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Who Will Replace Steve Clarke?

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Steve Clarke is officially history, so who will take over at the Mad Stad? Marc takes a look at the contenders.

Ooo, ooo. Pick Me! Pick Me!
Ooo, ooo. Pick Me! Pick Me!
Clint Hughes/Getty Images

Nigel Pearson - 10/11 Favourite

The overwhelming front runner in the early stakes, former Leicester boss Pearson seems set to take the reigns at the Madejski, if the bookies are to be believed. He's even as low as 1/2 with certain outlets. The no nonsense Nottingham-born former defender began his managerial career with varying caretaker roles at the likes of England Under-21s and Newcastle United. He kept Southampton from League One relegation in his first proper employment in 2008 but found himself relieved of duty, ending up at Leicester where his first spell won the Foxes the third-tier title and to the Championship play-offs.

A brief stint in Hull ended up with Pearson being drawn back to Leicester where he originally found little consistency, finishing ninth before a stunning defeat to Watford in the 2012/13 play-offs semi-finals. The next season Pearson really rose to the pressure, winning the title and keeping the Foxes in the Premier League despite being bottom at Christmas. Despite this, he was replaced by Claudio Ranieri in June 2015, the club citing a breakdown in working relationship.

That highlights the down side of a potential Pearson premiership. There has been a distinct waft of controversy that follows him in recent years. Whether we can really pin him down on his players unfortunately sordid act of racism on a pre-season tour in Thailand of all places - which indicted his son - is difficult to debate, but there's plenty of regret that Pearson's brought on himself. Grappling Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur's neck, explicitly arguing with his own fans, and calling a journalist an ostrich are all stamped onto his permanent record. Do we want that sort of guy at Reading? It appears we may not get a choice.

Phil Parkinson - 16/1

Parky represents the exact opposite option to Pearson, and as low as 8/1 with some bookies he's certainly in with a shout. His club legend status needs no introduction, the former Royals captain joined from Bury in 1992 and left in 2003 a club hero, retiring to begin a managerial career that has impressed in large parts. This began in Colchester, specialising in cup competition runs before achieving an unprecedented promotion to the Championship. However, he resigned before 2006/07 season to join Hull City.

The Tigers and Parky didn't quite get on, so after a poor run he was dismissed in December, earning another shot at management with Charlton in January 2007, as assistant to former Royals supremo Alan Pardew. Taking over the following year, the Addicks were relegated to League One and despite making the play-offs, he left South London in 2011.

His current club, Bradford, took on the ex-midfielder in August 2011. His first season took the club to League Two safety, allowing him to begin a project of rejuvenating one of the biggest clubs in the lower divisions. League form was decent, but like before the cups proved to be his speciality. Reaching the League Cup final in 2013 was a masterpiece, dumping out Arsenal and Aston Villa en-route to Wembley.

That year he was promoted via the play-offs, beating Northampton 3-0. In League One ambitions were high and questions over his league form remain as the Bantams fail to seriously challenge for promotion despite many promising signs. They currently sit ninth and will put up a fight to keep their boss.

Martin Kuhl - 8/1

Appointing from within cannot be ruled out, and has proved very successful in the past for Reading. The Quinn-Gooding partnership took Reading to 2nd and the play-offs in 1995 and the little known Brian McDermott rose from scout to superstar in a four-year spell that won the Championship title in 2012. Martin Kuhl may be the next name to join that list, being placed in caretaker charge after Clarke's dismissal.

Lacking in managerial experience, the former midfielder made over 500 league appearances between 1983 and 2002 before joining the Aldershot backroom staff. He later joined the Royals, focussing on the youth setup and this could work in his favour, given the club's advocacy of it's growing youth structure. However, with academy boss Eamonn Dolan still recovering from cancer, this may lead to Kuhl sticking with the academy.

Gary Rowett - 5/1

The Rowett Revolution at St. Andrews has certainly impressive, taking a side devoid of big name talent to contend the play-off places in the early months of 2015/16. Recent form has dropped off, however, with the 41-year-old being relentlessly linked with a move to Fulham - sound familiar? Nevertheless, he found success at Burton Albion, taking them to the play-offs before leaving for Birmingham.

He certainly has ambitions, wisely refusing to leave Burton for Blackpool in 2014, and it appears a move upwards would tempt the former defender. Whether Reading can convince Rowett that Berkshire is the place to match those ambitions will remain to be seen, but with serious finance and ownership issues in the Midlands, you can't rule it out.

Rank Outsiders

Speak of the devil, Mr. McDermott appears at 14/1 to hint at a departure from Arsenal's scouting system. That would likely divide the fans, some yearning for his attacking football while others remind that you should never go back. Tim Sherwood sits at a lower price of 12/1, and a drop down to the Championship certainly looks inevitable after his sacking at Aston Villa. Barcelona boss Luis Enrique will likely be sick of rumours linking him with Reading, but at 20/1 we'll have to wait for the man himself to come out and deny that he will finally take up the offer of a move to Berkshire. Reading fans, meanwhile, will be chomping at the bit to deny any association with a certain B. Rodgers, who is available at 33/1.

Odds provided by OddsChecker.