Judging by social media at least (not always a wise thing...), there’s little to no consensus over what kind of manager Reading Football Club needs - wise head, dynamic youngster, or something else entirely. That ongoing debate has, strangely, taken the pressure off the team itself - and the current actual manager: Scott Marshall.
The club’s poor forward-planning means the under-23 manager will again take charge of the first team for Saturday’s trip to Rotherham United. No immediate successor was lined up for Paul Clement, so here we are, stuck in the middle with Scott. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
With the focus now largely on who’ll be brought in as manager to save Reading’s season, little media or fan scrutiny is going Marshall’s way. That’s not surprising - big names are being thrown around as candidates for the job, and any problems with this team aren’t the under-23 boss’ fault.
Saturday’s match against Sheffield United was a good case in point. Although Reading put in a predictably limp performance (especially in the second-half - a recognisable trait of Clement’s side), no-one would seriously pin that on Marshall.
I’d even argue that Marshall did well in introducing some new ideas to the team, although they were only evident in the first-half. For the opening 45 minutes, Reading looked noticeably more proactive going forwards, getting up the pitch quicker and using their wide options to cause the Blades problems.
Those tweaks didn’t result in a goal - or even a shot on target - but again, that’s not Marshall’s fault. Not to mention that Reading were missing their two top-scorers in Yakou Meite and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, denying the side a focal point and aerial presence in the final third.
Considering Marshall managed that attacking adjustment with barely two days’ preparation time, I’m intrigued to know what he’ll cook up for the trip to Yorkshire. Nothing revolutionary for sure, but hopefully some positive changes to which the players respond well. Garath McCleary, who seemed to benefit in the Sheffield United match from the more direct, wing-based style, suggested this week that that’s already taking place.
In the end, Reading will almost certainly want a more experienced manager than Marshall to take charge in the long run. But for the short term, giving him a chance at sorting the team out and injecting some new ideas - and seeing what effect that all has - could be a gamble worth taking.
He’s already got an understanding with the players, has a knowledge of the specific problems behind-the-scenes, and is arguably the best-placed candidate for bringing through Reading’s young talent.
Let’s give him a few matches at the helm and see how it works out.