Granted, Mark Bowen was probably the most unpopular managerial appointment in recent Reading history. On the face of it, it looked like he had appointed himself as manager after being the one to sack Jose Gomes - due to his own previous role of sporting director. In all honesty, it was a moment where I - among many others - felt the connection between the fans and the club, which had taken so long to build back up, had been destroyed in a matter of minutes.
On Tuesday though, the Welshman cleared up those rumours by categorically denying any involvement in the departure of Gomes. Whether you believe him or not is completely down to your personal mindset, but I feel it would be very unfair to not believe Bowen. He actually came across very well in the press conference and doesn’t seem the cynical type to lie about something like that.
So with all of that (hopefully) behind us, all eyes need to be on Saturday afternoon as high-flyers Preston North End visit the Madejski Stadium. Let me say now, on behalf of the majority of the Reading fanbase I would hope, if you have any intention of coming to the ground on Saturday to boo, jeer or abuse Bowen and the team from the get go - then please stay at home.
We are fans of this club and, at the end of the day, everyone - Bowen, the players, the owners, us - wants the same thing, and that is to see Reading start climbing up the table again.
It’s been a very rocky road over the last few weeks, months and years even. There has been far too much instability, far too much chopping and changing and far too much wrongdoings going on behind the scenes - and the sacking of Gomes continued that instability in my opinion. But it’s done now - and we need to start focusing on the football.
I was just as frustrated, unconvinced and deflated at the appointment as the next Reading fan. But we’ve had a few days to settle down, Bowen has spoken to the media and cleared up any rumours that were flying around, and I’m now fully focused on getting to the stadium and backing the boys for 90 minutes - as should every other Reading fan.
No one wants to be in the position we’re in currently, and everybody wants us to move in the other direction. Just as Bowen said in his first interview after his appointment - he can’t do that without the support and the backing of the fans.
He knows the heat will be on him from the very start - it already is. Rightly so too, as a huge number of fans have very good reason to feel this isn’t the right appointment. I’m unconvinced and unsure about a career-long assistant manager making his first leap into management after being sporting director at the very same club - who wouldn’t be? But, I’m also ready and prepared to give the guy a chance to prove us all wrong - something I really, really hope he does, because if he doesn’t there is only one way this club is going.
Remember how important our support was towards the end of last season? How united the club felt? How strong the connection was between us as supporters and the players on the pitch? Yes, a huge part of all those things has now left the club. But there is no reason why we can’t feel that way again.
We have to play our part by getting behind the players, the club and Mark Bowen as our manager. If we do our job, and the results continue the way they have been, then that lies on the head of the players and Bowen. But at least if we do back them from day one, starting Saturday, there is a chance that we can build again and start climbing up the table. However, If we begin Bowen’s era as manager by immediately jeering and booing the team then there’s absolutely no chance of that happening.
We cannot control what the future holds - that was proven more than ever when Gomes, who was so popular with the fanbase, was sacked last week. We can only control how and if we back the team. So let’s make the right decision - and who knows what could happen.