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VOTE: Who Is To Blame For Reading FC's Decline Into Mediocrity?

With the #McDermottOut calls getting louder and louder, we give our verdict on which parties we think have played a part in Reading's decline and want to hear who YOU think deserves criticism.

I should start by saying that this is not a call for a witch hunt on any individual(s) by The Tilehurst End or me. We merely wanted to highlight how the current state of the club is not down to one individual.

Things could easily improve very quickly next season, but at the moment it feels like Reading FC is on a Coventry City style slow decline into League One. No one involved with the club wants that to happen.

Nigel Adkins

For the first few months of his reign it looked like the claim when he was appointed that he was the man who would bring passing football to the Madejski Stadium would come true. But from September 2012 any style, tactics or strategy seemed to vanish.

Sure he was dealt a bad hand by Zingarevich, but by modern football standards Adkins was given time at the club, and yet there was no sign that he had any obvious plan for how Reading should play.

Verdict: Far from the worst culprit but... GUILTY (with a suspended sentence until he reoffends, which it looks like he's doing at Sheffield United)

Steve Clarke

Taking over from Adkins was a tough gig. A playing style that had not been changed from the previous decade and a squad full of mediocre players who knew and needed to leave the club. With that bad cocktail it was no surprise that Reading's league form suffered in the second half of last season.

But despite that Clarke's coaching and tactics took Reading to the FA Cup semi-final where we almost pulled of an incredible shock against Arsenal. There was further evidence in the early part of this season of why he is one of the most highly rated British coaches of his generation. Some of the football we played in late summer/early autumn was superb.

However, there were also signs of Clarke's inexperience as a manager and of the Championship. I defend his right to talk to Fulham, but will admit it was an odd move from him, though in hindsight it says a lot about Reading FC that he even thought that an obviously unattractive job at Fulham could be worth investigating. He was sacked far too soon for it to be clear that he was a problem.

Verdict: NOT GUILTY (but strongly advised not to talk to other clubs so publicly)

Steve Coppell

Reading FC stopped looking forward way back in 2007 when rather than improve our squad we signed players like Alan Bennett and Michael Duberry. A few months later Coppell publicly said he thought reaching Europe would be bad for the club.

It was the beginning of the near decade long approach of standing still which has seen the club slowly decline. However, I am loathed to criticise a man who brought such success and joy to the club, and he left seven years ago which is more than long enough to change things at the club.


Nicky Hammond

It is always hard for fans to judge a Director of Football because nearly all of their work is done behind closed doors. The sale of Nick Blackman in January, for a rumoured £3m rising to £4m, shows that Hammond is still good at his job. However, shouldn't a man with such talents be doing more?

From the outside it looks like his role is contract and transfer negotiator. I want to see Hammond do more. He should be the figurehead for the football side of the club, deciding what type of players we sign, how we play and the role of the academy.

With modern day football's revolving doors for managers, Hammond should be setting the agenda for the managers. They should fit in with him and the club, not the otherway around. It still feels like he is working in the same way when Coppell and Madejski were in charge. He should take more responsibility.

That we haven't seen or heard more from him might be because we cannot see his work, or that those above him have not asked him to step up.


Nigel Howe

Like Hammond, it is easy to overlook Howe's role at the club, but it is starting to feel like too many people have been hiding from taking responsibility. As the man who is supposedly in charge of day to day running of the club that should be Howe's job.

His handling of Clarke talking to Fulham was a disaster. We'll never know the full story, but if you give someone permission to talk to another employer you have to entertain the possibility that they will stay. If that's a problem for you then you do not give permission.

His press conference after the talks only made the situation worse and it looked like the club was looking for a reason to sack Clarke. That is not a way to run a football club. The return of McDermott had all the hallmarks of being his and Hammond's idea.

Of course Howe may be constrained by the Thais and may be doing work which we cannot see and will have to wait to see the benefits from. But in the context of this season, the output of his leadership has been clear to see on the pitch.

Verdict: GUILTY

John Madejski

Like Coppell, I do not want to criticise a man who transformed Reading FC. Without him it could have been just as likely that we would have emulated Stockport County, as reach the Premier League.

However, he must come under for some criticism for selling the club to Zingarevich. The years before that sale also saw the club never look beyond the current season. A wise move perhaps for a club short of money, but the lack of long term thinking only continued the standing still decline.


Brian McDermott

If this was McDermott's first spell in the club, then I would say he was not guilty. The club has long term problems and he has not been given long enough to try and fix some of them.

However, this is not his first time as Reading manager and as a result everything that has happened since his appointment has sadly been predictable. He still comes across as a decent man who is an excellent man manager but he also still looks limited as a coach. When his teams are not on form, they can be at best boring, at worst tedious to watch.

It says a lot about his man management ability, that in his first spell, when his teams got worse, their results got better. Eventually the limited style of play caught up with McDermott and Reading, and it has become a long term problem.

Verdict: GUILTY (suspended sentence and advised to change his ways)

The Players

Too many of the current squad do not want to be at Reading FC. Lucas Piazon and Matej Vydra don't want to be on loan from the Premier League. Ola John would rather be playing for Benfica in the Champions League than meaningless Championship games for Reading. Danny Williams didn't leave the Bundesliga to sit mid-table in the Championship. The list is too long even if most of those players' attitudes cannot be questioned.

Put too many of those types of players together though and you get the current look of a frustrated and unmotivated set of players. I can see why they feel like that. They're only human but no one forced them to be at Reading FC. They should be doing better individually and collectively.

Verdict: GUILTY

Brendan Rodgers

Like Clarke, was not at the club long enough to really be guilty. He did at least try to change the way we played football, but his persona helped discourage conservative elements from embracing much needed change.


The Thais

I still cannot see why they took over the club, and it shows. There's no obvious plan or ambition. It's as absent as they are. The best I can say about them, is that on the evidence so far they could be much worse. What part of that sentence needs emphasising remains to be seen.

Verdict: GUILTY (in absentia)

Anton Zingarevich

A fraud. There's much more that needs to be said. His only defence is that it was never him who pushed the whole thing about him being a fan when he was younger. That and the rumour that Vladimir Putin told his Dad that it would be a good idea to invest in the Sochi Olympics. Putin is just a little scarier than Reading fans.

Verdict: GUILTY