Reading fans - whether you wanted him gone, wanted him to stay or couldn’t give two monkeys either way, you owe Jose Gomes a lot of appreciation. When he was appointed in December 2018, as a relative nobody from Rio Ave in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, our club was at a level it hasn’t been at for a very long time.
There was no relationship between the fans and the club. Attendances were embarrassingly low, the performances on the pitch from the players were even worse and there was only one direction our club was heading in and that was down. Boos echoed around every stadium we played in after every game and the club was a toxic mess that was rotten from board level all the way down to the players.
And then, along came Jose.
From the get go he was a breath of fresh air. From that very first interview - that I remember I watched in a pub, maybe or maybe not after one too many alcoholic beverages - I immediately knew we had a bloke in charge who knew what he had to do.
He reconnected us back to our club. He gave us moments watching our team that we haven’t seen in an incredibly long time. Ipswich Town away, Wigan Athletic at home, Norwich City away - ridiculous scenes that would never have happened if he weren’t in charge, and scenes that Gomes celebrated just as much as we did in the stands.
He got me - and I’m sure, thousands of other Loyal Royals - excited and eager to go and watch my club play again. I used to dread going to see us under Paul Clement, but Gomes turned that completely upside down. I couldn’t wait to travel 100 odd miles each way every home game - whereas I found it as a bit of a chore under Clement.
On the last day of last season, the club even held ‘Portugal Day’ - used solely as a thank you to Gomes for everything he had done since his appointment. I can’t help but feel that football is turning - or maybe has even already turned - into a sport with a ridiculously short memory, as if you fast forward just five months, that same club has sacked that same manager.
I’d argue we haven’t lost just a ‘car salesman’ or a bloke who can talk the talk but not walk the walk (phrases that have been thrown at Gomes in recent times - reportedly even by his own players) - the club have sacked a man who truly cared for our club just as much as we do. Who knew what this club meant to the fans. Who had a relationship with the fans unlike any manager since McDermott (maybe even more so than him).
Finding loyalty and true compassion in a manager is very, very rare in football these days - but we found it in the form of Jose Gomes. I mean, the bloke even turned down a Champions League club to stick with us during the summer. And for that, Gomes deserves a huge amount of long-lasting respect from us fans.
Of course, whoever the club chooses as the next man to come in and take the reins at the Madejski could come in and really upturn the results and send us climbing up the table which, at the end of the day, is what everybody wants. But I just feel Jose didn’t get a fair shot at doing that himself - and that’s what doesn’t sit well with me.
Jose gave us so much, and the club repay him by sacking him after a mere 11 games. It stinks, it isn’t fair and it’s a decision that has just brought back all of that apathy and lack of hope that I had while Clement was sitting in the dugout every weekend.
Remember, Gomes was under a soft transfer embargo for a lot of the summer, had to work with a squad largely made up of academy players for most of pre-season and only completed his squad minutes before the transfer deadline. He hasn’t had enough time and, as far as I can see, that’s a fact.
“I believe in these players and this project. If I’m honest, I love Reading Football Club” once said the now departed Jose Gomes. Well, Jose, all I can say at this point is...
Muito obrigado por tudo que você fez por nós.
Thank you so much for everything you did for us.