Reasons To Back Clarke
Football is considered a results business and if we were simply to judge Clarke based on the league table then it's hard to make a case to dispatch a manager that's taken a side to ninth in the table just a single point off the play-off places. We've lost just five times in 18 games, or six in 21 if you want to include a cup run that was only ended by some awful goalkeeping against a very strong Everton side.
We finished last season more concerned with relegation than promotion so on that basis he's moving us forward even if it's not as quick as we'd like. His approval rating was 3.6/5 just two weeks ago and we've even won a game since then. Few expected promotion in the summer and yet we're still in with a good chance of it.
How would Steve Coppell have performed without Steve Sidwell and Brynjar Gunnarsson? How would Brian McDermott have got on without Jem Karacan and Mikele Leigertwood? How would Mark McGhee have coped without Dillon & Gooding? Almost universally the answer would be 'not well' and that's the situation facing our manager without Stephen Quinn and Aaron Tshibola, two players at the very heart of our midfield and central to the early progress we made this season. There's a good reason that those players kept the likes of Piazon, Fernandez and Ola John out of the side in August and September and that's because they're better players. It's hard to expect the same impressive results we saw in August and September when you're working with inferior players but that seems to be the expectation for some fans right now.
The Cost Of Sacking Him
Financially it'll cost us a fair chunk of change to dismiss Clarke, money that could well be spent on the playing staff come January. Many fans were upset at all the upheaval that would come behind the scenes if the Scotsman left for Fulham but now I see the same fans advocating for a sacking that would see us probably have to change the whole backroom staff anyway. Throw in the costs of wages from players favored by Clarke but not wanted by a new manager and you're looking at a pretty hefty bill even before the costs of a new manager and his team are considered.
Reasons To Sack Clarke
Recent Performances & Results
Even with the key injuries taken into consideration, Reading have been very disappointing against some of the division's most average teams. Since the international break following the 2-0 win over Middlesbrough we've won two, drawn three and lost three. Even the two wins were very ordinary, with a late goal sinking ten-man Charlton and then Ali Al-Habsi being named Man of the Match against lowly Bolton. The teams that have beaten us have hardly been world beaters in Cardiff, Fulham and Forest while we also needed a late strike tor rescue a point against a Huddersfield team who sacked their manager just hours later. The only bright spot was the draw with Brighton but even then it's a game Reading probably should have won.
The Fulham Saga(s)
This season might very well be defined by the club just down the M4. Firstly that dreadful capitulation when 2-0 up and comfortable at Craven Cottage that started a collapse in form and then the saga that saw Clarke seemingly destined to join the Cottagers before a late u-turn kept him at the Madejski Stadium. Some like our own Will saw reasons to forgive and understand his managerial hokey cokey but for others it was a betrayal that saw trust damaged beyond repair. The atmosphere in the stadium had a fairly deflated mood to it against Bolton plus the lack of spirit in both games since the saga does make you question the atmopshere in the dressing room.
Clarke spent a fair chunk of change on the squad during the transfer window but so far the results have been far from spectacular. Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn have undoubtedly been hits but elsewhere have we really seen much of an upgrade on the players allowed to leave the club? Orlando Sa and Matej Vydra have just seven goals between them and three came in one game for Sa, who's found the net just once since being sent off against Derby in mid-September. Alex Fernandez, Ola John and Paolo Hurtado have managed just three starts combined while Lucas Piazon has blown hot but mostly cold since arriving from Chelsea. Throw in a series of costly errors from 'keepers Jonathan Bond and Ali Al-Habsi and it's getting harder to argue that Clarke spent wisely this summer.
The FA Cup run last season was awesome but it helped cover up a rotten league record for Clarke that's not gotten massively better. Overall here's his record compared to other recent Reading bosses in the Championship.
That table makes for bleak reading and when you consider that six of those 13 wins came in a seven game spell it's meant just seven wins in 36 games, hardly the form of a manager that should be safe from heavy scrutiny.
So those are just a few of the basic arguments on either side but we want to know how YOU feel about the Reading manager right now. So let us know in the comments section and vote in the poll below.