So, Paul Ince has been appointed as the first-team manager of Reading Football Club, having been parachuted in incredibly unexpectedly in February after Veljko Paunovic departed.
Of course, that decision came as a complete shock (Ince coming in, not Pauno exiting). The team were able to pick up enough points under Ince’s stewardship to stay in the league and confirm their Championship status for another season, most notably with that absolute thunder-snorter of a match against the Mega Swans from South Wales on Easter Monday, following the smash-and-grab win against Sheffield United the previous Friday.
The appointment today however will not be met with shock. Actually, that’s a lie: the shock will come from why it took so long to announce with the pre-season being over a week old already. There are obvious reasons for this, most notably in that Ince clearly needed some reassurance as to how the footballing side of the club would move forward (hence Mark Bowen’s appointment today).
The decision to give the ex-England, Inter Milan and Manchester United midfielder (I sound like the blooming official site!) the job on a permanent basis will split opinion among the fanbase quicker than a Kit Kat being snapped on a tea break. I won’t go into the pros and cons now - there are plenty of sides to this coin. Ultimately, the club have moved quickly to get a manager and his coaching staff in place at the start of a large summer and that in itself should receive some praise.
But there will also be nagging doubts in people’s minds about whether or not the “search” for a manager ever started in the first place (see Reading’s statement from when Pauno was binned) and whether the club are just “settling” here.
With Bowen on board, you’d hope the off-pitch issues that have been embedded at the club will be sorted quickly. As I said earlier, I’d think Ince would have asked for plenty of things to change if he and Alex Rae were to say. Whether they do, who knows, time will tell etc etc.
For now, we have a manager, some coaches and someone who is in place to sweep the broom around the room and clear out the elephants we’ve all seen as fans for a long time. Maybe the board are learning, maybe they aren’t. Either way, we have the building blocks in place to begin pre-season with some solid foundations in place. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a start.