For the very first time, Manager Quotes features one Paul Clement. The former Swansea City and Derby County boss was appointed as Reading manager on Friday lunchtime, agreeing a three year deal.
Coming into his new post, he has eight games in which to save the club’s Championship status. Predecessor Jaap Stam left him with the inheritance of one win in 18 games - putting the team three points above the bottom three - so Clement certainly has a big challenge ahead of him.
“I’m fully confident that this club is going to be in the Championship, actually I have no doubt that we will be.
“We’ve got eight games to go, we’re going to win a good amount of those and we’re going to be playing in the Championship next year.”
Clement also stressed the need for the team to be well-prepared for the visit of Queens Park Rangers on Good Friday. The international break gives the Englishman a bigger opportunity to get his players ready than he could have had, and Clement won’t be wasting any time.
”I’ve got four good training days with the players and will meet the backroom staff in the next 24 hours so we’re giving ourselves a good chance and we’ll be well prepared for Friday night.
”The objective is to work with the players I’ve got - not to think overly about the opposition.
”I’ll look more at the Reading squad and say - it’s a team which underachieved this season and now we need to get them playing to their potential. If we do that we’ll be competitive against anybody.”
Although he reaffirmed the need to keep Reading in the second tier in the short term, Clement accepted that the aim is to get the team back into the Premier League.
“99 per cent of my concentration is on the next eight games. The other one per cent of my focus is taking the club forward and into the top league.
”We’re not sure how long that is going to take. It’s a big test. There are a lot of other really good clubs that want to go to the Premier League. But we believe we have the infrastructure in place to do that.“We’re moving to a new training ground in the imminent future and these are all things that will attract good players.
”We want to build on the squad, improve them but the focus has to be on the next eight games.”
On a personal level, he admitted that he’d like to settle down at one club - having not lasted a year at either Derby County or Swansea City.
“I really hope I can find a club I can be with for the foreseeable future.”
“And the medium and long term stuff I will be thinking about in the summer.”
Reading fans love talking about the club’s youth, so it was no surprise to see that topic rear its head in the press conference. Clement hinted that he’d be happy to give opportunities to the Royals’ young prospects, but understandably included the proviso that second tier survival takes priority.
“If they’re good enough then they’re going to get opportunities. I’ve always viewed it like that. I have a lot of experience working in youth football.
”I understand the importance of giving youth the opportunity at this club.
”I know it’s a tradition for this club to give the youth opportunity but the most important thing at the moment is results.”
What can we learn from Clement’s comments?
Press conferences - particularly a manager’s first in charge of a club - are typically, understandably full of generic answers (‘we need to be a good team that wins games’), but the tone of Clement’s answers and his emphasis on certain points is interesting. He’s very comfortable talking about the club’s recent history and stature - after all, he’s gone up against Reading as a youth coach with Chelsea, and as manager of Derby County and Swansea City.
“Reading for me has always been a club that’s had a very good reputation of being very competitive at both first team level in the Championship and the Premier League and in bringing young players through the Academy.”
Sure, he’s not worked at the club before so is understandably no expert on all things Royal, but it’s refreshing to see a gaffer come in who’s at ease with the club’s modern identity. Jaap Stam never seemed to properly fit with that, so hopefully Clement will quickly slot in, feel at home and be accepted by the fans.