It’s that time again: we want to know how good (or bad) a job you think Reading’s owners are doing. We last asked you this in November, not too long after they took the decision to sack Jose Gomes and replace him with Mark Bowen. At that point, you gave Dai Yongge and Xiu Li Dai the highest score we’ve ever had in our owner approval rating.
So what about now? On the pitch, things have been a tad disappointing; Reading made a huge improvement in late 2019 and early 2020, surging up the Championship, but have since tailed off a bit. Overall, the form under Bowen would suggest that the owners’ decision to appoint him was a good one.
Interestingly though, they went so far as to give him a new contract. Bowen had been due to depart at the end of this season, but he was rewarded with a new deal in mid-January. Progress under the Welshman on the pitch until that point had been very good, but was the timing of that deal right? Jordan Cottle outlined his reservations around that timing here.
In terms of transfers, things have been fairly quiet, with only two signings coming in in January: Felipe Araruna and Ayub Timbe. The former joined on a free transfer from Sao Paulo, while the latter agreed a loan stay until the end of the season from sister club Beijing Renhe. I explained in early February why I think those transfers (among other factors) point to an ever-more global outlook for the club.
The bigger issue in January though was over whether or not Reading would manage to bring in a new centre forward to boost a potential play-off push. Lucas Joao’s injury left the Royals without a proper target man, thereby throwing the team off its stride tactically, with none of George Puscas, Sam Baldock or Yakou Meite being like-for-like replacements.
However, Reading failed to get that striker, with moves for Connor Wickham and Pedro Mendes both falling through. Instead, the attitude from the club seemed to be more that they’d only bring in a striker if they were the right option - rather than signing someone for the sake of it.
On the flipside, there were no major exits in January; all key players stayed put, while a few youngsters moved on in search of first-team football elsewhere. Amid that, highly rated young goalkeeper Luke Southwood was persuaded to sign a new deal. You can recap all of that transfer business here.
The owners also reportedly appointed Brazilian Alexandre Mattos as Reading’s new director of football, although that fell apart shortly after we initially published this article. Mattos has a high profile in his home country, so his arrival would - at least on paper - have been a big statement of intent from the Dais. Kia Joorabchian was thought to be behind the move.
That appointment process dragged on for a while though, with Mattos’ visa proving tricky to be finalised. Non-footballing factors like coronavirus and Brexit were thought to have been involved.
NB: Mattos’ move was on at the time of publication, but off not long after.
Otherwise, ticket pricing remains good at the Mad Stad, with entry to the big FA Cup tie against Sheffield United costing just £10.
As ever, grade the owners from 1-5 in the poll below. If it doesn’t display on your device, go through this link.