To many, Jose Gomes’ appointment came as a very uninspiring one, with his lack of experience in England causing doubt in most Reading fans’ heads - an immediate effect was needed after Paul Clement’s sacking. But how he’s proved us wrong.
A Portuguese man with little reputation over here in Berkshire, but now is turning into the man we’ve always wanted and missed so badly for so many years. Jose Gomes has brought the feel-good factor back to Reading with his passion and evident love for the club, echoed by players he’s only been working with for a matter of four or so months.
On the pitch he’s brought results, with the team starting to make the Madejski Stadium a fortress again - similar to the play-off season under Jaap Stam, but this time with an exciting brand of football that is getting the fans off their seats again. But also, off the pitch, fans are feeling a love towards the manager and players, and they’re now looking forward to coming to watch this young and exciting team instead of Saturdays being clouded over with the doom and gloom of losses on a regular basis over the last season.
Below is how, in my opinion, Jose Gomes has turned things around for Reading.
The January transfer window
Shortly after Jose’s arrival, he was greeted by the welcome opening of the transfer window. To say that the business he got over the line during that time was nothing but incredible wouldn’t be an understatement looking at how these players have boosted our chance of survival.
The thing that struck me about the signings he brought in was how much these players must have believed in his philosophy and principles because, looking at the Championship table at that point, it wasn’t an encouraging factor for a player to join Reading with us sitting in the relegation zone.
However, Jose managed to secure the help of Ovie Ejaria, Lewis Baker, Matt Miazga, Nelson Oliveira and Emiliano Martinez - all players with quality that would boost our survival hopes. One thing that stuck out was that Reading had been linked with Nelson Oliveira and Lewis Baker season after season, but somehow Jose Gomes came in and immediately got them in instead of the usual rumours that come to nothing - impressive regarding the way we were playing at that time.
He also uncovered a more hidden gem in Matt Miazga who, alongside Liam Moore, has formed a rock solid centre back partnership. Emiliano Martinez, a Premier League quality goalkeeper, has given the whole team confidence and been a consistent contender for man of the match with his key saves which really have made a difference. But this was only the start for the effect Jose would have at the club.
The Portuguese persona
Jose Gomes comes across as not just a normal football manager in terms of tactics and his man management of the team, but overall he just seems like a great guy. In every post-match interview he talks as if the players are his family and shows evident care towards them. Plus, he never fails to mention the fans, building that ever-growing connection between the two parties.
Alongside him on the touch line, he’s brought his backroom staff who are just as passionate as him. To witness this, all you have to see is a decision going against us and they’ll be sprinting to the touch line in frustration. They barely ever sit down and seem to play every pass with the players - the raw passion seen in the celebrations is a thing us Reading fans will never get tired of.
In addition to this, Gomes seems to have a strong relationship with the people above him at the club, which can only be a positive for us as fans. Without fail he always makes time to clap the fans after the games, and you really get the feeling he loves this club as much as we do. The Wigan game at home was a perfect example as he was parading around the pitch, punching the air in front of every stand in the stadium.
It really felt to me, and I’m guessing most fans alongside me too, that this guy really gets what it means to be at Reading.
To be honest, I think the players bounce off this, with the passion and determination starting to become evident on the pitch every game. It’s like the players want to not only win for the badge but also for the manager. And no disrespect to Paul Clement, but he never seemed to have this personality that rubbed off on the players and the fans weren’t filled with confidence with what he was saying - but now, for me, I believe every word Jose says and believe it will actually happen.
The style of play
Jose Gomes has brought in a style of play that is clear for everyone to see. He wants to build out from the back and keep the ball, but also get the ball forward as fast as possible to create goal-scoring scenarios and get fans off their feet.
Compare that to when Paul Clement was in charge, where he didn’t really have a style of play or tactic you could pick out every game - but Gomes has largely stuck to how he wants to play and over the months he’s been in charge you can see the improvement of how the players are acting on it on the pitch.
Another impressive thing about the manager is that he also isn’t afraid to change his ways, as we saw against Norwich City where he recognised the strengths of the opposition and adapted the tactics and formation. For 85 minutes, we were holding a lead against a team at the top of the table, and then even more impressively the players didn’t give up and fought to the end and managed to grab an important point.
That’s another trait I think Gomes has installed in the players about fighting until the last whistle, and as fans that’s all we want to see. You can also tell that he knows his strongest team, and his lineup (for the most part) is consistent - he knows what he wants out of every part of the pitch and the players he signed possess the qualities to play in a system in how he wants to play.
Jose Gomes has really brought the feel-good factor back to Berkshire and I’m sure Reading fans will be hoping he sticks around for a while yet. After a full pre-season with this current team, integration of more youngsters into the first team and another transfer window for the club to do business, things can only get better.
That’ll bring more positivity to the fans and, hopefully, next season will be one to remember for all the right reasons and we’ll be on the flip side of that table.
We’ve got Jose Gomes!