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Stats Corner: Managerial Patience Is A Virtue

When it comes to bringing in a new manager, Nigel Howe is not one to be rushed.

Doncaster Rovers v Reading Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

By this point, I was expecting to be able to deliver my final Stats Corner of the year on our new manager and whack out the stat that Reading’s last three permanent gaffers have won their first game 1-0 at home. That, I presumed, would be a great omen for our match against Middlesbrough this weekend.

Instead, I’m left with little in the way of straws to clutch at in terms of this week’s column, but will plough on regardless - a bit like Scott Marshall as he prepares for Saturday. With only one thing on Reading fans’ minds: what’s taking the board so long to appoint a new manager?, I thought I’d dig into this a little more, and why we should have seen this period of uncertainty coming.

As we complete our second week of life with a caretaker boss, the daily rumours about different Portuguese managers we’ve never heard of make it seem as if it’s been an eternity in managerless purgatory. Many have criticised the lack of a plan from Nigel Howe after sacking Paul Clement, but when you scan down the list of appointments in the years he’s been Chief Executive of Reading FC, you’ll come to see this is the way it seems to have always been.

On only one occasion (when Howe has been involved in the recruitment process) since the appointment of Terry Bullivant in 1997 have Reading taken less than a week to find their new man with Howe. This was when it took just one day to replace Nigel Adkins with Steve Clarke in December 2014. It did take just 48 hours after sacking Jaap Stam to appoint Clement, but of course that appointment was courtesy of Ron Gourlay – not Howe.

Other than that, you’re looking at…

  • One week to appoint Tommy Burns in 1998.
  • 27 days between Alan Pardew’s stint as caretaker manager to his stay becoming permanent in the Autumn of 1999.
  • 30 days between Alan Pardew leaving for West Ham and Steve Coppell being appointed.
  • 23 days between Coppell resigning and Brendan Rodgers taking over.
  • Despite sacking Brendan Rodgers on December 16th, Brian McDermott wasn’t given the permanent job until over a month later, on January 27th – that’s 42 days!
  • When McDermott was sacked in March 2013, Eamonn Dolan took temporary charge for 15 days when Nigel Adkins finally succeeded on 26th March.
  • Jaap Stam signed up as manager 17 days after McDermott lost his job… again…
  • And at present you’re looking at a two-week running total that Marshall has been in temporary charge.
Manchester United v Reading - Premier League
The late Eamonn Dolan briefly took charge in early 2013
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

So, what does this tell us?

Well it comes to an average of 20 days for Reading FC to appoint new managers when Howe’s been part of the recruitment process. So, for all those panicking about the lack of decisiveness and leadership in the appointment of our new manager, then as history has shown, this isn’t out of the ordinary and shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the board don’t know what they’re doing.

Looking at the only three managers to take Reading to promotions in the list of managers above, they were appointed after an average of 30 days. Two of them, McDermott and Pardew, were appointed internally, so maybe Marshall could be considered a sure-fire bet after all?

I’m not trying to pretend that I’m not worried about who we turn to next and how long it’s taken. Like all Reading fans I really hope we’ve made an appointment by Saturday. However, as that’s now looking increasingly unlikely, hopefully reading this should ease some anxiety in the likelihood that the recruitment process continues on into the New Year.