With the 2016/17 season well underway, Reading are very much looking ahead to the rest of the campaign. And, apart from the obvious 'where will Reading finish', the fates of the club's out of contract contingent will also eventually come to the fore.
One member of that contingent, Danny Williams, has today spoken to the Reading Chronicle about his contract situation. Below, I've included a copy of some of his quotes, with my thoughts on their wider significance. For the full version of his thoughts, you can find them here.
On his soon-to-expire contract
“The problem is I don't really like to talk about it because there will always be speculation, especially when you are in the last year of your contract. There is always speculation about me leaving, but as far as I'm concerned I have a contract with Reading."
"At the moment we are not winning, and that's all I am focussed on. We will see about the rest, I have another year left with Reading.
We have had talks, obviously... but everything stays internal now."
It's interesting that Williams notes there always being speculation about him leaving. Over the last year or so, a number of Premier League and Championship sides have reportedly been interested in signing the American midfielder. And, according to these quotes, those rumours haven't gone unnoticed.
Obviously, I don't know Williams personally so I can't say this with any inner knowledge, but it's possible that such transfer speculation has unsettled Williams, at least to a degree. After all, links to the likes of Swansea, Newcastle United and others are very appealing when you're playing in an oft-struggling Reading side.
On Jaap Stam
“The atmosphere is amazing, everyone is getting on well. We all respect the gaffer because he has a big presence in the changing room."
"I have played under four different managers with Reading now, I've lost count really. Every manager is different but so far I admit Jaap Stam is doing an excellent job.
It's not easy after the last two seasons we have had which were frustrating for the fans and most of all for us players because we were not delivering on the pitch."
Again, emphasis mine.
Evidently, the lack of stability in the manager's dugout had an effect on the team, but that was pretty easy to guess anyway. This is almost certainly a classic case of reading too much into something, but I think that the way Williams frames these comments is telling.
Basically, he's emphasising the respect he has for Jaap Stam, whilst glossing over the Dutchman's predecessors. Vague phrases like "I've lost count really" and "every manager is different" suggest that Williams (and others?) weren't overly enamoured by Adkins, Clarke and McDermott.
Did the team have respect for the previous three managers? Probably, but poor results chip away at that. In contrast, the appointment of a world-famous former centre half has boosted dressing room morale in a way we thought was barely possible in some of the dark times we've seen over the last two seasons.
What do you make of Williams' comments? Is Bucks reading too much into things? Let us know in the comments.