I recently spoke with Dan, a Reading fan, and writer at The Tilehurst End on his thoughts for Reading’s seasons, his opinion on Town and crucially the prediction for Tuesday night’s Championship fixture between our two sides.
Obviously the aim of Reading is to get out of the division and back to the PL, Is Nigel Adkins the man to do it?
He’s got the credentials to do it but so far he’s been putting out fires rather than building a team in his own image that can get promoted. Some fans don’t like his overly optimistic nature and PR spiel but he seems like a decent honest bloke who likes to develop young talent and play exciting football. Whether he can do that at Reading is the question but the vast majority of the fanbase is well behind him.
What has Nigel Adkins done so far this summer to reshape the squad?
At first he was limited to selling players as the financial fallout from Anton Zingarevich’s ill-fated spell as owner continued. Several experienced heads including Mikele Leigertwood and club captain Jobi McAnuff were allowed to go while top goalscorer Adam Le Fondre was sold to Cardiff to pay a tax bill. Fortunately a new ownership group is on the verge of completing a takeover so we’ve been able to add Simon Cox, Jamie Mackie and Anton Ferdinand, though our plans were further hit as former Terrier Sean Morrison jumped ship to Cardiff for a £4m fee.
And what does he still need to do?
Find a new magic sponge? If Adkins was able to call on players like Danny Williams, Danny Guthrie, Jem Karacan and Garath McCleary it would be a fantastic boost but signing wise we still need some extra firepower up front while a new centre back and left back would both be welcome.
Which Reading player should we be looking out for next season?
Jordan Obita had a breakout campaign that led to him taking player of the season honours in his first year as a Championship player so it’ll be interesting to see how he kicks on this season while Pavel Pogrebnyak has still yet to fully live up to his hefty wage packet but with reinforcements he could finally realise the potential he’s shown at places like Fulham.
Who is going to be your surprise performer this year?
It’s hard to answer this until we really know how many players we can sign but keep an eye on a couple of younger players by the name of Aaron Kuhl and Craig Tanner. Both were part of the side that won the U21 Premier League cup last year and both have fantastic potential. Nick Blackman could also be set for a breakout year some 18 months after signing for a seven figure sum from Sheffield United.
What are your concerns for the season ahead?
That we fail to strengthen the squad and squander another golden opportunity to compete for promotion. This is a squad that’s retained the core of a team that came within 60 seconds of a play-off place so it shouldn’t be too hard to match or better that. The concern is that we don’t add players and simply rely on our currently injured contingent to get fit and while that’s a noble strategy, everyone knows that you’ll never be so lucky!
Where do you think you’ll finish & why?
Again I don’t want to get too many splinters from sitting on the fence but it really does depend what we do in this transfer window. Even moderate investment should see a decent play-off push but if we continued with this group of players I’d fancy us more for a midtable finish.
What do you make of Huddersfield Town’s prospects?
So far you’ve looked a team in freefall so getting in the right manager is going to be vital. You’ve got a good stadium and in Nakhi Wells there’s a genuine goalscorer but losing the likes of Adam Clayton is going to make things tough. This is an unforgiving league but thankfully a long one so while I’d pick you to be in that relegation dogfight I see no reason why you couldn’t turn things around.
Care to predict the Top Two, Play off teams & winner and the dreaded 3 that will face the drop?
I’d back Cardiff to spend their way to a place in the top two while Norwich should bounce back from what seemed an abberation of a season to return to the top division. I still think Wigan have a fantastic side despite a shaky start and should join the likes of Fulham and Derby in the play-off picture. Middlesbrough are my dark horses for the season though, and that’s in no small part down to adding a certain Mr Clayton. As for the drop, I can’t see Blackpool pulling themselves together, while Rotherham have come a long way in such a short time that they’ll be in the mix. As for the other place, I’ll stick my neck out and say Birmingham.
Predictions for The Game (on Tuesday night)
We’re riding a decent wave of results and while performances may not have been overwhelming, I think we’ll have enough to get by on a 1-0 or 2-1 result.
Any Advice to travelling supporters for Pubs / Hotels areas to avoid etc ?
Pubs close to the ground are in very short supply, so if you want to do any serious drinking I’d reccomend going into the town centre and then catching one of the regular shuttle busses that run from just outside the train station. Likewise if you’re thinking of walking from the station I’d allow yourself plenty of time! If you do want drinks closer to the ground then there’s a Holiday Inn some 15 minutes walk away which welcomes visiting supporters, though it is quite busy. This guide by our friends at the Royals Rendezvous was written a couple of years ago but is still very much relevant and full of good information.
Our Thanks to Dan from The Tilehurst End for taking the time out to speak with us.
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