It’s been a long time coming, but Reading finally have a new manager in the dugout. Former Southampton gaffer Ruben Selles will be the man tasked with leading the Royals in the 2023/24 campaign - hopefully a promotion-winning campaign at that. The 40-year-old Spaniard had been in charge on the south coast until the end of the season just gone.
Selles had been speculated to be on the verge of taking over at Reading for a short while before the club officially acknowledged his arrival on Tuesday June 26. At that point they said Selles was “set to sign a contract and become first-team manager of the Royals - subject to the club’s successful application for a work visa”, which had been applied for at the end of the previous week.
That visa was eventually ratified on July 11, ahead of news later in the week that Reading's transfer embargo was finally lifted. We've already seen one signing - Harvey Knibbs - come in through the door.
Selles is the belated successor to previous permanent boss Paul Ince, who was sacked in mid-April after a horrid run of form that set Reading on the way to relegation. Interim Noel Hunt couldn’t salvage the Royals’ Championship status in the final five matches of the season and was seemingly not in serious contention to get the job permanently.
This also marks the conclusion to a drawn-out, stressful and erratic process of getting a new manager in. Although a smorgasbord of candidates were linked - such as Nathan Jones, Chris Davies, Karl Robinson and Danny Cowley - Chris Wilder was the main option for a long time. He was seemingly on the brink of taking over, only for the move to fall through at the eleventh hour.
Selles’ arrival may well be seen through the lens of who he isn’t. With more established candidates such as Wilder and Jones both strongly linked with joining Reading, ultimately seeing a rookie candidate who’s far more of an unknown quantity be appointed could seem disappointing. Still, it's a relief to finally get anyone into the dugout, given the erratic nature of this summer.
And on the face of it, his only taste of managerial experience isn’t all that encouraging either. Selles took over at Southampton last season, managing just three wins (one of them via a penalty shoot-out), four draws and 11 defeats across 18 matches in all competitions. The Saints ultimately finished bottom, 11 points off safety.
Then again, it’d be a tad harsh to judge him solely on that. Taking over at Southampton - a club that had already gone through two managers that season by the point of Selles’ arrival - would have been a rough job for anyone.
And he has an impressive resume as a coach elsewhere too. Selles has worked across Europe in a variety of roles, including as an assistant manager, in youth development and in analysis. Sim explored all of that in a long read here.
So it’s out of the frying pan, into the fire for Selles. Good luck to him, he’ll need it.