We all expected it to happen. Some of us wanted it more than others. Either way, it doesn’t matter because Veljko Paunovic has gone. After nearly two years in the dugout at RG2, he is no longer in charge of picking the team. Right decision? Of course. Right time? Honestly can’t answer that.
The facts are that we’ve just won our first game in months - since November 27 which ironically was also a 3-2 away win. We’d also just kept our first clean sheet in an albeit dire match midweek, so on paper it seems odd the decision has been made now. Of course, only a a fool would overlook the run of form that came before it - I’m not going over that now, but if you are reading this, you’ll know it’s been awful.
The problem for me, with VP overall, is that we never really knew him. And I don’t mean that in a dramatic way, but when we were at our highest point under him last season, we were locked out of games due to a global virus sweeping the… well, globe.
Personally, I wanted it to work for him as I’m sure others did. But the cracks really did turn into chasms after the Kidderminster Harriers defeat. We all know that once the fans turn on the manager, there is no way back. Protests have been ongoing and have reached boiling pot over the last week, meaning the club had little choice but to pull the lever marked “trap door” and let him go.
The interview he gave after the game was classy and reserved. He didn’t have to do that. Or rather, he shouldn’t have had to do that, which leads me onto the most disgusting part of all this. The club have well and truly hung him out to dry over the course of this season.
"This club has a special place in my heart."— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) February 19, 2022
Veljko Paunovic reflects on today's win at Preston North End, and his time as manager of our club, after it was confirmed he'd be departing by mutual consent. #PNEREA pic.twitter.com/Zidt49hbSk
He’s been the CEO, chief scout and transfer advisor alongside his actual job of coaching the team. If you juggle plates long enough, you’ll end dropping one. The club (I mean the top office here) have shown yet again they are incapable of managing anything properly, succinctly and ethically.
We are led to believe that Pauno agreed before the game he’d be leaving. Forget your overriding opinion of him for a minute - imagine the mental strain that would have on someone for just a second. You’ve been abused, battered, ridiculed and now sacked, but still need to go out for one final time and try and do the business.
As for Paul Ince coming in, time will tell. We are told it’s interim, we are told Michael Gilkes will be with him and that the hard works starts now. Ince has been without a job since 2014 when he left Blackpool. Whether or not he’s been in contention for other jobs, I’ve no idea. Maybe the change of face will help, maybe it won’t, maybe he’ll keep us up, maybe he won’t. Either way, the players have to continue to fight to keep us up and the fans will continue to support the team as they have done all through the last few years.
As I said earlier, it’s the right decision for Pauno to go but the way it has been handled just confirms what I know of the club and the people making decisions: that at their core, they don’t care. It’s another sorry example of how badly this club has and is being run right now and it’s painful and sad to watch. The respect between the fanbase and the club is all but gone and even with a new manager, it’s not coming back anytime soon.
Best of luck to Paul Ince - you’re going to need it mate.