Well, that Mark Bowen interview was promising.
His words may have been encouraging, but the fact we actually had a club official discussing matters openly with a journalist is a big step forward alone - and you can only hope that’s a sign of things to come.
This communication is incredibly important and though there’s still much work to be done off the pitch, with the matchday experience needing to be improved and more communication needed from other key figures at the club, there are now reasons for optimism.
It also just goes to show how important the appointment of Paul Ince was. He may not be the man to take Reading forward in the long term, but he made it clear he wanted a clear structure behind the scenes if he was to take the top job permanently and his wish has been granted.
Bowen is a key part of this makeover at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, and his words regarding Kia Joorabchian and his lack of future involvement caused jubilation on social media. For me, we’ll just have to wait and see whether his actions match his words because Joorabchian is likely to still have ties to the club through other people.
Mark Bowen: “Kia is a friend of the owner. The likes of Danny Drinkwater, he managed to get those situations done at the club, so he helped the club in my opinion. Ongoing, Kia won’t have any personal involvement in making decisions at the club. That now falls to me and my team.” pic.twitter.com/1VEfDv3SBX— Talk Reading (@TalkReading) June 30, 2022
First of all, Joorabchian was reportedly the man who approached Bowen when the Welshman first arrived at the club as a technical consultant and is even thought to be his representative. Secondly, former Sports Invest man Seb Ewen is still part of the recruitment team according to his LinkedIn. And finally, it’s been confirmed he’s a friend of Mr Dai, so this is still a situation to keep an eye on.
Bowen also claimed Joorabchian was involved in bringing the likes of Danny Drinkwater in last year, even though the club told STAR back in January that they thought he’d only been involved in deals to sign Lucas Joao and Matt Miazga in recent times. It would be unfair to just assume the club have been dishonest, but clarification on this issue is required to clear things up, because what STAR were told and what was said in this BBC Radio Berkshire doesn’t marry up.
Some people might think having Joorabchian involved in a limited number of deals may not cause too much harm, but recruitment (in my opinion) should always be guided by scouting.
It may be an old-fashioned way of looking at things, but scouting and the use of data - a more modern way of bringing in players - will give us the best chance of building a coherent squad.
Joorabchian’s reported existing ties to the Royals worry me still and we should only be using him in desperate, desperate times. If a potential signing is scouted and he’s coincidentally represented by Sports Invest, then so be it.
Bowen admitting Dai Yongge is an “absent” owner is also a concern because, although many shareholders aren’t exactly “hands on” these days, it would be ideal if he were more visible to provide the fanbase with a bit of reassurance.
An interview with him is still something we should be expecting considering he’s failed to directly communicate with the supporters during his five-year reign. We, as a fanbase, should be demanding that because standards both on and off the pitch need to rise considerably.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is the involvement (or lack of involvement) of Dai Xiu Li. The fact she wasn’t mentioned specifically in this interview speaks volumes and considering she’s one of our majority shareholders, we need answers on what her role is.
Moving on to CEO Dayong Pang, this communication from Bowen isn’t an excuse for him to be silent. We should be demanding regular updates from him regarding the current state of play at the club. Swansea City’s Julian Winter addresses his side’s fans directly, so we should be expecting similar.
It’s not all doom and gloom though - and there were certainly some very good bits from this BBC Berkshire interview. Bowen’s comments regarding Lucas Joao were spot on, he sounds like he knows what he’s doing and fully understands the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in, but also sounds calm and collected as well.
He’s doing his job, but now it’s time for others including Pang to step up to the plate and make the off-pitch changes needed to make us proud of the club again.
This interview, however, is a step forward in the Royals’ quest to become a better club.
To listen to the full interview, head to the BBC Berkshire website. Credit to Tim Dellor for asking some great questions!