Why I think Reading could be a surprise package

I’m sure many Reading fans will look at the title of this article and have a little chuckle to themselves. Certainly, I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if I’m proved wrong, however, in the last week or so I have become ever so slightly more confident about the prospect of the season ahead.

Last week I would have said that a mid-table finish would be realistic. Looking at our squad with so many young players, I just didn’t think that it would be possible for us to compete. I did think that it would be an exciting season, a breakthrough season for some potentially very talented young players, and a building block on the road to success. However, in the last week the takeover has been confirmed (nearly) and we have began to dip into the transfer market, and in my opinion it seems Nigel Adkins is being extremely clever.

The first confirmed signing is Simon Cox, who Reading fans will know very well, a product of the academy and a local boy who went to school in Tilehurst. After leaving the Royals, becoming a victim of progressing during a time when we had a very talented squad, Cox joined Swindon Town and proved a real talent in League 1, prompting a £1.5 million move to West Brom. After this move I think it’s fair to say Cox struggled for goals, and maybe this step up was too soon in the players development. Cox joined forest in 2012 for around £2 million and again struggled for goals, scoring only 13 in 73. In my opinion, I think this move could not be anymore perfect for Cox. Either way, he certainly needed a fresh start, and where better to go than to his hometown club where it all began. Cox will know a number of the first team already, the likes of Karacan, Robson-Kanu, Pearce and McCarthy and more, which will make settling in easy. I may be proved wrong, but I see a big season from him.

We seem to have been quite lucky that Forest have wanted to spend so much, because it seems to mean we will be getting Jamie Mackie on loan from them as well as Cox. I think Mackie will probably interest Reading fans more than any other deal that is rumoured. Mackie cost Forest £1 million from QPR last season. An extremely hard-working player, who never seems to stop working and often causes lots of problems for defenders, despite not being the most talented footballer on the planet. Mackie has been a huge favourite with fans at Plymouth, QPR and Forest, and the majority of fans you speak to speak very highly of him. At this level I think it will prove to be great business.

Now onto a signing which most fans wont enjoy, but I again take the positives from, Anton Ferdinand. A player it seems has been offered to Adkins by the new owners, he doesn’t exactly set the world alight. However, at on 29-years-old, and with bags of experience behind him at this level and in the Premier League, and not forgetting on a free, how can it not be positive to add to this young group of players? I don’t expect him to start, but having him around to help the youngsters and providing solid back-up, it seems a good move to me.

Finally, I move on to the last rumour going around for now, which is Leicester City’s Dean Hammond. A player Adkins had at Southampton and made captain. With our current CM crisis with Guthrie, Karacan and Williams on the sidelines he would provide great back-up and again lots of experience. I think it would be a great move if the club pull it off.

I appreciate many Reading fans would love to see us splash big money like many clubs do, but personally I would rather see signings like these than £8 million for a League 1 striker who has practically no Championship experience. That’s a huge risk, and yes, it may work very well, but we are taking a far more measured approach, and I like it.

You can clearly see that Adkins trusts a lot of these young players, and is always keen to bring youngsters through, just like he did at Southampton. However, before money was available to him it seemed that there was not enough depth to our squad, and we couldn’t rest our hopes on such a young team. However, Adkins is very cleverly building an experienced core to the squad. I think it is fair to say none of these players are hugely exciting, big names, but they do all have talent and something to prove. The mix of this experience and the raw talent some of the young players like Edwards, Kuhl, Obita and the likes have shown, I think we could be in for a very exciting season. Equally, I could be very wrong, and be very over optimistic about our chances. I’m not saying we are going to storm the Championship, because I think there are much stronger outfits than us this season, but I do think we will be well up in the top half of the table. I suppose only time will tell.

Reading to win the League – 16/1 with Ladbrokes

Reading to get relegated – 14/1 with Ladbrokes

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