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Reading FC Boss Steve Clarke Talks Transfers, Federici, Last Season & More

The Reading manager gave an in-depth interview to BBC Radio Berkshire on Saturday at Royal Ascot. You can listen to the full conversation here - it's an riveting forty minutes - but we've collated the key points for you.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

- On the negativity around the club last season: Important to break the negative cycle, after relegation and the results from last season. Trying to freshen the place up and get things on the up again.

- On the FA Cup run against the league form: It all came together on the last day against Derby County with no pressure. The FA Cup run had a sense of making something special happen for the club. They enjoyed the underdog status because of the lack of pressure.

- On the high-profile names that have left: The free agents held all the aces because the club let the contracts run down. Adam Federici has a great chance with Bournemouth in the Premier League. Right time for both parties with Alex Pearce to head in a new direction. Jem Karacan's offer includes an element of "pay as you play" but he is understandably taking his time, including an offer from abroad. They were Premier League contracts which had to be run down so we could offer Championship contracts.

- On Adam Federici specifically: We offered a very good Championship contract but can understand his desire to challenge himself in the Premier League with Bournemouth.

- On Anton Ferdinand: Pre-season will be crucial and he can't break down again. He's been training with Chicago Fire this summer rather than taking the time off. Hopefully he can stay fit for the season - it's a big "if" - because he has Premier League quality.

- On Pavel Pogrebnyak: He was Clarke's top goalscorer and he gave everything for the club last season. One year left on his contract so he has a decision to make - playing for a new deal here or elsewhere so can't rest on his laurels. But he's a true professional on the training ground and during games.

- Is there money to bring players in: Still waiting to get confirmation of budgets. Two or three deals ready to be pushed over the line and waiting for the green light from the higher-ups in Thailand. Nervous about when that will happen, as the deals need to be pushed through early this week. But the names involved would excite the supporters.

- In terms of the goalkeeping position: More likely to buy a goalkeeper for a small fee than sign one of the free agents that have been linked with the club. Wes Foderingham and Brad Jones are the most high-profile keepers that could join on a free transfer but Clarke implies they'll be looking elsewhere.

- On the Thailand tour: Flying out on the 5th of July. Chance for the owners to showcase Reading to the country. Bulk of physical work will be done before the tour because of conditions out there. Happy to be out there for a week, rather than longer, because of the climate.

- On the departure of so many staff this off-season: Important to freshen up the club behind the scenes as well, it wasn't a decision taken lightly and discussed with all relevant parties before making the call. The new staff have been lined up already.

- On the importance of this summer: It's a big summer for everyone involved, with so much changing around the club at every level. Reading didn't spend much in January so now it's time for the owners to step up and prove what backing they will provide for the Royals.

- On who will come in and when: Most business likely to be done towards the end of the window, unfortunately. We need a senior goalkeeper, a central defender, another midfielder and two strikers. If we get those Clarke will be happy with the squad, but equally we might get a few offers for some of our players.

- On prospects for next season: Promise we won't be in a relegation fight - if the owners back Clarke. But the hard work will continue and hoping for a good season.

- On the competitiveness of The Championship: Little between all the teams. Clarke and Kevin Keen spoke last season about the similarity of each match. You never know who will challenge at the top and bottom. The league has surprised Clarke.

- On what he would have changed: Would have spent more in January. The loan and free signings took criticism at times but players like Yakubu and Zat Knight brought experience to the training ground which is often overlooked. Cooper learnt lots from Knight. Yakubu brilliant in training but couldn't quite do it in games.

- On Michael Hector's future: Every player has a price but of course we don't want to sell him. He and Garath McCleary won't be back with the squad until August because of Jamaica's Gold Cup experience.


A lot was covered during the interview so I really do recommend you listen to the full forty or so minutes on the BBC Berkshire website.

In an era of generic interviews and robotic soundbites with footballers and managers, the honesty from Clarke here is particularly refreshing. Admitting he doesn't know about budgets yet was a big surprise but otherwise the direction of the club under the Scot looks positive.

Hopefully we'll be hearing about signings in the next few days; we'll also be running one of our Approval Ratings at the start of July to see how you feel about the gaffer going forward.

What do you think, Tilehurst Enders? Pleased that Clarke's come out and spoken so freely about the state of the club? Worried about the ownership and the state of the squad?