New Season Preview: Russian investment will not spoil “The Reading Way”
Much of Reading’s success is down to Sir John Madejski, who saved the Royals from near-extinction in 1990 and shrewdly invested in the club, building a new stadium and giving managers freedom to roam in the transfer market.
August 15th, 2012
Speak to any Royals fan about what makes their club special and they will probably refer to “the Reading way”. In its most basic form, this is the ethos that no player is bigger than the team. Ever since the record-breaking season in 2005/06, leading to their first ever foray into the Premier League, a tight-knit squad has been the bedrock of the Royals’ most successful period in its history. The now infamous “second-season syndrome” proved Reading’s downfall after an 8th place finish first time round, but after two playoff heartbreaks in three years, Brian McDermott led his side to the Championship title last season. And just like the first time round, the squad spirit and never-say-die attitude was what led them there. 26 of their 69 goals came in the final 15 minutes of matches, proving they may have been down but they were never out.
Much of Reading’s success is down to Sir John Madejski, who saved the Royals from near-extinction in 1990 and shrewdly invested in the club, building a new stadium and giving managers freedom to roam in the transfer market. Another part of the “Reading way” is their transfer policy employed over the past few years. It would be churlish to reduce this to “buy low, sell high” but that’s exactly what they’ve done – Kevin Doyle and Shane Long were bought from Cork City back in 2005 for around £100k combined; Doyle departed in 2009 for around £5m and Long left last summer for a similar fee. The buzzwords “young and hungry” are constantly bandied around by Royals fans and management to describe those incoming. Players with something to prove thrive in the Reading environment, where hard work and commitment are rewarded – usually with success.
Madejski was hit hard by the credit crunch, which in turn saw players such as Long, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Matt Mills move on for sizeable fees to plug some of his losses. But the investment of Russian tycoon Anton Zingarevich in January led to the signing of Jason Roberts, as well as new contracts for the unsettled Jimmy Kebe and Adam Federici. Many Royals fans feared this would lead to a major shift in the Reading ethos, but Brian McDermott has stuck to his guns and gone about business in much the same way. The signing of Pavel Pogrebnyak was the only deal which hinted at major investment on Anton’s part – the rest of Reading’s signings have been – yep – “young and hungry”, with something to prove.
Garath McCleary, Chris Gunter and Adrian Mariappa are experienced Championship players, Danny Guthrie will want to show Newcastle what they missed by releasing him, whilst Nicky Shorey returns to the club where he made his name and even won England caps. And perhaps most importantly, all of these signings were made before the Royals’ pre-season tour to Portugal, leaving them ample time to bed in and learn “the Reading way”. With many predicting relegation for the Royals, the team bond will be tested to the limit this season. With McDermott at the helm and the same core of players which took 53 of their 89 points in the second half of the season, you can be sure Reading will fight to the finish.
Written by Jonny Williams.