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The Tilehurst End Mailbag: Academy, Captaincy, Transfer Fees and Madejski's Legacy

Our first ever weekly mailbag has arrived! Jonny is here to answer all the questions you've sent in over the past week. Don't forget, you can have your own say on matters in the comments section - and if you've got a question for next week, details are at the bottom.

Ben Hoskins

Fans are already talking about big signings; our big signings don’t usually work out the way you’d expect they would, in fact most of our best signings over the years have been bargains. However now it seems youth players are really coming through. With this in mind:

· Do you think the club should have a policy of playing academy players for a number of games before it spends any money on filling playing positions just to see if they can step up?

· If we’d had any cash last season would Jordan Obita have got a game let alone start at left back all season?

· How do we ensure that the young players get a chance?

From RFriday9 in Ascot

JW: I'd agree with your point that many of our top-quality signings have come through relatively cheap deals - just look at the 2005/06 squad containing the likes Kevin Doyle, Dave Kitson, Ibrahima Sonko, Shane Long, Glen Little and Ivar Ingimarsson signed for combined fees of less than £500,000.

However, as Dan pointed out on the podcast this week, that's not to say that Steve Coppell (and subsequent managers) have never spent money. Bobby Convey cost nearly £1m, whilst we know that Leroy Lita was our first ever £1m signing. Even Bryn Gunnarsson cost a fair amount of cash. We then get on to the questionable signings - Emerse Fae, Marek Matejovsky, Matt Mills, Greg Halford... but luckily, those didn't turn out to be financial disasters. Thanks, Nick Hammond.

I'd argue that more recent big-money deals have worked out - Chris Gunter is a very solid right-back, Adrian Mariappa was a good young centre-back that we eventually let leave to head to Crystal Palace, whilst Daniel Carrico was plagued by injury then simply didn't want to play for us at Championship level; he isn't doing too badly from that move to Sevilla!

With regards to the youth, Obita was very much thrust into the left-back position when injury to Wayne Bridge, and the loss of form of Stephen Kelly & Shaun Cummings, meant there was no other option. I'm sure we probably would have brought in another left-back if the cash was there, as in the post-season we lost two (Nicky Shorey & Ian Harte) and brought in just the one.

But Obita, like Karacan, Sigurdsson, Pearce, McCarthy, and others before him, didn't just turn up at the training ground in pre-season a ready-made Reading player. All of those players have been out on loan in the lower leagues (McCarthy to eight different clubs) before coming back and cementing their places in the first team. The only one I can think of in recent memory who hasn't been out on loan is Shane Long.

The new U21 League is obviously a very good initiative but there's a difference between playing against young men and battling against seasoned campaigners. There's a difference between playing "football" and playing "the game of football", and that's something that only experience of League football can give you.

I don't think Nigel Adkins will throw any Academy players in next year aside from in emergency, despite their heroics and successes last season at youth level. There's no need to rush it through, they have plenty of time to hone their crafts at youth and lower level before stepping up in a few years time.


Who, realistically, is likely to become captain after McAnuff was released this summer? If you could have any member of the team to be captain who would you have?

From Alison on email

Firstly, I think it was clear from the start of the season that Jobi McAnuff was never necessarily Adkins' captain - he somewhat got the armband by possession. That's not to say that Jobi wasn't a great leader, by all accounts he was a fantastic motivator and commanded the respect of the dressing room. But I just got the feeling that Adkins was never fully behind him.

In terms of the new Reading captain? We actually ran a poll on this a month ago, and Alex Pearce got the most votes. I'd happily see Pearce get the armband - he's the most vocal member of the Reading defence and he's got the Royals in his blood. I should think/hope that any animosity over the contract disputes a couple of seasons ago will be gone now - many fans had always had him pegged as a future Reading captain, and now seems the perfect time.


Assuming money is available when the takeover happens, where needs strengthening, do you think we can dream of big names?

Hugh van-de-l'isle ‏@hughvmarxist on Twitter

Who knows Hugh? We've been here before haven't we! At least we got an England international as promised last time ;)

In terms of strengthening, there are a couple of gaping holes for me. We looked weak up, even before the departure of Adam Le Fondre - and now we have Pogrebnyak, Blackman and Robson-Kanu (assuming that we classify the last two, particularly HRK, as forwards). It's a shame that Matej Vydra has gone back to Watford as he was a class above two seasons ago - I'm surprised he didn't get more opportunities in the PL for West Brom.

And as good as Obita was last season at left-back, he's not going to want another campaign in an unfavoured position, so I'd want to bring in a left-back and move Obita forward. Jake Bidwell came through the Everton youth system and had a cracking season for Brentford last year; I'd be worried about his price but he could be one on our radar.

As for big names, I'm not sure that Adkins, or the Reading fans, will want to go down the QPR route of fading lights. I'd rather bring in good Championship and League One players with the potential and hunger to progress into the Premier League. And you just have to look at the Royals transfers last season - the big names of Drenthe and Bridge massively outshone by relatively unknown Danny Williams.


Will the new owners change the name of the stadium?

Darren Jay ‏@darrenjaybird on Twitter

I know it's probably a basic answer but could you explain how we went from selling for £1 to a much bigger bid?

Joe Stevenson ‏@JaaBui on Twitter

£10m yearly budget? Transfers or overall?

George Williamson ‏@flamesgeorge on Twitter

These questions above stemmed from an article found by our very own eagle-eyed reporter Marc Mayo. Obviously details are thin on the ground but I'll try to give my thoughts on things...

For Joe's question, well, the Reading Chronicle reports that the £25m fee is for 90% of the club, including the stadium and the training ground, as well as the £21m debt the club currently has. So whilst £25m is the sum, the net fee might be a lot closer to that solitary pound sterling we heard in the media a few weeks back.

So if you believe the reports, Samrit Bunditkitsada will own the stadium if and when the takeover is complete. I would hope he doesn't change the name of the stadium, just as a legacy to Sir John, but you never know these days. It seems as though Madejski will stay on as honorary chairman to at least ensure he'll stay close to his life's work.

And as for the budget, again we just don't know. The full £10m a year on wages would be £200k a week, which might just about service the club's wage budget with not much change. So whether the new consortium would add that £10m to the current budget or not remains to be seen. Sorry not to have been more helpful in this regard - we simply don't know.


Thanks for all your questions this week! You can of course have your say on the topics discussed by commenting below, so let us know your thoughts on Reading matters.

If you've got a question for next week's Mailbag, here's how to get in touch:

- you can send us a tweet @TheTilehurstEnd (if you use the hashtag #TTEMailbag, it'll help us find it quicker)

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- you can leave a comment on this page