A Royal Affair: Part One

30 11 2006

Some people are of the opinion that managing in the Premiership is simple: you have millions of pounds to spend on top quality players and some of the finest talented squads in the world. That may be the case, especially for the bigwigs that sit on the heads of Chelsea and Manchester United. But for a small team – a team that is used to playing in the Championship – money is short, players are of an average standard, and the top players don’t want to join. From what I can see, managing Reading F.C is not going to be simple. Staying in the Premiership is going to be tough. So I say: bring it on.

Reading don’t have too bad a team on first view, although while most of the players could be considered ‘quality’ in the Championship, they would certainly struggle to fit into even the most desperate mid-table Premiership outfit. All areas seem to be a little depleted – although with a healthy £5m to splash out I was able to make some necessary signings.

The talent on show at the Madjeski could is encouraging: James Harper, Steve Sidwell, Seol Ki-Hyeon and Bobby Convey make for a strong midfield, and waiting in the shadows are the likes of Glen Little, John Oster and Stephen Hunt. Upfront the likes of Dave Kitson, Leroy Lita, Shane Long and Kevin Doyle are eager strikers, the latter three all relatively young for forwards. However, in defence things do look a little shaky.

It’s not so much that the current players can’t cut it – it’s the fact that if they struggled, I wouldn’t be able to replace them with satisfaction. The back-up defenders are pretty poor, and so it is this area – as well as the odd midfielder – where I was looking to strengthen the most.

Pre-season proved pretty fruitful for us. First to come through the door was the versatile Crewe defender Billy Jones for £1.2m. Jones is a well known talent in the FM series, so I won’t talk too much about him, but the fact that he can play anywhere across the back – as well as in a central midfield role – will certainly prove invaluable to us during the season.

Signing number two was the Burnley full back Jon Harley. I needed – desperately – a left back and a central defender. In signing Harley, Jones can be used in the centre, and the former Premiership player will provide solid back up to first choice Nicky Shorey.

The final signing was that of Greg Halford – the third player to join us from a lower league side. Halford, still only 21, can play in a right back position or as a striker – which may prove vital for us as we only have four strikers at the moment.

To boost the squad they were also two loan signings made, both players joining the club until the end of the season. The first was young midfielder Freddy Adu, a talented individual who won’t be playing every game for us but is sure to provide some tasty back up. By taking him on a loan I will also be able to judge how well he can adapt to the Premiership, with a summer transfer possible should he impress. Joining Adu is young Manchester City attacking midfielder Stephen Ireland. Ireland can also play upfront and was drafted in just before the start of the season after an injury to Dave Kitson left the striker out of action for two months.

Pre-season results were encouraging – a 5-0 victory over Antwerp being the highlight of a busy and tough nine fixture marathon. As the first game of the season loomed over the horizon, the team looked strong: we were still missing Kitson, and Nicky Shorey, first choice left back, had also picked up an injury that would rule him out for the first few games of the season. Glen Little was still nursing an injury picked up before I took over, but would be back soon enough. Still, we had a decent enough squad, and I feel that with a bit of luck and some hard work, we can stay in the Premiership this season. The target is to pick up 40 points – so if we win at least thirteen games, I will be quite satisfied.

Game One: Reading 1-0 Wigan Athletic

 

Wigan

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The game was fairly evenly balanced with both sides having a number of chances. However, we broke the deadlock after 25 minutes with a goal from Kevin Doyle. Mid way through the second half, Bobby Convey was stretched off injured, to be replaced by Freddy Adu, making his debut in the Premiership. It turned out that Convey strained his ankle ligaments, and would be out for nearly two months. Injuries were starting to hit us already – Convey is without a doubt our best player – and so my theory has been proved already: we will need a big squad to cover all eventualities. We managed to sit tight at the back and hold on to the one-nil lead, which was a great result for the first game of the season. A clean sheet, three points and a 100% record in the Premiership. Who said managing in the Premiership would be hard?

In Part Two, Reading suffer more injury set backs, although a strong defence and a great work ethic sees the side surprise everyone by moving up in the league.

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3 responses

2 12 2006
dendi

interesting read..

2 12 2006
The Football Manager Community » FM Community Digest 01/12/2006

[…] Check out Blog FM’s Reading story […]

4 12 2006
A Royal Affair: Game Two « Blog FM

[…] Following Reading’s 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic, the fans are in a jubliant mood as the team boards the coach for the journey up north to Everton’s Goodison Park. Joining the players was Glen Little, finally back from a pre-pre-season injury and ready to have some involvement in the clash. Despite keeping a clean sheet, I took the risk of changing the back centre pair, resting Ingimarsson and pushing Billy Jones into midfield, allowing Bikey and Mate, two on-loan defenders, a chance to impress. Adu also started his first game, and Greg Halford was given a role upfront to rest Kevin Doyle. […]

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