley where he's been ok without being spectacular.

Grade: D+

Matthew Connolly - QPR, Loan

Connolly came in on loan from QPR and gave us a bit of stability when Andy Griffin was wobbling and Shaun Cummings was still not quite the finished article. Sadly an injury derailed his loan spell but like Cwyka he played his part in our promotion before returning to QPR. He'd go on to help Cardiff win promotion the following season before a serious injury kept him out of nearly the whole of the 2013/14 season.

Grade: C

Hayden Mullins - Portsmouth, Loan

Utility man Mullins was signed in March and helped steer the side towards promotion. His presence helped offset the loss of Jem Karacan to injury and he put in a memorable shift in the epic 3-1 win at Southampton that all but sealed our place back in the top flight. Again not really Premier League quality and was allowed to go back to Pompey before a move to Birmingham.

Grade: C+

OUT:

Mathieu Manset - Sion, Undisclosed (Reported £400k)

'The Beast' gave us a handful of memorable moments after signing from Hereford but never really established himself as a regular starter. We made a small profit on the striker and he's hardly done anything memorable since leaving, scoring just five goals during spells at four different clubs.

Selling Grade: B+

**********

2012/13

Pogrebnyak_medium

(Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

IN:

Garath McCleary - Nottingham Forest, Free

McCleary was in and out of the side during our Premier League campaign but would be one of our star performers back in the Championship. Was one of the leading assist makers in the league and scored his fair share of spectacular goals as well. For a free transfer you couldn't ask for much more.

Grade: A-

Danny Guthrie - Newcastle, Free

Undoubtedly a class act on the field but sadly his first season at the Madejski would be more remembered for numerous problems off it that contributed to a long exclusion under Brian McDermott. The appointment of Nigel Adkins seemed to rejuvenate the former Newcastle man but he struggled to recapture his early season form after injury.

Grade: B-

Pavel Pogrebnyak - Fulham, Free

The signing of the 'big f'ing Russian' was met with widespread approval by Reading fans, who enjoyed the seeming signal of intent from our new Russian overlord. Pog had scored six goals in just 12 games at Craven Cottage and was one of the biggest names to have been signed by the Royals.

Sadly he never really got the service needed to thrive in the top flight and despite a couple of memorable goals against Chelsea and West Brom, never really lived up to his wage packet which was widely reported to be the highest ever paid out by the club. After nobody came in for him in the summer he was brought back into the fold by Nigel Adkins and slowly won the fans' hearts with some dedicated displays and a double digit goal return. Still not what you'd expect from an expensive Russian international but better than nothing.

Grade: C

Stuart Taylor - Manchester City, Free

Taylor was always going to be a third choice keeper and on that basis I suppose he exceeded expectations by playing a handful of Premier League games. Still, you can't help but feel his wages could have been better used elsewhere given the depth of our senior and academy goalkeeping ranks.

Grade: D+

Nicky Shorey - West Brom, Free

Shorey's signing was controversial given the way he'd left the club four years previously but it was still viewed as a pretty solid capture. Never reached the heights of his first spell but was solid before an alarming drop in form around Christmas saw him replaced by Ian Harte. Was released at the end of the campaign and has bounced around the lower leagues with Bristol City and Portsmouth since

Grade: C-

Adrian Mariappa - Watford, Undisclosed (reported £2.5m)

Mariappa was our most expensive ever centre-back when he signed from Watford and he was probably the only defender to come out of our relegation season with any credit. Was moved on to Palace after relegation where Reading made their money back.

Grade: B

Chris Gunter - Nottingham Forest, £2.3m

The signing of Gunter seemed a good one at the time but the Welsh full-back struggled in the Premier League and was soon replaced by Shaun Cummings and then Stephen Kelly. Thankfully Gunter enjoyed a resurgence under Nigel Adkins and was one of our most consistent performers last year, even going on to captain the side.

Grade: B-

Daniel Carrico - Sporting Lisbon, Undisclosed (reported £600k)

A couple of years before we signed him, Carrico was reportedly a £10 million target for the likes of Manchester City so when it was announced we'd poached him for less than a million, hopes were high that we'd unearthed the next gem of the 'Reading way'. Sadly we got a Carrico that was very, very rusty from a lack of action at Sporting and he'd last just 45 minutes on debut against West Brom before disappearing for the next two months. He returned to make a couple of decent cameos but left in the summer to join Sevilla on loan before completing a £1.5m move after they won the Europa League. A decent bit of business perhaps but his impact at Reading was poor.

Grade: C-

Hope Akpan - Crawley, £300k

A mixed bag for the young midfielder who burst on to the scene with three Premier League assists in two games before slowly fizzling out. Seemed to be on the verge of leaving the club before an injury crisis gave him his chance in the Championship where he put up a decent showing. Still plenty of time to develop but not quite at the quality needed to be an automatic selection.

Grade: C+

Stephen Kelly - Fulham, Undisclosed (reported £1.2m)

Much as Andy Griffin had done three years beforehand, Kelly helped settle a shaky backline and gave us some much needed Premier League experience during our relegation battle. Unfortunately he's one of three dedicated right-backs at the club and his spell at left-back hardly set the world alight. Was rarely seen after Christmas last season but did score a memorable equaliser against Nottingham Forest.

Grade: C

Nick Blackman - Sheffield United, Undisclosed (reported £1.1m)

If the reported fee is correct, Nick Blackman is our most expensive forward signing of all time but so far that investment has yielded just 4 goals in over 40 games. At 24 he's not exactly old but given he turns 25 in November he's hardly a youth prospect either. This year is going to be key in deciding whether this signing was a shrewd move or a gamble gone wrong.

Grade: D

OUT:

Michail Antonio - Sheffield Wednesday, Undisclosed (reported £800k)

Antonio developed remarkably considering he was signed as a punt from Tooting and Mitcham by Steve Coppell for next to nothing. Always shone on loan spells away from the club and didn't do too badly in the Reading side but with McAnuff, Kebe, McCleary and Robson-Kanu all ahead of him in the pecking order, it seemed logical to cash in on the winger when we did. Has gone on to have a good spell at Sheffield Wednesday and terrorised Reading during his appearances against us last season. In hindsight perhaps we should have kept him but can understand why we sold when we did for a decent fee.

Sellers Grade: B-

**********

2013/14

Royston_drenthe_medium

(Photo: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

IN:

Wayne Bridge - Manchester City, Free

Bridge had been named in the Championship's team of the year in 2013 and his capture seemed a decent one to kick-off the summer. His early performances were promising but a knee injury kept him out of most of the season leaving a poor return on what was reportedly a decent contract. On the bright side, his injury did open the door for Jordan Obita to break into the side on a regular basis.

Grade: D+

Royston Drenthe - Alania Vladikavkaz, Free]

Mass Sarr or Messiah? That was the question we asked during an early edition of last year's Tilehurst End Podcast and ultimately he turned into more of the former. Some electrifying performances in August seemed to justify the massive hype surrounding the former Real Madrid man but a lengthy injury kept him out for weeks before off the field issues saw him kept on the sidelines. Was given a second chance to impress in the spring but again after early promise he soon fizzled out. His wages could apparently fund 'four players' and on that basis alone he's got to be considered amongst the worst signings of all time.

Grade: E

Danny Williams - Hoffenheim, Undisclosed (reported £1.5m)

Perhaps the best paid for signing of the TSI era, Williams performed excellently in the midfield last season and you get the feeling that had he not been injured for around half the season, we might well have ended up in the top six. Full of energy and drive, could he finally be the long-term successor to Steve Sidwell?

Grade: A

Chris Baird - Free

Signed on a short term deal, Baird helped us out during a horrific injury crisis that he himself would soon fall victim too. The fact we couldn't extend his three month contract said it all about how bad our finances were this season.

Grade: C

Billy Sharp - Southampton, Loan

Ever since Nigel Adkins took over we'd been linked with Sharp and we finally got our man on loan during September. Sadly Sharp would pick up an injury in training that kept him out for half of his three-month loan but he did come back to score two winners against Charlton and Huddersfield. Like Baird, our financial woes meant we couldn't keep him at the club and he ended up at Doncaster where he didn't enjoy the most productive spell as he saw the club relegated.

Grade: C+

OUT:

Adrian Mariappa - Crystal Palace, Undisclosed (Reported £2.5m)

As we know now, funds had to be made somewhere and as previously mentioned, Mariappa  was one of the few players to come out of our Premier League campaign with any credit. Thus it was unsurprising to see Nigel Adkins go into the campaign with Mariappa on the bench and sure enough he was soon sold to Premiership new boys Crystal Palace for a fee roughly what we paid for him. Had a decent campaign with Palace playing more often as a full-back.

Selling Grade: B

Jimmy Kebe - Crystal Palace, Undisclosed (Reported £1.5m)

Jimmy had been injured just before Nigel Adkins took over and never appeared under our latest gaffer. Every comeback attempt seemed to fail at the final hurdle and in the end seeing him go for a seven figure sum seemed decent business for the increasingly injury prone winger. Kebe failed to fire at Palace and was soon back in the Championship with Leeds but again barely featured due to injuries.

Selling Grade: A

Adam Le Fondre - Cardiff, Undisclosed (Reported £2.5m)

I won't grade this one because it's still to be seen how he'll perform at Cardiff but in a pure business sense, getting £2.5 million for a man who was signed for roughly £350,000 is a great deal. Sadly it remains to be seen if we can afford to replace the man who topped the goalscoring charts at the club for three years in a row but if we can I'm cautiously optimistic that this will be seen as overall a decent move for both parties.

AVERAGE GRADE IN:      C

AVERAGE GRADE OUT:  B+

Overall the record has been OK, but sadly those that have been successes aren't necessarily long-term gains and even more worryingly, those that haven't lived up to their hype like Drenthe and Pogrebnyak have really set the club back in terms of reshaping the squad.

In saying that if Akpan and Blackman have a break out campaigns and Williams, McCleary and Gunter continue to impress I think you'd have to look favourably on the business done overall.

From a selling point of view I don't think you can argue with any of those they've let go. Even if you take into account those released like Hunt, Church & Harte, overall Reading haven't let anyone go that's come back to seriously haunt them.

But this is about what you think so please let us know what you've made of the transfer business done in the TSI era.