It might seem a little odd to talk about Reading making late signings when three of them came by June 6, but that still seems to be where we’re at. The Royals’ additions so far: Andy Yiadom (May 17), David Meyler (June 5) and John O’Shea (June 6), with Marc McNulty coming in through the door exactly a month after O’Shea.
That last addition certainly felt like it took ages. Reading’s need for attacking reinforcements (at least one striker, plus some creativity in midfield) has been blazingly obvious since neither Nelson Oliveira nor Jordan Hugill nor Tomer Hemed nor anyone else joined at the end of August 2017. Paul Clement doesn’t disagree, and has gone on record saying that a forward or two is on his shopping list.
What he also said, as early as the end of May, is that those transfers can take time. A trio on frees is one thing, but it’s more complicated to finalise a move that involves a fee. Friday’s signing of Marc McNulty is a good case in point - the £1.2m to £1.5m bid that eventually got us our man was (reportedly) the fourth offer that had been sent Coventry City’s way.
The player himself hinted negotiations had taken a while, telling the club in his first interview as a Royal:
“It’s very exciting to finally be here. Things have been rumbling on for a couple of weeks, but to finally be here and get things done is brilliant.”
So my question is this:
Why the impatience over how long Reading’s signings are taking?
If you’d gone on social media in the days and weeks before McNulty came in, you’d have seen a lot of frustration from Reading fans. Why aren’t we signing anyone? Get on with it! And so on.
To a large extent that’s entirely understandable. Last season was terrible, we all want 2018/19 to be better and new arrivals will be a big part of that. What’s more, the club should know that too, so the apparent delay in getting the big bits of Reading’s transfer business done seems odd.
For me, that interpretation misses the point and ignores the elephant in the room: how much money we have to spend. I’d gone into this transfer window assuming that we would have a good amount of cash to throw around based on last season’s summer spend and Ron Gourlay hinting at a big budget. Although that might still be true, what we’ve seen so far suggests that there’s no huge warchest lying around at the Madejski Stadium.
Is that a ‘bad thing’ necessarily? After all, this club tends to do better when it’s thrifty in the market - hungry players with a point to prove at Reading, rather than big-money mercenaries after another payday.
On a completely unrelated note, you’ll be interested to know that Royston Drenthe is now out of retirement.
Regardless of the pros and cons of that approach, and whether or not Reading are even taking it at the moment (they may surprise us with a £10million bid for Shane Long - stranger things have happened...) long, drawn-out transfers appear to now be an unavoidable reality for the club.
In an ideal world, or perhaps just a less stressful one, Clement would have been given free use of the chequebook to splurge on some expensive signings within the first few weeks of the window. James Maddison for £20million? Done. Britt Assombalonga for £15million? Already agreed.
That’s not the world in which we live, so we’ll have to put up with the same summer frustrations we always have, and it’ll probably mean a long wait before bringing in another striker - if one comes in at all.
Now you’ve read this, here’s why Marc McNulty is the right kind of addition for Reading: