Anton Ferdinand has for me been one of the more frustrating players of the last few seasons. After arriving on a free transfer in the summer of 2014, the ex-West Ham defender would go on to make just 21 appearances under Nigel Adkins, Steve Clarke and Brian McDermott. Injuries blighted his two seasons in Berkshire, but I think he can still, on balance, hold his head high.
Interestingly, in the first place, Ferdinand almost didn't move to Reading at all, seemingly being on the verge of signing for Thai side Police United. However, with that transfer collapsing, he later opted for Reading. Back then of course, the Royals were in the middle of a takeover, with Samrit Bunditkitsada (the owner of Police United) apparently involved. Despite Samrit's exit from the scene, Ferdinand remained at the club.
His debut season was, in truth, a nightmare for all concerned. Constant fitness worries prevented Ferdinand from making more than two appearances - starting one game and coming off the bench in another.
We may look back on the summer pre-season as a precursor to Nick Blackman's excellent form later in the year, but it was also a break-out period for Ferdinand. Having regained full fitness, he put in some excellent displays at the back, not least against Swansea at Adams Park. Indeed, for many Reading fans, myself included, Ferdinand was the obvious choice for Steve Clarke's new captain. However, that honour ultimately went to Paul McShane.
Paul McShane straight in the starting XI as captain! Surprising that Ferdinand wasn't selected considering the pre season he had! #readingfc— Matt (@Stopmat1998) August 8, 2015
Despite being overlooked as captain, Ferdinand went on to have an excellent start to the season alongside Paul McShane, playing in the wins against Brentford and Ipswich Town. Ultimately though, good form from Michael Hector broke that partnership up. Nonetheless, over the course of the entire campaign, Ferdinand appeared 22 times, with all but three of those being for the full 90 minutes.
For me, the Ferdinand/McShane partnership was the best one Reading have had at the back since Alex Pearce and Kaspars Gorkss in 2011/12. Sure, there wasn't a lot of pace or mobility between the two, but their experience more than made up for that. Especially in the early part of the season when Reading looked at their most solid defensively, mistakes were at a minimum.
However, long-term planning killed off Ferdinand's chances of nailing down a spot in the first team in the second half of the campaign. With Ferdinand out of contract, and Jake Cooper rising through the ranks, it was the academy graduate who was by default picked alongside captain Paul McShane.
Off the field, Ferdinand struck me as a very likeable, funny character to have in the squad. Not only would his experience have been vital for Jake Cooper's development, but his practical jokes were top notch (those of you who've seen his Snapchat stories will know what I'm talking about).
That said, although I'm sad to see him leave, it's probably not that surprising that things didn't work out for him. A mixture of injury troubles in 2014/15 and (presumably) quite high wages would suggest that a contract renewal wouldn't have been value for money from the club's point of view. With that in mind, he reminds me a lot of Wayne Bridge several seasons ago. A highly experienced free transfer who showed his quality, but wasn't a good enough option in the long run.
If you're reading this, Anton, best of luck for the future from all of us at The Tilehurst End, wherever your career may take you.