Press: It's twelve months that you've been out of work as a manager. Why now, and why Reading?
SC: Circumstances. I think Reading's a club with good potential. It's obviously a club that was recently in the Premier League. I look forward to trying to help them get back to where they want to be.
Press: You mention that goal of getting back to the Premier League. What's a realistic target for this season, how long do you give yourself to do that?
SC: You're never going to sit here and give yourself a time schedule or a time scale. All I can promise the supporters of Reading is that I come in here and give 100%, I try to get the team successful on the pitch, and we try to do that as quickly as possible. The Championship is a league that can very quickly change and we hope to change for the better.
Press: Do you believe you've got the squad to do that at the moment?
SC:Yeah, on first glance at the squad. I know a lot of the players, I think there's good talent in the squad, and it's a squad that should and can be competitive in this division.
Press: Do you envisage strengthening in January? Do you know if there will be funds available yet?
SC: [pause] Yes, we can strengthen in January. You have to understand the constrictions of Financial Fair Play, which the club have explained to me. It's a club that two years ago was in the Premier League so you still have to adapt from that period to dropping into the Championship. There's not millions of pounds to spend because only the top clubs in the Premier League can do that now. You have to be prudent, you have to be careful, but we have enough in the squad just now and certainly I'm going to give those boys first crack, they deserve it, they're here at the club, and I'll take my time to assess the squad and the group of players, and hopefully as I'm doing that we can still be successful in picking up three points on the Saturdays.
Press: It's been a very swift appointment...
SC: You're telling me!
Press: Have you had long to get used to the idea? How long were talks ongoing?
SC: It's been very very quick, unfortunately the previous manager Nigel [Adkins] lost his job at the weekend. The good thing for me was that I was the club's preferred candidate, and the good thing for the club was I was out of work, so we could come together very quickly. I spoke last night with Nigel [Howe, Chief Executive], we had a fantastic conversation where he explained the vision of the club, where the club was at right now and what they wanted to do going forward. The contractual side of the business was completed very quickly. It was easy for me to do.
Press: Have you had any other offers while you've been away?
SC: Yeah I've had one or two.offers to come back in but I always said when I was out that I was in a fortunate position where I had been quite successful, I think, in my career, so I could afford to take time, relax, and get ready to come back into this profession which can be a bit stressful at times. I was well prepared for it, I was waiting for a club that would give me the chance to build, and ideally I'd like to be in the Premier League but the next choice is to drop to the Championship, and you want to be at a club where you have a realistic chance of being in the Premier League as quickly as possible, and that's what Reading gives me.
Press: What are the ambitions here long term?
SC: Ambitions are to be back in the Premier League - there's no point in beating around the bush, you have to be back in the Premier League. If we can get back to the Premier League quickly, great; if it takes a bit more time, but things are developing the right way and club is progressing in the right manner then fine.
Press: How do you regard the state of play this season, because the Championship is such a tight league.
SC: It's a very strange league, the Championship, because on any given match day, any team can beat any other team. Reading's position is the only position I'll look at right now - seven points away from the relegation zone but they're only ten points away from the playoff zone, so obviously we want to start closing the gap on the teams above us and start moving up the table as quickly as possible.
Press: Do you see the potential in the existing squad that you're inheriting, to move up the table quickly?
SC: Yeah, the potential is there. It's a squad that started the season well, obviously they've had more difficult times recently, which is probably why I'm sitting here. I think there's enough in the squad just now - we can certainly look at one or two possible additions over the January window, which everybody will tell you is a difficult window to get the right players. We won't bring in players just for the sake of bringing in players, we'll try to bring in the right players at the right time. So at the moment the current squad, they're the guys in position, all they have to do is go out and play well at the weekend, on matchdays, prove to everybody that they deserve to be here, and everyone will be happy.
Press: Things went well for you at West Brom then changed very quickly as they often do in football, do you feel you have a point to prove?
SC: No, I've got no point to prove to anybody. I think my time at West Brom was successful, that's my take on it. I look back on the work I did there with a lot of pride, I enjoyed my time. Unfortunately it ended a bit prematurely but that's what happens, that's the nature of modern day football. The only thing I can say on West Brom at the moment is that since I left, I don't think things have significantly improved, so it's a club that's - it is where it is - so maybe I feel a little bit hard done by, but I'm delighted to be back in [management] at Reading Football Club.
Press: Can you tell us what are the characteristics of a Steve Clarke team, what will Reading fans see out there on the field?
SC: Hopefully they'll see a team that's enthusiastic, competitive in every match, difficult to beat, and if you can do that while playing fantastic football then everybody's happy. But Steve Clarke teams like to win, and that's what I hope to put out onto the pitch - a team that knows how to win matches.
You can watch the full press conference below.
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