The 2005/06 season will forever be enshrined in Reading Football Club folklore. The record breaking side which swept aside all opponents en route to 106 points will never be forgotten. It's ten years since Royals fans were taken on that amazing rollercoaster, but just how was that campaign constructed?
This is the question that The Sum Of The Parts aims to answer, and it does so with great detail, as well as revealing some surprising details about not only the club that campaign, but the years leading up to that remarkable season.
TSOTP starts with a look back through Reading's history under Sir John Madejski and reveals his influence in transforming the club's fortunes both on and off the pitch. It's quickly apparent that the club was very much on the right track to rise to the top division thanks to all the work behind the scenes. What's more surprising is the influence of Alan Pardew, who revolutionized various parts of the club and was more important than certainly I believed in setting up the club for its rise to the top flight.
Of course we all know the acrimonious circumstances in which Pardew departed, but the book goes in-depth on the search for the man who would lead Reading to the Premier League - Steve Coppell. This is where TSOTP's plethora of behind-the-scenes interviews really add depth to a story which could easily be narrated, but instead is intensely analyzed by the people who saw it first-hand. Madejski, Nick Hammond, Nigel Howe and even Ron Grant give their views on every step of the journey, the moves Reading made and how they affected the club's fortunes. Candid in their opinions, it's the decision-makers' views and processes which add a layer of intrigue to the fable.
One of the more interesting behind-the-scenes revelations comes from a company that many won't have even heard about. Performance consultancy firm Catalyst were involved with the club during the 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons, and their influence was felt by the coaches and the players almost straight away. The Royals were their first football client, and TSOTP's interview with CEO Mark Reynolds is both amusing and revealing in equal measure. And this side-story demonstrates the biggest strength of the book - its ability to reveal new parts of a story that many thought had already been told, through the words of those who lived it.
You'll notice that the consultancy firm was only used for two seasons... and the 2007/08 campaign resulted in relegation. TSOTP doesn't just give a day-by-day account of the 106 season, or the years of work which laid the foundation for that unforgettable journey. It also looks into the changes in the club which started the fall from grace, back into the Championship. It may make for painful reading but it's entirely necessary to fully understand the journey of a football club, from joy to despair, from glory to heartbreak. In this sense TSOTP reveals the inner workings not just of Reading Football Club, but clubs all across the world, in just how they develop and deal with problems and issues which could destabilize years of work.
The Sum Of The Parts is a vital tome for any Reading fan who wants to understand just how the club's remarkable 2005/06 season was not simply an anomaly, but was set up through years of hard work and great decisions by those behind the scenes. It's a fantastic read that'll have you remembering the highs and lows of "106", and the years that surrounded our most famous of campaigns.