After the departure of Jose Gomes last week, Reading moved fairly swiftly to secure a new manager for the team. The bookies (#Gambleaware) had at one point put Mark Hughes as favourite, but Reading moved to replace the Portuguese with Mark Bowen, who Charles Watts summed up perfectly below
Fair play to Mark Bowen.— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) October 14, 2019
Can’t think of many who could go to a club as an advisor, land the technical director gig, oversee a so far failed summer recruitment drive, sack a popular manger and then convince the owners to appoint himself all in the space of a few months. Skills! https://t.co/825ErwNTYz
The rest of the media band wagon quickly jumped on this, mostly picking up the fans response which Harry did here.
Around the other outlets and 90min.com went with ‘Reading Fans Lead Online Revolt’, showing loads of tweets in protest. They were also quick to point out that his “20 years of experience, 17 of which were in the Premier League” were all spent being a coach, and that this is therefore his first managerial position.
Football League World carry a similar message - they highlight the rallying call from Bowen and finish with a ‘Will Reading be relegated this season?’ poll. At time of writing 38% say yes! They also go on to point out that Gomes was a popular figure within the fanbase and this was one of the reasons why the Royals fans never called for his head on the terraces.
Even the national press have got in on it, with the Daily Mirror calling it a ‘Shock Appointment’ as, in their eyes, “he opted to appoint himself”. Ouch! They also carry a reaction from Nigel Howe, and go on to point out Bowen’s playing career and that he was Mark Hughes’ number two at various clubs.
It’s always worrying when your next opponents take a moment to scratch their collective heads and go “eh”? But that’s exactly what the Deepdale Digest have done. Preston North End come the to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and they call this a “rather strange move”, adding that “from being a key role in who the new boss is to taking the job himself, it’s a bold step”. They also are a little concerned about the “new manager bounce”. Hmm...
The Stoke Sentinel got in on the act with their lunchtime Q&A session, also mocking the Royals, saying that Bowen resisted bringing his “sidekick” in, taking the short cut and appointing himself. They are praying that the Reading fans’ fears are correct!
The reports from Sky Sports and the BBC are what you would expect from the main national outlets with neither condemning or jumping from the rooftops at Bowen’s appointment. Sky make a slight dig saying that the whole recruitment process brought criticism from Reading fans on social media, whereas the BBC remain their normal placid self with an incredibly vanilla report.
Locally, Berkshire Live carry a report saying that the Reading fans have given Bowen a “brutal welcome” after #BowenOut and #Bowen started trending on Twitter. Jonathan Low ran a lunchtime Q&A session with some interesting comments, especially around Kia Joorabcian’s link to Bowen. He also goes on to question the “One Reading” direction from the club as Nigel Howe, it appears, hasn’t spoken to the press officially...
The Birmingham Mail also have a dig at us, saying “Former Birmingham City assistant helps to sack manager of Championship rivals - then takes over”. Can it get any worse?
The Pinkun over at Norwich City run a similar report but they pick up two points - firstly that it was Dai Yongge’s decision last week and also that Bowen had a hard job “Staying away from the training ground” – is that another phrase for meddling?
There’s a number of ways to turn your club into a laughing stock, and Reading seem to have discovered the latest. The reaction from the fans has been incredible; I suppose that this is one way to unite the club, but probably not in the way that Howe wanted to.
A more worrying trend is looking at Reading’s managerial history over the last 20 years. Since 1999 we have had 10 coaches - two until 2009 but eight in the last decade.
Stability is a crucial element in building a successful team. Ok, so since 2009 we have had a promotion and also a trip to Wembley in a playoff final, so in reality those two trips should have seen our churn rate on managers drop, in essence they haven’t and modern day football is about results now.
Bowen has an unenviable task, and one which in reality if he does succeed in, given the starting position he has, potentially will make him the greatest manager we have had. Do I expect him to be successful? Sorry but I just can’t see it.
This season I started off my columns praying for mid-table obscurity. Being honest I am now praying that we are still in the Championship next May, as frankly the distinct lack of patience and decisions that are being made are quite simply absurd.
Gomes might not have had the results, but what he did have was a team full of potential and critically the support from the fans. Ok so this may have withered in November and December if results hadn’t changed, but I just don’t get chopping him now. I started this off by calling for stability but that, I am afraid, I am not expecting any time soon.
One thing is for sure though, it’s really not boring being a Reading FC fan!