Relegated Reading are the subject of our last season preview instalment
The Vital Watford season preview continues with recently-relegated Reading…
On paper, the Royals should be one of the favourites to win promotion from the Championship this term, having held onto the majority of the players which served Brian McDermott so well in winning the title in 2012.
Former Southampton and Scunthorpe United boss Nigel Adkins is now in charge – another to harshly lose his job last term – bringing with him plenty of experience of winning promotion.
However, it`s also worth pointing out that the squad which won promotion in 2012 wasn`t that special anyway. Had the Royals not found the momentum to put together a string of wins towards the end of the season they wouldn`t even have been in contention for promotion.
That said, Adkins has been able to add a bit of quality over the summer, with former Chelsea and Manchester City left-back Wayne Bridge replacing Ian Harte, and former Everton and Real Madrid utility man Royston Drenthe also arriving in Berkshire.
Reading should be good enough to trouble the top six, but if Adkins can unite his group and shake off the cloud of relegation, an automatic promotion chase shouldn`t be beyond them.
In: Royston Drenthe (Alania Vladikavkaz, undisc.), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim, undisc.) & Wayne Bridge (Manchester City, free).
Out: Uche Ikpeazu (Watford, tribunal), Mikkel Anderson (Randers, loan), Nick Arnold (Wycombe Wanderers, loan), Ryan Edwards (Perth Glory, loan), Daniel Carrico (Sevilla, loan) & Michael Hector (Aberdeen, loan).
Key Player – Hal Robson-Kanu: The 24 year-old winger has been with the Royals for six years having joined from Arsenal`s youth setup in 2004.
Loan spells in the Football League with Southend United and Swindon Town have given the exciting winger a good grounding and last term the full Welsh international impressed in the Premier League, scoring seven times in 25 top-flight appearances.
An England Under-19 and Under-20 cap, Acton-born Robson-Kanu switched allegiance to Wales at Under-21 level and now has 14 senior caps and one goal for Chris Coleman`s side.
“Reading are perhaps the best equipped team to bounce straight back after relegation last season. The question will be will they spend the type of money they need to get back up or will they do what Blackpool have done and save?
“Nigel Adkins obviously has a record of getting teams up but Reading relied on their team ethic to get themselves up two years ago rather than individual quality. They’ve brought in some more flair this summer to add to their workmanlike squad with Royston Drenthe and Danny Williams.
“Wayne Bridge was also arguably the best left back in the division last season so he is another good signing. But they have let a lot of their squad players go and they’ll be thinner of the ground this season in terms of numbers.
“They will be around the top six and will probably finish in the playoffs.”