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The Managerial Merry-Go-Round

After the dismissal of Brian McDermott in March 2013 the obvious candidate was Nigel Adkins, who had been fired in his own slightly outrageous circumstances from Southampton but a couple of months earlier. He faced an impossible task saving us from relegation back to the Championship, but over the summer the rebuilding started for his first, and only full season in charge.

Undoubtedly promises made to him by Zingarevich never materialised, and glamour signing Royston Drenthe hinted at the manager not being the one completely in charge. Equally the loss of club talisman Jimmy Kébé just days after a 6-0 hammering in the League Cup away at Peterborough wasn't the start anybody wanted. Despite the setbacks Reading mounted a spirited play-off challenge, but failed to get over the line missing out on the final day of the season with scenes that we'd all rather forget.

The hangover from last season never really lifted, with attendances down and, again, having key members of the squad leave. This time poster-boys Le Fondre and McCarthy left, alongside key central defender Sean Morrison. Partly made up for by Cox returning - and doing well - but the signing of Anton Ferdinand in particular seemed to sum up the mood surrounding the club with our new Thai owners. Once again Nige wasn't fully in control of his own budget.

That's why his departure is slightly disappointing, he never fully had the opportunity to sculpt the squad into his own. Combined with the amount of the injuries at the start of this season, be that down to his training methods or not, its not entirely surprising we're sitting 16th in the table. The problem is that the squad at the moment is entirely good enough to be higher in the table.

The back four isn't dramatically different from last season's and yet it's gone to pieces. To see the same dire performance week after week is, whether justified or not, down to the management. Combined with the impotency of the attack, dominating games but failing to find the net, it's not hard to see why we'd only won three of the past fifteen matches - home matches against bottom of the league and a newly promoted Rotherham side almost being the sole highlights. Then the 6-1 defeat at the hands of a team scoring less than a goal a game, and who - up until Saturday - had the second worst goal difference in the league signed the manager's death warrant.

So it's not surprising to see why Nigel's looking for a new job, but is Steve Clarke the correct hiring? Of course, only a psychic will be able to tell at this point but the noises coming out of West Brom fans are good. An ex-right hand man at Chelsea, sacked controversially from a Premier League club makes him a combination of old Nige, and Mr Rodgers but hopefully the similarities end there.

Back to the positive, he guided the Midlands side to their highest finish in 32 years. The managers following him haven't been able to eek any more out of the Baggies, and winning (close enough) 1 in 3 Premier League games is a good sign indeed. Then there's his extensive coaching experience, and his approach to press conferences - which are bound to be an improvement on the veiled communiqués from the outgoing manager.

Whether he's given a budget in January or not because of the club's FFP worries is another issue entirely but with players coming back into the squad, including - finally - captain Karacan, hopefully Clarke can turn things around. With tricky games over Christmas against Watford and Norwich, and a banana skin in the form of Brighton away, it's not going to be easy. I agree with him though, the potential is already there for a promotion push.


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