Reading manager Mark Bowen has extended his contract at the club until the summer 2021, alongside his coaching team of Eddie Niedzwiecki (assistant manager) and John O’Shea (first team coach).
The 56-year-old was originally appointed on a deal until the end of the season when he replaced Jose Gomes in October, but a fantastic start to life in the Mad Stad dugout has prompted those behind the scenes to tie him down for longer.
Bowen was hit with huge criticism and scrutiny from supporters when he first took charge, with many doubting the ability of a man who had appeared to ‘appoint himself’ having never taken on a head coach role before.
However the Welshman dispelled that myth and set about proving the doubters wrong straight away, picking up an impressive ten points from his first four games in charge. At the time of the writing, the Royals are on a ten-match unbeaten run in all competitions, having not lost since the start of December. From 17 games so far, Bowen’s win percentage stands at 53% - the best in the club’s history.
The play-offs are now very much in the club’s sights, with six points separating Reading in 14th and Sheffield Wednesday in sixth, whilst the Royals have a game in hand to be played next Wednesday against Nottingham Forest. Cast your minds back to when Bowen had just been appointed, and the picture was very different, as the team sat in 22nd position after failing to win in Gomes’s final six games.
Having spent most of his coaching career as assistant to compatriot Mark Hughes, Bowen joined Reading as a technical consultant back in March before making the step up to sporting director in the summer. He then became the club’s fourth manager in 19 months when he was appointed in October.
Chief Executive Nigel Howe commented:
“A manager with a very clear understanding of what it takes to win football matches in this division, Mark has managed to galvanise this group of players and instil fight, determination and desire into the dressing room which has had an instant impact on performances and our points tally.
“Mark would be the first to modestly highlight that this has been a good start…but only that; there is much more to achieve with this group of players. But I am delighted that, in a very short period of time as manager, he has proven himself a very clever, conscientious and capable manager and he fully deserves this new contract at the club.”