This website has already been through the week that changed Reading, so if you're interested in that you can have a lovely little click'n'read on that there link before coming back here.
What I'm interested in is something I'm calling The Clarke Effect. It's a simple theory, it goes like this: Reading have only been able to attract the likes of Sa, Quinn, McShane and Bond because of Steve Clarke.
Wait, hear me out.
Part of the reason behind these completed transfers and exciting rumours is that the Thai consortium have finally stepped up and put their money where their mouths are. Sure, Quinn and McShane were free transfers but they won't be on small wages—and Sa was signed for around £1m. I don't expect the consortium to go out and spend £10m in one summer, that's not a feasible business plan, but they seem to finally be backing their man and that man is crucial to Reading's success in the next season or so.
The wobbly years
It's fair to say that Nigel Adkins didn't work out, but it's also fair to say Adkins was screwed over by the Zingarevich era which left the former Southampton manager in the lurch. Brian McDermott was sacked by the Russian at an awkward time after a few successful seasons and the less said about Brendan Rodgers the better, which makes the capture of respected former Chelsea defender, Mourninho number two and West Bromwich Albion manager even more impressive.
The Thais came in, saw that Adkins wasn't achieving all he should after the additions of Cox, Norwood and Murray and acted swiftly to bring Clarke in. What a coup.
Clarke picked up the reins and had Reading push Arsenal hard in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium whilst gradually improving the defensive side of the Royals' game, even if they relapsed and put in poor performances more often than not. Part of the problem was that the squad had grown stale, as our editor Wimb pointed out back in February. Sure, some blame can be put on Clarke for not making the most of what he had, but the majority of fans would agree that playing staff changes were needed before we could think about anything close to a promotion push.
Fortunately, the Thais are a little freer to manoeuvre in the transfer market, with FFP regulations slightly less of a concern now that disproportionately high earners Alex Pearce, Adam Federici and Jem Karacan have all departed (or, in Karacan's case, seem to have) and with Steve Clarke in charge, they have the perfect man to lead the revolution.
Steve Clarke is highly regarded in the game. Even so-called 'Special One' Mourinho said, "He's a special guy in my career" back in 2013. He knows how to set up his teams, he knows what he wants in his teams, he knows what attributes he needs and where to make his system work. He also knows whom to trust when it comes to scouting players.
Quite simply, the likes of Sa, Quinn or McShane signing for Reading under the tutelage of the likes of Rodgers, McDermott or Adkins wouldn't have happened because they didn't have the pulling power of our Steve. He's got what it takes to manage in the Premier League—players know that and trust that he'll achieve that with Reading. Why else would they sign for our tinpot club (wink)?
Steve Clarke is the ideal man to lead a club revival. He's got pedigree, knows what he's doing, isn't afraid to make the hard decisions—like releasing Sal Bibbo—and is intent on getting back to the Premier League.
This club will only challenge for the Premier League again with a manager as well-respected, experienced and with as much pulling power as Steve Clarke. The players we need won't come otherwise.