So, Paul Ince has been announced as the permanent manager of Reading with Alex Rae as his number two. Full disclosure: was he my first choice as manager? Absolutely not. Am I displeased with the appointment? Also absolutely not, and that is a personal viewpoint that has gradually evolved over the last three months since his initial interim appointment.
The beggar’s camp
The sooner fans realise the club has been a complete basket case for seasons past, the better, and it means we have been at the bottom of the list for prospective players, manager and football style.
Why is this? Firstly, dress it up however you want, but it was mission accomplished after Paul Ince’s initial appointment. We survived relegation. Credit must be given where it is due, including to Alex Rae and Michael Gilkes: we played well enough when it mattered and got the results needed to maintain Championship status for another season. The football wasn’t great, but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to grinding out results when you’re at the bottom of the table. You try to win no matter how it happens. It’s as simple as that.
Last season was a firefight from day one and next season will be too. However, let’s be honest, the recruitment last season wasn’t half bad given the individual calibre of player we signed (Alen Halilovic, Andy Carroll, Danny Drinkwater, Junior Hoilett etc). But we are again in the beggar’s camp for players given the EFL business plan so we need to be very clever and cute with our recruitment next season to stand a chance of surviving the drop again, and that is the ultimate aim once again – avoid relegation. If Ince can do that again then kudos where it is due.
And on the subject of Ince, let’s be brutally honest – Reading FC are in no position to poach a manager in a job, and we are in no position to appoint a manager who has had a degree of success at Championship level in the recent past. We can’t afford it, business plan restrictions hitting us once again, so we were in the beggar’s camp for the manager.
Cast your mind back to the Coventry City home game in February and the protest at the running of the club by the owners. There were three key points the protesters wanted addressing, points I think we all ultimately could understand even if not everyone was behind the protest itself.
The key points were to change the management (remember we were under the stewardship of Pauno at the time), change the recruitment process and improve the levels of transparency with fans.
Objective one was achieved. Whether you agree with Paul Ince being appointed is moot - the club have listened and done what they think is best. He has now taken the job permanently but before he did so he very publicly stated recently that if he would only take the manager’s job permanently if changes were undertaken with the club structure.
Those changes appear to be taking place with the appointment of Mark Bowen as head of football operations, and there was a clear picture painted in the announcement of Bowen’s arrival indicating what his role entails and how it will strategically link everything football-wise at the club. That can only be viewed as a positive - it’s what we as fans have been crying out for.
Ongoing transparency, however, is an issue. There is a massive PR problem with Reading FC at the moment – I know of no fans who trust the club hierarchy to make decision in the best interests of the club. Recent appointments have been a decent start, even if some fans are disappointed.
But’s let’s not forget that the situation the club finds itself in is not going to be solved with the appointment of one or two people. It needs to be a process of evolution, not revolution, and fans MUST be patient while the new structure embeds itself and we continue to work our way to a better financial footing. This is step one in what I hope is a new and better way of managing the club and, regardless of how he performs with results going forward, credit must be given to Ince for insisting on the changes.
COME ON URZ!!