We’ve asked writers from around the division about their clubs’ prospects ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, but what do they think about Reading? We got those same writers to assess the Royals’ chances. Many thanks to them for taking the time out to share their thoughts with us.
Barnsley - Rob Miles
Another club with an uncertain time ahead, especially with the new manager coming in recently who like our previous three has no experience of the country. Your form post lockdown wasn’t great which could be a worry with the new season starting so close to the last one ending. I think you will be one of a few clubs who wins enough games to avoid the battle at the bottom but nowhere near enough to worry the play-offs. A just above us finish of 14th.
Birmingham City - Gabriel Sutton
16th. I think you’ve got a good squad, especially in that midfield area, but you seem to be leaving it a touch late for a restructuring and change of recruitment plan. Lucas João staying fit would make a big difference, I’d imagine.
Blackburn Rovers - Mike Delap
I think you’ll improve based on your previous exploits. Hard to tell (much like Rovers) - I’ll say 14th. You’re one of the harder ones to call though.
Bournemouth - Carey Paton
Reading are in a similar situation to ourselves - a new manager at the start of the season leaves a lot of unknowns. And with a few weeks of the transfer window left it’s difficult to know which players will stay, who will go and how the team will gel under the new boss. I think you’ll have a season much like us, ending in mid-table. As long as we don’t have another game like the 2015’s Most Nervy Game Ever (TM) at The Madejski. I’m still getting over that one.
Brentford - Billy Grant
This is a tough one. Your end-of-season form is not a good barometer as there was a little bit of ‘sun loungers on the beach’ activity going down in the Reading manor post-lockdown.
You have a new manager in Paunovic. I know people who know him and they say he is very smart, speaks a few languages including Spanish and is hard working. Chicago didn’t work out for him for a number of reasons and he has learned from his mistakes.
Reading has also started off on a good note with Lucas Joao scoring a hat trick.
However, there has been a lot of manager chopping and changing at Reading. And I don’t know if this season may be more of a transition season for you - with the new manager shaping things up for a push next season. Assuming your board don’t get impatient once again at the end of the season if you are not in the top six.
I’ll go 10th for Reading. But that’s real finger in the air.
Bristol City - The Exiled Robin
Signing Ejaria on a permanent deal is obviously a great bit of business for you and much needed. He looked your true bit of star quality last season.
However, I feel like you’ll need a bit more to have an impact in this division and it remains to be seen if your new manager can replace Mark Bowen who from the outside looking in, seemed to have done a reasonable job. I’d assume you’d be very happy with anything top half? I’ll go for 16th.
Cardiff City - Dan Lewis
I won’t pretend to know a great deal about your new manager, or the quality of your incoming and outgoing transfer activity, but after three seasons flirting with relegation I’ll put you down to finish 17th.
Coventry City - Dominic Jerams
If you’d asked me a week ago, I would probably have had Reading around the bottom half, possibly in the relegation conversation. Given the kind of talk around the club since then, Reading look to be one of the toughest teams to predict heading into this season. With a possible new manager and a raft of new signings to come into the side, Reading could really kick on, but the danger is that it’s been left a little late to put together a team capable of challenging for the top six.
I know this is horribly fence-sitting of me, but Reading seem a team that could just as easily make the play-offs as they could get relegated.
Derby County - Derby County Blog
I will be honest, I had never heard of your new coach Veljko Paunovic and much depends on how well he settles in. Changing coaches is always a gamble and my instinct is that Reading will finish in the bottom half of the table again this season.
Huddersfield Town - Brady Frost
Reading have baffled me in the last 12 months, to be honest, so I have no idea. The Mark Bowen situation seems very strange from an outside perspective, firstly to appoint him as manager when he was your sporting director, and then to get rid of him after he did what seemed a respectable job. I’d be lying if I said I have any idea about Veljko Paunović as a coach, and given how bizarre The Championship is as a league, you could be anywhere in the table.
Signing Ovie Ejaria permanently is a good move and you have some good players like your goalkeeper Rafael and I think there’s more to come from players like Puscas. However, given what sounds like uncertainty in the boardroom, that can have negative effects on the team performance. There’s a lot of good sides in the league this year, so I think the playoffs will be a stretch too far for Reading and I wouldn’t be surprised if Paunović doesn’t last the season, but I hope I’m wrong for your sake.
Luton Town - Matt Storey
Does anybody really know how Reading are going to do? Just from following your esteemed editor on Twitter and from keeping a fairly close eye on Championship news, Reading looking something of a basket case currently. There is little worse than seeing a fanbase just feel so disconnected from their club and that seems to be the case for yourselves at the moment. That said, you still have some quality players and I think you’ll manage to avoid relegation due to some other poor clubs. I’m going for 18th.
Middlesbrough - Sam France
If I say you’re going to win the league, can we have Ovie Ejaria? There’s plenty I like about Reading’s team, and George Puscas has done absolute bits for me on Football Manager before, but it all comes down to Paunovic really. You’ve either pulled a gem from nowhere or binned off a perfectly decent manager for the sake of a gamble. I’ll be non-committal and vague, and say mid-table.
Millwall - Lucas Ball
If you’d have asked me that a week ago, I’d have probably said about 15th/16th, respectably mid table. With the mess that’s gone on since then, I honestly have no idea.
You shouldn’t have to worry about relegation with some of the quality in the ranks, but it depends how quickly the new manager can adjust. The announcement seemed a little distasteful without reference to Bowen who, given the circumstances, did a reasonable job in my opinion.
Norwich City - Connor Southwell
Answers on a postcard. I would have said a steady top-half finish under Mark Bowen but that strategic review seems the equivalent of dropping an explosive device on the train track and it coming off the rails.
Sure, it may land further along the track but it could also be blown way of course. I guess the final league position come May will decide how good of a decision it is. I have my doubts, sadly. 14th.
Nottingham Forest - Sean Hockett
I suppose it’s all a bit up in the air now you’ve got a new manager. In your eight seasons back in the Championship you haven’t exactly been pulling up trees - and neither have we - but have a slightly better manager to season ratio than us.
You kind of have our number - only two losses in our last nine meetings - and it’s never a fun place (in terms of results) for Forest fans to visit. I’m sure your new manager will make a few changes in the coming weeks with regards to players, so at this stage you’re an unknown quantity. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific than that.
Preston North End - James Vickers
I think the losses of Danny Loader and Tyler Blackett will be big for Reading, as when I’ve been down to the Madejski they have often been two of the players that cause Preston trouble.
The permanent signing of Ovie Ejaria seems like very good business on the face of things as I expect him to get better for you now he knows where his future lies. The same goes for Josh Laurent who has come in from Shrewsbury. In the forward areas I think you will give teams a very good game.
Defensively, I think you are very solid again as only Blackett has departed. 58 goals conceded last season in the league is very good going as well, only Wigan who were desperately unlucky to go down conceded less outside the top nine.
Depending on the end to your transfer window, and with one or two more signings I would expect you to go better than last season and challenge in the top half again.
Queen’s Park Rangers - Clive Whittingham
Christ, what has everybody else said for this one? Given the Bowen thing, the new manager thing, everything that’s going on, it would be a brave man to call. While there’s a lot of FFP attention on clubs like Derby, Sheff Wed, Birmingham and others I don’t understand how Reading operate with a wage bill many, many times over the club’s annual turnover, regularly spend big money on signing players, and yet never seem to get any better, nor trouble the FFP regulations.
Rotherham - Richard Wilson
Reading are a tough club to weigh up, especially with another manager change! I’ll say 16th, just above ourselves!
Sheffield Wednesday - Louis Shackshaft
I never know what to expect from Reading, they can beat anybody in this division one week but then let themselves down the next. They also seem to concede as many goals as they score over the course of the season. I must admit they can be very entertaining to watch. I don’t think the Royals have quite enough to break into the top half but are far too good to be anywhere near the bottom. I will predict a 14th place finish.
Stoke City - Ben Rowley
You’re an enigma, aren’t you? I never really know how to class Reading, especially after changing your manager. Incidentally, I was hoping you’d hold onto Mark Bowen so you could take his love-child Kevin Wimmer off our books. Now though it’s open season. You guys could be pushing for play-offs or fighting relegation and I wouldn’t be surprised. It all depends, of course, on what your new manager and his backroom staff brings to the team. I’m going to chicken out and say you’ll finish mid-table, but who knows with you lot. Best of luck, all the same!
Swansea City - Declan Terry
I think Reading should be around mid-table, although it’ll be interesting to see how the new manager does and see if he can propel the club back to more successful times. Although, I was a little surprised to see Mark Bowen depart recently after finishing last term pretty well. I think you have a few decent players to work with - I’m particularly a big fan of Ovie Ejaria and George Puscas looked good when I watched him last season. Hopefully they’re able to steer clear of a relegation fight.
Watford - The Voices of the Vic
Ben – I see Reading have signed Ovie Ejaria from Liverpool for £3.5m, that’s a steal at that price. If you can get a couple more players of his quality through the door I’d expect you to finish in the top 10.
Mike – Basing this off the fact I’ve not massively kept up to date with your transfer activity but I’m going to say a mid table finish – 13th. George Puscas to be top goalscorer for you lot.
Wycombe Wanderers - Tom Hancock
I’ve seen it said that Reading are officially in their ‘banter era’ now, so who knows? You certainly seem to be ‘going for it’, but that’s just as likely to end in tears as it is in glory. I think you’ve got enough quality to stay well clear of any semblance of a relegation battle, but there’s nothing obvious at this stage that suggests you’ll break into the top six. Mid-table? It’s not for me to say, though!