In just a few hours the January Transfer Window will shut. Anyone remotely interested in football becomes glued to internet newsfeeds, whilst unknowing relatives might think you’re infatuated with Sky Sports’ Jim White!
As Reading's league campaign stalls, Mad Stad personnel could find themselves working till the final minutes bringing in new faces to spark life into the season.
But if YOU were Brian McDermott (Or maybe one of the club’s owners,) what would you do? Or should that be, what deals would you make to resuscitate Reading’s season? Try and keep it realistic…
Bring in a new goalkeeper?
Brian’s two league wins are also the only Champinonship clean sheets since his managerial return. Initially showing faith in Jonathan Bond, Christmas saw favour switch to Ali Al-Habsi with whom our fortunes haven’t exactly improved. Given McDermott’s handed a stint to each, is it fair to say neither keeper seem up to it, thus we need a new third option?
How about a defender?
Highlighting an obvious weak link within Reading’s defensive options is tough. But thus far, this group have conceded 39 goals across all competitions, and would you believe they’ve only once managed consecutive clean sheets!? That happened way back in October and letting in sloppy goals hasn’t abated either. Perhaps a newbie would sure things-up, tighten that back-line a la Andy Griffin and Zurab Khizanishvili in 2010?
Focus on Chris Gunter and Hal Robson-Kanu’s contract sagas?
Had Reading not cashed in on Nick Blackman this window, he’d have potentially left Berkshire as a free agent in June. That scenario could also await Chris Gunter and Hal Robson-Kanu, but there’s the small matter of representing Wales at Euro 2016 beforehand. The Welsh squad look set to become media darlings and with that could come two VERY public transfer sagas, especially given how prominent the Reading duo feature internationally. They’re also key figures at the club; Gunter is our only recognised right-back while Hal’s featuring more and has improved since McDermott’s return. Crucially though, their contracts/wages are leftovers from the expensive TSI /Anton Zingarevich era. Can we afford their renewals?
Should any club make an offer, would selling either player now make good financial sense? After all it could then be reinvested? On the other hand, securing a contract extension not only safeguards them, but also commands a bigger fee from any post Euro suitors, both aiding Reading's long-term plans. Keeping the status quo means preparing for a Steve Sidwell-esque showdown or two come summer. Which would you pick?
Sign another midfielder?
How many midfielders do Reading need? Well you’re the gaffer, however many you think! Out of the dozen or so available maybe we’re lacking that: tough tackler, enforcer general, one touch genius, maybe even that guy who can spot a chance from lightyears away? One player COULD make all the difference. Do you think it’s here?
Get another striker through the door?
Following the departures of Blackman and Orlando Sa; the Royals no longer own a forward that’s netted a Championship goal this campaign. On loan and still not in full swing is Matej Vydra, whose last league goal came in November. Otherwise it’s down to new arrivals Yann Kermorgant and Deniss Rakels. Goals win games and recent results suggest we need to start scoring fast. Perhaps we need more options?
Return the loan players?
Football’s loan system has worked wonders for RFC in the past, but this season isn’t going to plan. Following the Steve Clarke/Fulham debacle, Chief Exec Nigel Howe noted there were "too many" at the club, with the situation needing review. Is this still an issue? Currently six loanees reside within the Madejski ranks and recent pickings denote Lucas Piazon, Ola John and Vydra as regulars. Although not necessarily negative of their own volition, loan players do operate around a personal agenda. Could these be damaging the dressing room? Further still are they (or some) holding Reading’s ambitions to ransom?
Bring through the youngsters?
Over recent years Reading FC’s academy has really borne decent fruit. It could even be the Championship’s best. Brian’s promotion squad of 2012 stands as testament, given some of its key components were academy graduates. Currently Jake Cooper and Jordan Obita look to emulate their alumni. Yet last term we saw decent outings from Tarique Fosu, Niall Keown, Aaron Kuhl, Dominic Samuel and Jack Stacey, most of whom we’ve since loaned out. If we want them to likewise become first team regulars, then perhaps we should hand them their chance? No time like the present.
Sell someone else?
If you’re not keen on cashing in on either Gunter or HRK, perhaps there’s another player (or players) in the squad you want gone? You’re the manager/owner (fictitiously) after all. Leave a comment below on who it is and maybe where you’d reinvest the money.
If you’re opting for this then clearly you really believe in the squad (nothing wrong with that) or maybe you’re realistic against expectations? So come Monday night, turn your phone notifications off and simply watch the rolling news with the rest of us. Why not leave all the Mad Stad and Hogwood office lights on though? Laugh at the journos thinking it’s go go go. I would.
So out of all the possible options, which would you take come transfer deadline day? Vote and comment below.