This one has certainly come out of the blue. Reading's Director of Football, Nicky Hammond, is set to leave the club and take up a similar role at West Brom. This originally came from the Daily Telegraph's John Percy, but has since been confirmed by the club.
Speaking about the news, Brian McDermott said...
"When any member of staff leaves a football club it is always difficult, but I have worked very closely with Nick Hammond throughout all my time at Reading.
He was instrumental in the two promotions to the Premier League achieved during his tenure and, in my opinion, he is right up there as one of the very best Directors of Football in the game.
Nick has done a fantastic job for Reading Football Club, but more importantly he is a top guy - and myself and all the staff here will miss him very much. I would like to personally wish him all the very best in his new venture."
Hammond has been part of the furniture at Reading for quite a while now. Having played in goal for the club in the late 1990s, he's been Director of Football since 2003. Naturally, that makes him far better acquainted with the set-up at the Madejski Stadium than most others. He worked under Alan Pardew, Steve Coppell, Brendan Rodgers, Brian McDermott, Nigel Adkins and Steve Clarke, so today's development removes a lot of the backroom continuity.
During his time as Director of Football, Hammond's had a very mixed reception from the fans. On the one hand, people point to a supposed 'lack of ambition' in signing players. However, it must be said that Hammond has squeezed extra money out of clubs when negotiating transfer fees for outgoing Reading players. Examples like Matt Mills and Nick Blackman spring to mind - players who evidently didn't want a future in Berkshire, but Reading still managed to get a lot of cash for.
Interestingly, Hammond will be replaced by Nigel Howe, who will work 'with the assistance of Head of International Football Development, Brian Tevreden'. I think it's fair to say that we're now at a major junction for the club's future. How the new set-up works, with Howe and Tevreden at the helm, will be vital for any success over the next few years.
Here's a brief selection of how you guys reacted on Twitter to the news
Some of you were pretty sad...
Like or loathe him,Nick Hammond has been a great servant of #readingfc -he will be missed— Carl (@RFCCSB) April 29, 2016
Hammond is superb at negotiating deals. Never understood the abuse he gets, but I don't think those people understood his role #readingfc— Radio210 (@Royaltypoints) April 29, 2016
Squeaky is off? Blimey.— Stevie Fishwick (@skinnyandwirey) April 29, 2016
He got of unnecessary abuse, but I think he did a great job.
Good luck to him#readingfc
...and some of you really weren't...
Right, who wants a drink to celebrate Hammond departing?! #readingfc— Mark Harding (@markharding1988) April 29, 2016
Whilst Jamie makes this good point.
The club needed to be sorted out from the top. This is a good start. Someone to come in with new ideas #readingfc— Jamie Hodder (@Jamie_Hodder21) April 29, 2016