It's certainly fair to say that Reading Football Club is going through a period of transition at the moment. With the departures of the likes of Brian McDermott, Nicky Hammond and Ian Wood-Smith in recent weeks, the 'old' Reading appears to be on the way out.
The Ajax is strong with this one
However, judging by an article published on the Thai site the Daily News a few days ago, there is a coherent strategy coming in at the club. Talking before the reported deal to appoint Jaap Stam that emerged late last night, shareholder Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth confirmed that Stam had indeed been in talks to succeed McDermott. More interestingly however, he strongly hinted that choosing a former Ajax coach was a deliberate move.
Ajax of course are globally famous for their academy, and their promotion of youth in general. That's an element which 'Tiger' wants to emulate in Berkshire, albeit on a greater level than we have done before. To that end, Brian Tevreden was also brought in as Reading's new Technical Director several weeks ago. It's no coincidence that the Royals' backroom staff is increasingly being made up of those who are willing to blood youth in the first team.
Elements of Leicester City
Besides mentioning Ajax, 'Tiger' also told the Daily News that Leicester's model of recruitment is one that Reading are looking to copy. Rather than tracking more well-known players, the Royals will focus their attention on finding obscure, but talented, players. The original article specifically namechecks N'Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez as examples of such talents.
We've certainly seen plenty of that process already. The likes of Orlando Sa, Paolo Hurtado, Deniss Rakels and Danzell Gravenberch have all arrived in the last summer, albeit to differing success. Both in terms of transfer fee and wages, those players can all be considered to be pretty cheap gambles.
'Tiger' also mentioned that the Royals want to bring in half-Thais to the club. We've already seen the likes of Mika Chunuonsee (half-Welsh, half-Thai) linked with Reading, and the half-British Tommy Stevens will go into the academy for next season.
What does all of this mean for Reading?
Looking at social media, to my mind at least, a lot of fans seem to be highly suspicious of our current owners. The Thais are apparently driven by making money out of Royal Elm Park, with improving the football club a secondary thought.
It's not a conclusion that I buy into.
When you look at comments like the ones above from 'Tiger', it's clear that there is a long-term strategy for making Reading competitive at a high level, whilst doing so at a sustainable cost. The Royals' academy has been very good for a while now, but could use extra support to take it to the next level.
Plus, as we've seen from Leicester City, a good scouting network can pay massive dividends. The Foxes' outlay on Kante, Mahrez and Vardy were pretty modest, especially when you consider that the trio could very well move on this summer for a combined sum of at least £75m.
The buzzword in all of this is 'sustainability'. Reading have never been able to outbid other teams for star players, and won't be able to do so now. In place of that, having a long-term plan that delivers potentially very good players - and at a low cost - is very wise.
Of course, all of this is just my opinion. But what do YOU think? Leave us a comment below.
The original article from the Daily News, which you can find here, was translated with the help of a native Thai speaker.