"Don't Panic!" as Clive Dunn used to say in Dad’s Army. It’s also what I say to all Reading fans currently fearing the worst at the moment.
In the past few days following the departures of Adam Federici and Alex Pearce, I've seen many supporters on social media criticising the club and Steve Clarke with typical quotes such as "we are the next Blackpool" and "League One here we come". For me, this couldn't be further from the truth.
We've seen two players leave whose departures were pretty much inevitable as they were out of contract, yet some are reacting as if both Feds and Pearce had five years left on their contracts and that it’s crisis central at the club. I thank both players for the many years of service they gave our team, but Pearce needed a fresh start and Federici was unlikely to turn down an offer from the Premier League.
Calling for change
Throughout the campaign, fans were calling for change, yet now that it is happening, they don't like it. In the current squad, I don't feel that there are any players that are irreplaceable, and that includes Federici and Pearce. For that reason, there’s no reason to be worried about players leaving.
Some supporters are acting like its transfer deadline day and we haven’t made any signings the whole summer. The window is barely minutes old! The only players we've been able to bring in are free agents, which limits the shortlist as there’s few realistic and quality out of contract players out there.
We've got to trust Steve Clarke. In his two summer transfer windows at West Brom, he didn’t sign anyone until late June, yet still managed to bring quality additions into the side. According to reports, our Thai owners are yet to tell him his budget, so how is he to start negotiations with other clubs? Even when there is money available, it won’t be huge. We aren't going to break the bank this summer, and transfers will be shrewd. You don’t have to spend loads to be successful. Ipswich proved that last season.
Youngsters and loanees
There’s a fantastic youth academy here, and there’s plenty of players who are ready to make the step up and play regularly. Jake Cooper, Jack Stacey and Dominic Samuel are the ones that stand out for me, as they play in positions we are perhaps lacking in. Clarke showed similar intentions by playing Cooper and Stacey towards the back end of last season, and Samuel enjoyed a very good loan spell at Coventry before getting injured.
Clarke has shown that he is comfortable dipping into the loan market, and Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Ake impressed greatly last season. Those links with Chelsea are likely to come in handy once again, and I'm confident that he will be able to build a squad that does not face the threat of relegation, a prospect which many fans think is a possibility, despite the new season being two months away.
Anything can happen in the next few weeks. Players will leave, players will come in. That is what is needed, and Steve Clarke knows that. You could tell he wasn't happy with his squad last season. Pre-season then gives the new-look squad time to gel, meaning we should hopefully be raring to go on August 8th.
As aforementioned, the transfer window has barely even opened yet, so there’s no need to panic. If the situation is the same at the start of August, I may start to worry. But right now, change is what is needed, and if that means that players go out before they come in, so be it. We are not turning into "a selling club" or "a joke club". I mean seriously? It’s not the club that needs to get their act together, its fans who are disillusioned after two players who effectively didn't even belong to the club unsurprisingly move on. Harsh but true.
Do you agree with Olly? Or do you think there are serious signs for concern? Let us know below.