Royals replace Brian McDermott
28 March ~ The 15-day hiatus between the sacking of Brian McDermott and the appointment of Nigel Adkins as the new Reading manager suggests there was never any grand design in place. Adkins was not only an obvious and available candidate but his profile was the closest to the manger he is replacing. Both were backroom boys made good – working promotion wonders on limited resources, popular with the fans and peremptorily fired soon after getting a 2-2 draw with the European champions.
This similarity of profile would indicate to Reading fans a welcome continuity of strategy, given that the bookmakers' shortlist ranged from Dick Advocaat to Martin Allen and included, as ever, Alan Curbishley. McDermott had sandwiched his January Manager of the Month award with one string of seven successive defeats and another of five so it is not altogether surprising he had, in the words of his own cliche, to "move on". But, in the view of many, there was a little more to the timing than just results.
Adkins nailed a fair few cliches of his own in his first press conference, including "working hard", "pulling in the same direction", "great challenge", "next game is the most important" and, yes, "moving on". It sounds as if the ears of the Reading faithful will be in familiar territory.
It is by their achievements that fans will judge the managers but it is by their rhetoric you get to know them. The cheerful brutalism of Alan Pardew ("we wuz a fret to them") was followed by the "uncooperative witness" mode of Steve Coppell, the deluded grandeur of Brendan Rodgers promising a "world class" silk purse out of a second-tier sow's ear and most lately by the grounded, everyman amiability of McDermott.
In last year's Championship race one could not help but be aware of Adkins's own style; a relentless, sun-tanned positivity. Although he has had a lot to be positive about, including now being dubbed the "perfect appointment" by Reading owner Anton Zingarevich.
He would certainly get off to a perfect start if he were to save Reading's Premier League status with a team that is currently out of form and low on playing resources with just eight games left. Adkins has a chance to write himself into history with his very first fixture on Saturday, away to Arsenal. No Reading manager has ever avoided defeat against the Gunners, not even with a four-goal lead, as McDermott would testify after the Royals' 7-5 League Cup loss earlier this season. A clean sheet against the Champions League aspirants would get some of that Adkins positivity echoing around Berkshire. Roger Titford