After a huge amount of change in pre-season, with Mark Bowen and Nigel Howe making way for Veljko Paunovic and Dayong Pang, there was one role we failed to fill.
Bowen was rumoured to return to his previous role of Sporting Director after being removed as manager - an option he understandably decided not to take - but this left us with no one to take care of the footballing side of the club behind the scenes. Pang’s knowledge of football was (and remains) unknown and, in hindsight, we could have faced a very messy situation if Veljko Paunovic had flopped at the start of the season.
This pre-season change behind the scenes though, combined with an amazing start, has put this issue firmly under the radar. Normally, you would associate a Sporting Director/Director of Football with being one of the most important figures at a football club, especially in this day and age.
However, the Royals have yet to appoint the person to fill this role - a position that has been vacant since Bowen took over as permanent manager at the club. In this sense, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of a DoF. Perhaps Mr Dai and Ms Hawken want the manager to take full control of the footballing side of things?
But at this stage, with several contracts to negotiate, a couple of players to shift and a few new players needed this month, could we use a Director of Football right now to relieve the pressure off Paunovic?
Of course, any new person coming into such an important role needs to fit in with what Paunovic is doing - and perhaps it’s a case that the board hasn’t found the right person yet to fill the mould. In that case, fair play to them for not panicking and making the wrong appointment - but, regardless of the reason why there isn’t a new DoF in place, it’s certainly interesting.
For me, I would ideally like another footballing man in there at a board level to make key decisions at the football club. At a coaching level, we have plenty in there: Paunovic himself, Marko Mitrovic, Nuno Gomes, John O’Shea and Quinton Fortune. Eddie Niedzwiecki might also be somewhere, although I have no idea where he’s hiding.
Michael Gilkes is also there in the academy with Mikele Leigertwood involved as well. All that’s missing now, for me, is that person at a board level. I said Bowen would have been the perfect man for the job with his brain and knowledge of English football, and he’s a man who’s not only been behind the scenes, but also played the game, coached and managed.
There were rumours (and I stress just rumours) about the previous gaffer being a divisive figure behind the scenes though, so in hindsight, maybe his departure was the best move for all parties.
If we can appoint someone with his experience though, it could be a very valuable signing for Reading, perhaps their most important in January alongside contract extensions for Omar Richards and Michael Olise. This is wishful thinking, but we can dream.
On the flipside, would an appointment now, mid-season, rock the boat at such an important time in the campaign? Apart from the contract situation with a few players, everything (*touches wood*) seems to be running reasonably smoothly considering the comical pre-season madness. Maybe Mr Dai knew what he was doing all along...
Overall, I wanted to keep this piece nice and short though so you could make up your own minds. It will be interesting to see what you all think and I’ll put a poll up at the bottom of this piece. The TTE admin might even push the boat out and do a Twitter poll if this is as interesting to a lot of other Reading fans as it is to me.
Let us know what you think!
Where do you stand on the DoF situation?
This poll is closed
Get a man in - no DoF, no party
Make Paunovic the supreme leader of Reading Football Club - leave him be at the helm