- Position: Striker
- Nationality: French
- Total appearances: 31
- Reading goals: 5
I maintain to this day that Mathieu ‘BEAST’ Manset could have been a decent player for Reading had he been granted more time to develop. Ultimately, the arrival mid-way through the 2011/12 season of Anton Zingarevich, Jason Roberts and eventually Premier League football put an end to his chances in Berkshire. However, for a brief, shining moment, the towering Frenchman looked like becoming the Royals’ new attacking talisman.
First, let’s have a quick recap. The Metz-born frontman signed from the now-non-existent Hereford United in January 2011, scoring his first goal in a 2-2 draw at Cardiff City, and pulling off some “unbelievable tekkers” against QPR as this dodgy YouTube video handily demonstrates.
Reading of course didn’t go up that season (damn you, Swansea City), and leading frontman Shane Long was about to depart for pastures new. In fact, the Manset memory below coincided with the Irishman’s only game for the Royals in the 2011/12 season, and his last in the blue and white hoops.
In short, one of the greatest braces we’ve seen ever at the Madejski Stadium. The team’s first competitive match after the play-off defeat to Swansea saw a side Millwall side containing James Henry and Darius Henderson come to town. Typically, Henry set Henderson up to score against Reading - something he’d done twice for Sheffield United in a 3-2 win for the Blades the previous season.
John Marquis’ goal to make it 2-0 meant that Reading had a mountain to climb but, in Mathieu Manset, they had a mountain of their own.
On the 86th minute, the Frenchman brushed off a defender near the halfway line, charged down the right wing, cut inside onto his left foot and let off a rocket of a shot that flew into the top corner.
A few minutes later, it was 2-2. Again on the right wing, Andy Griffin laid the ball off for Jimmy Kebe who whipped a cross into the six yard area - Manset found space and headed home with ease, a beautifully simple goal.
What’s happened since?
Those two goals would prove to be 40% of his entire return for Reading - his only other contribution in 2011/12 being a late winner at Bristol City that is worth a ‘memorable moment’ article in its own right.
With game time hard to come by, he ended up on loan at Shanghai Shenhua when he scored one goal. As it happens, that came against Guizhou Renhe, a team that would later be owned by one Dai Yongge. It’s a small world.
He quit Reading permanently at the end of that same season, moving to Sion in Switzerland before turning out for Carlisle United, Coventry City, Royal Antwerp, Walsall, Cheltenham Town, Slavia Sofia, Consolat Marseille, Hamrun Spartans (Malta) and current club SC Bastia (Corsica).
To this day, the ~£500,000 that Reading paid Hereford is the only transfer fee that has ever been exchanged between clubs for Manset. He’s also yet to beat his Reading five goal haul at any subsequent club.