Reading got back to pre-season duties on Monday by returning to training at Hogwood Park. The squad have had a few weeks off since the end of the last campaign to recharge mentally and physically, but now the focus turns back to footballing issues. It’s also given Paul Clement a chance to have his say on the team’s transfer business so far, which he did in his first general interview with the club’s official media since the end of last season.
That business to date includes the arrivals of right back Andy Yiadom, midfielder David Meyler and centre half John O’Shea and departures for a host of released players such as Joseph Mendes, Stephen Quinn, Sandro Wieser and others. However, those early acquisitions didn’t address the lack of creativity or firepower.
He praised the new signings, saying:
“[They’re] good players, all with experience in positions that I felt that we also needed. All on free contracts, so that’s why that business got done very, very early on.”
Although it’s doubtful how well O’Shea for one will turn out, it’s still good to see the club acting decisively to sort their targets out rather than faffing about for a few weeks. Clement continued:
“Now we’re moving into other areas where it’s a little bit more difficult but we’re confident we can bring some good attacking players in in the next days and weeks.”
Reading have been linked with a few forwards since the window started. You can see the full list on our rumour tracker, but some of the more notable names are Peterborough’s Marcus Maddison (read more here) and Nottingham Forest’s Barrie McKay. However, there’s been little movement on any of those targets, with Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony even suggesting that the Royals’ interest in Maddison had cooled.
To be fair, Clement had previously stated that forward players might not arrive until the end of the window, but it’s still frustrating that we’ve not had anything to get excited about. His comments on Monday hint that we may not have to put up with those frustrations for much longer.
Being more specific about the qualities that he looks for in transfer targets, he said:
“We’re trying to bring in players that have got good all-round ability, so physically can cope with the demands of the Championship. If they’ve got in their CV that they’ve experienced this level of football or even the level above, or been involved in a team that’s been promoted, they’re all added benefits.
Although that sounds pretty generic, it’s interesting to look at the two main points of focus: fitness and experience of English football (presumably, seeing he refers to “this level of football or even the level above”). Clement could have been more vague, but those two things both refer to problems that Reading have had in the last few years, and suggests that this summer’s transfer policy has been specifically designed in response.
For example - it’s all well and good finding a talented player from outside the United Kingdom, but if their fitness isn’t great and they don’t know what it takes to succeed in the Championship, they ain’t coming to Berkshire.
See: Adrian Popa, Orlando Sa, Paolo Hurtado and Reading’s transfer policy 2014-17 in general. For a general look at all that, click here.
Say what you like about Andy Yiadom, David Meyler and John O’Shea, but those two problems above don’t apply to them. They’ve all spent pretty much the entirety of their careers in the British Isles (O’Shea’s loan spell at Royal Antwerp the exception), and played pretty regularly last season: 32 league appearances for Yiadom, 25 for Meyler and 37 for O’Shea (despite him being 37, aptly).
It remains to be seen how much future signings adhere to this apparent new policy - will we only see additions from the Championship and Premier League, or will Reading dip their proverbial toe into the European market once more? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, you can watch Clement’s full interview here: