After a magnificent run Reading are going up. The sudden threat to return to the Premiership for the first time since 2008 can all be attributed to one factor: the new Russian billionaire owner, Anton Zingarevich. Since this multi-million pound deal was struck in January everything has gone right and the team and fans are enjoying some great days. So, how exactly has this takeover influenced the club so far?
Reading Fans sense something special is happening
Since Sir John Madejski saved the club in 1990 it has been run prudently and efficiently. Reading have never spent big money on transfers or paid large wages. The focus was always on bringing in unknown cheap players to do the business, the 100 grand spent on Kevin Doyle and Shane Long being a very successful case in point. Sadly this approach has rather limited clout in a money-dominated game and Sir John always spoke about a “Benevolent billionaire” coming in and taking the club off his hands. Now this has finally happened it seems clear that a history of budget transfers and wages is over, leading to a level of hope and excitement among the fans that hasn’t been seen since the record breaking 106 team. Attendances are up, with the crowd getting behind the team more than ever. Essentially, everyone wants in on the Billionaire Brigade.
With a defence that refuses to concede and the best strike partnership we’ve had in a while, I personally think Reading will win the league
Jimmy Kebe signed a new contract
Kebe is Reading’s best player, a lightning quick Malian gazelle of a man who, when in form, can beat any defender in the league. Back in December, Jimmy wasn’t too bothered. The fans were getting on his back, fellow players were annoyed and Brian McDermott expected him to leave at the end of the season, if not earlier. Then the Russian billionaire turned up and suddenly Jimmy had a whiff of gold. He soon signed a new contract and was back on top form in no time. Money talks and Kebe listened, the speedy greedy git.
Jason Roberts joined on loan
Reading FC have no history of signing well-known or established players. It has only ever been a team that has produced future big names such as Keith Curle, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Robin Friday. Yet when Zingarevich initially purchased the club, Reading were finally able to pay top flight wages and unexpectedly loaned in Jason Roberts, long-term Premiership player and part time media celebrity, a far cry from one time supermarket shelf stacker Dave Kitson. Celebrity aside, Roberts has really performed since coming in, scoring goals and forging a productive partnership with the underrated Noel Hunt up front.
Brian McDermott signed a new contract
When a rich foreign owner takes over a club it can often bring uncertainty. Nervous managers tend to be the first casualty as the new moneyman seeks to bring his vision to the club. Brian McDermott was clearly aware of this and cleverly touted his wares to Wolves, which ultimately led to bagging a new contract for him and his assistant Nigel Gibbs at Reading. Despite losing his best players each season, McDermott has again managed to create a tightly knit over performing squad and now with his future secured can really go about producing a top-flight team.
So basically the honest answer is: Money and lots of it. This extra money has made it possible to retain our best player, bring in a quality signing and spark an excitement around the club not seen for years. Whether Reading are promoted this season or not, things will never be the same again for one of Britain’s oldest clubs. Though, with a defence that refuses to concede and the best strike partnership we’ve had in a while, I personally think Reading will win the league.
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