The Reading Way is dead, long live the Dutch Revolution. Whatever that is.
One could be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t really a master plan behind the current set of Reading’s incomings and outgoings, more a wheeler-dealer mentality that comes from being a middle of the road club, in financial terms. Not poor enough to be a selling club, not rich enough to be a buying club.
And that’s fine. There is a good case to be made for ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ at the Madejski Stadium this summer.
Let’s first analyse where the Royals are definitely spending money. There are both medium and long-term investments on club infrastructure; the relaying of the pitch, the training ground, Royal Elm Park, to name but three such projects floating around right now. Some would call these long overdue.
The only problem with that is, well, they’re quite boring. When Middlesbrough are out throwing £15 million on a strikers with dodgy knees and Aston Villa continue to spaff Premier League wages on mercernaries, why can’t Reading just spent a teeny-weeny few million quid on a striker whose scored more than Cedric Baseya?
Reading fans are wise enough to know how important Yann Kermorgant’s very particular role was to the side last year, and combining that with the difficulty of said role suggests why it pays to avoid big names this summer. Assombalonga, Rhodes, even Matej Vydra, can boast great scoring records over one or two seasons but we all know there’s far more to playing in Jaap Stam’s system than poacher’s goals.
Furthermore, the leaps and bounds many still-young players made last year can continue. Looking at Liam Moore, John Swift, Tiago Ilori, Liam Kelly, and more, there’s plenty of room for improvement in already good Championship players.
We can even add in the returning injured players and loanees; Stephen Quinn, Callum Harriott, Jake Cooper, to satisfy that old cliche of players ‘feeling like a new signing’. To look further down the food chain, there are the academy players that may well step up, too.
This club tends to work best when acting with a cool head and underdog status, so a summer of evolution rather than revolution should suit us down to the ground after a play-off run and third place finish last time out.
Of course, two good players have left and there is little sign of bedazzling replacements, but that’s exactly how it was before 2011/12 when Shane Long and Matt Mills were replaced by a League Two striker and a wonky Latvian.
In those years where we test our luck, we tend to get lucky.