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OPINION: Squad Review And Planning for Next Season

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In this article, Michael will be discussing current season aspirations, and the outlook for next season.

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Where are we heading? Can we make a playoff push? Are we thin on ACTUAL Reading FC players?

These are the questions a lot of us are wondering about at this point in time.

Brian McDermott famously took us from the bottom half of the table in his early Reading managerial career to a play-off final, with a squad mix of veterans, a few of Brendan Rodgers' signings and some of our own talent. By definition, our team overachieved for the talent we had. During our promotion season, we also had no big names, very little money invested in the squad and a chairman who was looking to sell. After what seemed like a genius signing in Jason Roberts, we surged to the top of the league and beat Southampton.

In my mind, and really thinking about it with hindsight - the team had absolutely no right on paper to have achieved promotion, but we did. This really highlighted Brian's motivational skills and camaraderie that he had with his squad.

What about now?

This season however, is a different picture entirely. We have a team abundant in talent, which has been deprived of confidence after two very non-Reading type managers seem to have had an effect on them.

Steve Clarke seemed disciplined, and had links all over the place, but he possessed no tactical improvements over Adkins, apart from defensively. Adkins ran out of ideas during the awful false billionaire Anton Zingarevich period, and had no backing to do what he needed to do. Clarke and Adkins never seemed to have the same bond with the squad the way Brian does.

A big problem that Brian seems to have kept with him is player favoritism and struggling for that plan B at times. He has improved slightly, but the amount of time it took Ola John to get into the team really showed a lack of understanding of our current squad. Deniss Rakels has hardly played for whatever reason. We could finish ninth if we rack up a few wins in this division.

Should we start playing the players on our books?

Yes, and no, and maybe. That may sound confusing, but I am sure that is exactly what is going through Brian's mind currently. The 'maybe' part being, can he convert any of those loans into permanent signings, and does he want to? With Ola John I think we have a talented player and I am sure Brian will be on Hammond's case to get a deal. If Dmitry Rybolovlev invests as he plans to, this may aid in the signing. John doesn't have long left on his Benfica contract and a deal with us may not be a fantasy after all.

To explain 'Yes', we have a fountain of talented youth such as Samuel, Tshibola, Cooper and Fosu, all of whom in my mind are good enough to be in the squad now. With Hal, Cox, Piazon, Fernandez, Taylor, Ferdinand, Hector and Vydra all unlikely to be Reading players next season, I believe Reading will have no choice but look to youth, at least as part of the squad.

To explain 'No', even with little to play for, we can't just throw the season away and Brian still has to pick his best team. I am sure he will have his mind on next season, and will be giving several players game time to work out whether he can keep them next season. Fernandez is a player I feel has been very unlucky, and will probably be available in the summer. I would snap him up, but Brian doesn't seem to like him.

Next season, I believe our squad may end up looking a bit like the below:

GK: Al Habsi, Bond, (new player)

RB: Gunter, (new player)

CB:McShane, Cooper, (new player), (academy player)

LB: Obita, (new player)

LW: Ola John (or new player), Fosu

RW: McCleary, (new player)

CM: Norwood, Quinn, Tshibola, Evans

CF: Kermorgant, Rakels, Samuel, (new player)

Any business we do will rely on what money we have and who we retain.

That wraps up my views on current and future affairs. Please comment below with your views.