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The Wrong Serb: Report Suggests Veljko Paunović Is The New Favourite For Reading FC Job

It’s been a hectic 24 hours.

SOCCER: SEP 22 MLS - Chicago Fire at New England Revolution Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You know that Serbian coach that used to play for Partizan Belgrade and manage the Serbian youth teams that Reading were going to appoint as their new manager? Forget about him. The Royals are in fact appointing a Serbian coach that used to play for Partizan Belgrade and manage the Serbian youth teams. Err, hang on...

Yes, it seems that yesterday we all got the wrong Serb as Aleksandar Stanojević will not be the new man in the Madejski Stadium hotseat. It may in fact be his compatriot Veljko Paunović. As with everything over the last couple of days, this has all happened relatively quickly, so it’s worth a quick recap.

Less than 48 hours ago (Monday 24), it was confirmed that Nigel Howe would be leaving his role as Reading’s Chief Executive and returning to the position of vice-chairman. The unknown Dayong Pang, a close associate of Dai Yongge’s and board member at KSV Roeselare, was announced as his replacement. So far, so surprising, but relatively straightforward.

But no sooner had Howe cleared his desk, and rumours began to surface that Mark Bowen’s job as manager was also in danger. Yet he would not be leaving the Madejski Stadium completely, instead returning to the Director of Football role he held last year before taking over from Jose Gomes in the dugout in October.

Thoughts, and reports, then moved on to who Bowen’s successor would be. At the end of play yesterday (Tuesday 25), it was widely expected that Aleksandar Stanojević would be announced as the new Reading boss today (Wednesday 26), following suggestions from journalists at both local and national level. The former manager of Dai Yongge’s Chinese club Beijing Renhe, the 46-year-old had reportedly held held talks over the phone to take over in Berkshire and the players were set to meet him by jetting out to Portugal after playing Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.

However, early this morning, BerkshireLive’s Jonathan Low announced that Stan was not the man. There’s no indication yet about why the deal has been called off, or even if there was any deal in the first place.

Fast forward a couple of hours and there is a new coach in the frame, courtesy of talkSport, with Jim White declaring on air that Veljko Paunović is now the current favourite for the job. A similarly unfamiliar name, Paunović spent four seasons in charge of MLS side Chicago Fire before leaving last November. That was his first job in club football, having previously coached in the Serbian national team set-up at youth level where his crowning moment was winning the Under-20 World Cup in 2015.

Following that historic victory, ESPN wrote an interesting profile of Paunović, including how he is a “pragmatic” coach and likes to use social media to to help his players. Meanwhile, talkSport write that “Reading are set to make six to eight new signings to support the expected appointment of Paunovic, as they bid to make a return to the Premier League”.

As with yesterday’s events, things may move quickly throughout the course of today and by tomorrow there may even be a third Serbian tipped for the job. We’ll try to keep you up to date with everything on The Tilehurst End, so stay tuned to the website and our Twitter page.