Nigel Adkins – Does this signal a new era for Reading?
Not many mangers boast an excellent CV like the one Nigel Adkins possesses. Adkins managed two promotions with a Scunthorpe side with little resources, winning the title in the 2006-07 season to get the Irons into the Championship from League One, and also winning the 2008-09 League One play-off final to reach the second tier of English football for a second time. This was seen as a major achievement for the Birkenhead-born manager, who was originally a physiotherapist at Scunthorpe, but was promoted to take the managerial role.
Having made a name for himself at Scunthorpe, Adkins left the club in 2010 to join the then League One side Southampton. It was here where Adkins continued to show the footballing world his managerial pedigree, bringing high tempo, attacking football to St Marys, something that was not so prevalent when Pardew was the manager prior to Adkins’ arrival. Adkins managed to bring successive promotions to the Saints, going up in his first season at the club from League One to the Championship. In his second season in charge in the Championship, Adkins managed to make Southampton one of the standout teams in the league, with dynamic displays of attacking, possession based football. Adkins achieved a second-place finish, only to be tipped to the title by Reading, ironically.
After a somewhat inconsistent start to Premier League life, Adkins was sacked and replaced by Mauricio Pochettino in his maiden season in the top flight. This was met by outrage from a large proportion of the Southampton faithful, and the club’s owner Nicola Cortese received widespread criticism. However, Saints fans have started to come to terms with the loss, as Pochettino seems to be proving his worth in the Premier League.
Adkins has now joined Reading, after the departure of Brian McDermott, who was highly respected and adored by Reading fans. The sacking of McDermott was somewhat reminiscent of Adkins’ dismissal at Southampton. The arrival of Adkins sparks a new period for the club, a time to move on. Adkins will bring a fresh set of ideas to a struggling Reading side, who are lingering perilously near the bottom of the table. Adkins desire to play attacking, possession based football is something Reading fans will no doubt be happy with. It will take time, of course, but his ideology of implementing a footballing style based around ball retention has been clear to see.
Adkins, alongside a wealthy owner, has proven he can attract top young talent from European clubs, with the signing of Uruguayan Gaston Ramirez from Bologna. Adkins will be alongside another wealthy owner, in the form of the Russian Anton Zingarevich, who has promised the manager there will be a sizable transfer budget. His willingness to bring youth players who he deems good enough into senior side reaped dividends for him at Southampton, most notably the inclusion of James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw in many Premier League games. Football fans like to see home-grown youth talent given a chance to play on the big stage, and Adkins will provide opportunities for these players, allowing for young individuals to develop and mature as footballers.
This appointment isn’t a sidewards step, a mentality of which some Reading fans acquire. This is a step forward. A step forward to a better Reading, his love for football is evident to see.
Progress is impossible without change.