Reading don’t seem to know who their next manager will be, so we’ve decided to give them a helping hand. Five of our writers have picked out the candidate they think should succeed Jose Gomes and made their case.
Olly Allen - Clarence Seedorf
Last team: Cameroon (left in July 2019)
I am firmly of the belief that Jose Gomes should have been given more time, but if there is one argument that convinces me otherwise, it’s that he ‘lost the dressing room’. That’s really the point of no return. The same could be said of Paul Clement, who also appeared to struggle to get the squad onside.
In contrast, Jaap Stam, despite his tactical failures, was hugely respected by Reading’s players, with many claiming he was the best manager they have worked under. Stam of course had a stellar career that earned him that respect, whereas Clement and Gomes did not. In that regard, Clarence Seedorf fits the bill. The 43-year-old played for some of the world’s best clubs in his playing career, winning four Champions Leagues and five league titles in addition to 87 international caps.
It’s fair to say that Seedorf’s managerial career, that has seen him take charge of AC Milan, Shenzen, Deportivo La Coruna and the Cameroon national team, has not gone to plan so far, but there have arguably been unfavourable circumstances in all those jobs that have all lasted less than a year.
Unlike Stam, the Dutchman is not set on copying on the Ajax way. In an interview with Sky Sports last year, he emphasised how being pragmatic with the ball and solid without it was just as important as forward thinking.
Simeon Pickup - Cesare Prandelli
Last team: Genoa (left in June 2019)
I should start this off by noting that the recent chatter around Cesare Prandelli potentially being Reading’s next manager started after I asked SkyBet for the odds on Twitter. That request put Prandelli onto their shortlist and thus kicked off speculation that he could be set for Berkshire. I have no solid reason to believe he’s in discussions at the moment - although Reading were reportedly set to make him Paul Clement’s replacement before Gianluca Nani left last year.
However, he should be a real contender this time round.
Judging by the lack of patience shown towards Jose Gomes, sacking him fewer than a dozen games into the season after a free-spending summer, it’s clear that Dai Yongge wants an established coach with the know-how to turn things around quickly. At the age of 62, and with 25 years of managerial experience under his belt, Prandelli certainly doesn’t lack experience.
That’s come almost exclusively in Italy, where he’s had success both at lower and higher levels. He got Hellas Verona promoted to and then established in Serie A at the end of the 1990s, transformed Fiorentina between 2005 and 2010, and rebuilt the national side after an embarrassing group-stage exit from the World Cup in 2010.
That spell in particular included various qualities which would stand him in good stead for the challenge at Reading. As a profile on him in The Guardian noted, he plays attacking football (but is tactically flexible), uses young players, clamps down hard on ill-disciplined players and shows the “love” needed to get the most out of a misfiring striker.
Italian football pundit Richard Hughes, who played under Prandelli at Atalanta, has been gushing in his praise:
“He is an outstanding manager who has a fantastic manner about him. He is an articulate, calm person with a good demeanour. You listen when he speaks because what he says is important. Tactically, he’s out of this world. I only played under him for a couple of years but he taught me everything I know about the game tactically.
“I played in several positions under him and he was good at teaching people how to develop and play in a cohesive manner, a crucial aspect at international level. Individuals come in from different clubs and you have to create a team very quickly and he’s the perfect man for that. His versatility and ability to harness a team from a group of individuals gives Italy every chance in this tournament.”
He’s got the experience needed to turn Reading around, and his impressive CV would immediately win respect from fans and players alike. Even better, he’s got a great dress sense. Make it happen, Dai Yongge.
Dan Wimbush - Brian McDermott
Last team: Reading (left in May 2016)
First, I don’t expect this to happen, but this is my choice anyway.
A lot of Reading fans didn’t want Brian McDermott back in 2015 and his lacklustre spring certainly didn’t win many doubters over. However, consider that McDermott is the only Reading manager since the introduction of transfer windows to not have had at least one summer window.
All he got was one single January where, with his squad already at seven loans, he brought in Yann Kermorgant, George Evans and Deniss Rakels for a combined £800k, all while having to sell his top goalscorer Nick Blackman for £3 million.
From the start of January, McDermott oversaw a period where we lost just two in 14 and reached the FA Cup quarter-finals for only the fifth time in our history (he’s got three of them by the way).
Yes, after the Crystal Palace cup defeat the wheels fell off. A squad bloated by loanees and expensive contracts all but downed tools with nothing to play for and the end of the campaign was miserable. McDermott clearly had the next season in mind, ditching loanees and giving chances to the likes of a teenage Josh Barrett.
McDermott would front up in typically honest fashion at the fans forum that May. It was clear he knew there was a rotten core and wanted to get the club back to basics after years of misguided recruitment and ownership. Sadly he would never get the chance. Tiger’s assumption of power that March and partnership with Brian Tevreden saw the plan to appoint Jaap Stam put in motion and McDermott was done for. A legend at our football club ditched within six months.
So why bring him back?
He knows what needs to be done. He knows how to be pragmatic and he’s prepared to put his trust in young players who’ve come through the academy. If anybody knows ‘The Reading way’, it’s McDermott and if you think he can’t play good football when he’s got the right players, just watch some of the football in the spring of 2010 when we smashed the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Preston North End and Peterborough, and went from the relegation zone to ninth in a few short months.
Give this man 18 months and he’ll give the fans something they can really invest in. Is that possible in 2019? Perhaps not, but it’s my pick and I’d back him 100% if given the chance.
Harry Chafer - Eusebio Di Francesco
Last team: Sampdoria (left in October 2019)
You’ll probably be aware that, since the news broke regarding Gomes’ sacking last Wednesday, the names that have been mentioned as his possible successor haven’t exactly filled anyone with excitement or confidence really. Obviously, rumours are rumours for a reason and we should really take the vast majority of them with a pinch of salt, but it’s still been pretty depressing reading some of the names who could be coming in.
However, in the last day or so, the name Eusebio Di Francesco has made its way onto the scene. Having recently taken Roma to the Champions League semi-final, before being sacked by Sampdoria recently, he would be a huge coup for Reading and, as they say, there’s no smoke without fire.
He is a fiery character, so would be more than able to sort out the rumoured dressing room behaviour that may have played a part in Gomes getting the boot. Furthermore he is an attack-minded manager, which is an approach that would suit our current crop of players much more than that of a Chris Hughton or Mark Hughes.
Becki White - Gary Rowett
Last team: Stoke City (left in January 2019)
I wouldn’t mind seeing former Stoke City, Derby County and Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett have a go at the Madejski Stadium. His last job at Stoke may not have gone to plan, but he’s certainly had a few successful spells at other clubs.
The way Rowett turned the tables round at Birmingham during the 2014/15 season was impressive. The Blues went from almost relegation certainty to safe, solid mid-table by May - something I’m dreaming of for Reading right now. Guiding Derby to the play-offs in 2018 also can’t be ignored.
We need a manager with good Championship experience on a smaller budget, who can inspire, motivate and galvanise a team shot of confidence. I feel Rowett would be able to squeeze out the best of our squad and I would definitely be happy to see him take the reigns.