Adkins Begins Scouting For Next Season
With the sacking of Brian McDermott and the subsequent belated appointment of ex-Southampton boss Nigel Adkins, most Royals fans thought this would be too little, too late in terms of saving the season.
April 18th, 2013
As it stood after Adkins’ first game, a 4-1 drubbing against Arsenal at the Emirates, Reading lay bottom of the table, seven points away from safety. Though the official line coming out of the club was the typical “it’s not over until it’s mathematically possible”, Adkins’ rotation suggested he was planning for next year in the Championship already.
Twenty different players have started the three games of the Adkins era so far, including all three of the Royals’ registered goalkeepers. Formations have been adjusted too, with the 4-5-1 at home to Southampton changing to a more traditional 4-4-2 in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool. He’s brought back £2.5m right-back Chris Gunter and pushed January signing Stephen Kelly to left-back; he’s tried super-sub Le Fondre up top on his own, and also Pogrebnyak and Hunt in tandem together; he’s rotated the central midfield between the passing ability of Guthrie and Akpan, and the defensive qualities of Leigertwood and Karacan. It might just be that Adkins is more happy to rotate his side for different games to suit the opposition, but it also suggests he wants to get a scope of everyone in the squad before the rebuilding opposition begins in the summer.
And the squad might be decimated to an extent come the close-season. Centre-back Alex Pearce still hasn’t signed a new contract and is likely to move to another Premier League club. Left-backs Shorey and Harte are out of contract too come July, so Adkins’ experiment with Kelly at left-back suggests he’s seeing if he can fulfil that role next season. Pavel Pogrebnyak may not fancy a season in the Championship and for all the rumours of his exact wages per week, there’s no doubt they are the highest in the squad. And rumblings of discontent from other players in the squad such as Garath McCleary, Hal Robson-Kanu, Danny Guthrie and Adam Le Fondre means there could be more departures in the summer than most Reading fans would want.
Goalkeeper is another position at which there will be certain change. Adam Federici has seemingly been pining for a move for a couple of years, yet nobody has made a concrete bid – whether any team will take the plunge on a custodian who has been part of the worst defence in the Premier League remains to be seen. Alex McCarthy has been the number two, but after his stunning performance against Liverpool and many more great games throughout a season curtailed by injury, it may be him who keeps playing in the top league next season. Mikkel Andersen has spent many loan spells at different clubs throughout his career and he’ll either want to step up this season, or take his chances elsewhere.
The reappearance of Daniel Carrico, last seen for 45 minutes in January, will no doubt have the Royals fans excited. He looked comfortable in possession and solid in the tackle, suggesting he will be important come next season. With Adkins wanting to employ a slicker passing style the emergence, of Carrico is welcome to say the least – the squad is seemingly bereft of players suited to his style; and so all of those with passing ability and calmness on the ball will be of paramount importance. We might see some players come from Adkins’ old side Southampton, or some he’s had an eye on for a while. But there will be as many outs as ins – this will be the biggest change in the squad for many a year at Reading Football Club. And whilst this has been an opportunity wasted in the Premier League, it has to be taken as a learning experience.