Reading Football Club are entering a summer of uncertainty but the focus of fans’ fear shouldn’t be on losing manager Jose Gomes.
The occasional piece of speculation that the Portuguese tactician is entering the minds of rival clubs shouldn’t be dismissed, but an imminent exit appears unlikely. The most prominent report claimed an unnamed Premier League club are keen but the only team with current doubts over their dugout is Newcastle United, who it would be a huge surprise if they plucked a relative unknown from the second tier.
Gomes himself told TTE last season that managing in England has been his dream for a long time, and I’m inclined to believe him on that. Make it here (or more specifically the Premier League) and you can manage anywhere in the world. So, only the biggest European sides will pose a threat and the same rule applies - he’s not at that level yet.
There was even a sense of “uh oh” in the news that he wants to eventually reach a top-four club, a warning we should perhaps take more seriously given Brendan Rodgers’ rise from Reading rejectee to title challenger.
But, the fact of the matter with Gomes is that he has another year on his contract and he’s yet to complete a full season in English football. He still represents a huge risk. That’s also the case for the only other type of team who could theoretically poach him: the richer Championship club. Maybe West Brom, Middlesbrough or a Lampard-less Derby will want a technically minded European manager, but even then he’s hardly the only one around.
Finally, there is whether Reading should worry about life after Gomes. It is ridiculous to say he hasn’t had any effect, as the new boss has helped revitalise the fanbase, brought in new academy prospects, taken the right approach with cutting the squad, and kept us in the division. But he didn’t do it single-handedly.
I’m not too sure we would have stayed up with two games to spare - or at all - without the loanees signed in January. That kudos surely goes to CEO Nigel Howe. And while Paul Clement would have struggled to get any better results out of that team, there’s no saying a different arrival wouldn’t have matched Gomes’ points tally.
Reading fans have plenty to look forward to under the current manager. He has a good grasp on the current squad and has a reasonable degree of momentum to carry us into a summer dominated by sales over signings. But he is also ambitious and knows what he wants out of life. One day, we might find ourselves in the way of that - just not yet.