Leaving Reading is No Good

Steve Coppell has never liked the ‘big time Charlie’s’ at any football club he has managed, he prefers players with the right attitude and the right work ethic to produce results. Therefore, it has come as no surprise that the players that have departed Reading of late have been having a pitiful time.

This should go out as an omen to their current players like Stephen Hunt, Kevin Doyle, and James Harper that they may never have it any better anywhere else.

Dave Kitson moved to Stoke City with the hefty price tag of £5.5 million and been implied by Tony Pulis that he is their main striker. He has failed to score in any game he has played and is often ruthlessly taken off for Ricardo Fuller after the hour mark.

For Reading, he scored an impressive 54 league goals in 135 appearances and began a blissful cult hero status amongst the Reading faithful. Cries of ‘David Kitson: What a bargain’ often the focal cry as Coppell snapped him up for a mere £150,000 from Cambridge United back in 2003.

At present, he does not seem to fill the criteria that Tony Pulis was looking for. Stoke are built up with very tall players as they rely on Rory Delap’s unconventional long throw to secure them points. Kitson likes to play football and be involved and with Stoke not being able to do that his ability is exhaustedly limited.

Dave Kitson has even admitted recently that he is constantly fed up with making the travel back and forth to the north and it has only been a matter of months, not to forget he cannot drive at the moment.

If Kitson had stayed at Reading, championship football betting would have backed him to be in great form and be scoring plenty just as Doyle has been doing. Maybe the shrewd Coppell saw what was going on and managed to get rid of a player on the downhill sooner rather than later. His current teammate, Ibrahima Sonko has not been having the best of times and it is remarkable that he has been regarded as a valuable Premiership footballer.

Whilst in the championship in Reading’s promotion season Sonko was regarded as one of the best central defenders in the division and was touted with moves to Manchester City and Aston Villa but for the first time, he was tested by decent strikers he was found wandering. After he was injured against Sheffield United in the first season in the Premiership, he has not been the same player by any means.

The cries of ‘Sonko is Superman’ that profoundly rippled throughout the Coca-Cola Championship League season soon became few and far between.

Some smart arse decided to print t-shirts with that very slogan embedded upon it, it symbolised a 1970’s deprived excuse for fashion as it went around the fans quicker than the plague.

Sonko’s two goals against Plymouth this season gave some indication that his presences maybe needed but after his shambolic performance against a woeful Charlton team, it was obvious that he was not needed.

At Stoke, he is achieving minimal success and as Pulis likes his big men, Sonko adds to that representation. He may be in the Premiership but he is no way a Premiership player. Many lessons will have been learnt that he was exploited too easily and that will come apparent again as the season draws on.

Glen Little was possibly, the most surprising transfer as he left on a ‘Bosman’ as he deprived Reading of his talents to find if he can fend well at Portsmouth. Many Reading fans blew cold to his departure as the club helped him back to health after a serious achilles injury that limited his appearances and influence last season.

He packed his bags and left to play reserve team football. Can I add that those players who play reserve team football are those considered not good enough for the actual first team squad or those who are too young to break into that squad?

As Portsmouth suffers an uncertain start to their prevailing European season, Little does not appear regularly nor even mentioned amongst the Pompey faithful.

Glen Little was always the one player that sent the crowd into a wave of mad impulses as his 14 assists (highest in the league 2005/06 season) and five goals contributed massively in their 106 points and 99 goals promotion to the Premier League. In Reading’s first Premiership season he sent many of the world’s best left backs into remission and leaving for Portsmouth has done him no favours at all.

Jimmy Kebe has fortunately stepped up and been playing quite well, so far. Little, being 33 years of age, surely would have wanted to be playing first team football but hey, ‘Blakey’ may be on the buses sooner rather than later as a loan spell beckons.

Arguably Reading’s best player of the recent era, Nicky Shorey, took the plunge and joined Aston Villa as he searched for pastures new this summer. Shorey has only contributed to a handful of games and is struggling to hold down a first team place. He was brought in as cover for Wilfred Bouma and even with him out injured until the new year Shorey still has struggled to make that left back spot his own.

Under Steve Coppell’s guidance, Nicky Shorey made his England debut against Brazil and then played the following game against Germany before being thrown into the international wilderness by the new England boss Fabio Capello.

Fair enough, Shorey is playing European football and gaining a fatter pay packet. But technically, he has become a worse player. Aston Villa are not using his ability for set pieces and as the ex-Leyton Orient man is not a run-of-the-mill attacking full back he needs to be involved with the passing aspect of any counter attack and that is not Villa’s style.

In a team full of pace and energy, Shorey does not fill the criteria. You can tell at the end of last season his head was not for Reading and that an extremely woeful performance against Tottenham sealed his premature faint.

Steve Sidwell had left Reading to move on to supposedly bigger and better things over a year ago. He was one of Jose Mourinho’s free captures and looked to star under the then Chelsea manager. However, Mourinho left in dramatic fashion with controversy hanging high and Steve Sidwell was swiftly bombed into the reserves under new manager Avram Grant. His move to Aston Villa, along with Shorey, seemed to be a blessing until injuries have set him back.

Will Sidwell be able to get into the Aston Villa team when he returns from injury, as Nigel Reo-Coker, Stilian Petrov, and Gareth Barry have their places pretty much secured.

Even for Sidwell, a call up for the England squad beckoned but now he would have no chance. He needs to be playing regular first team football; and even new signing, James Milner has only been a fringe player for Villa so far and has not justified his massive transfer fee.

Fringes players for Reading like Seol Ki-Hyeon left to join Fulham for better first team opportunities but his chances have been even more limited.

Other players that have left Reading

John Oster to Crystal Palace and Chris Makin left straight after the promotion season and spent two years wasting away in the Southampton reserves.

John Halls has now dropped to League Two and playing his trade for Brentford after spending most of his Reading career on loan to other Championship clubs.

Graham Stack is now covering goal for Plymouth Argyle as he took over from jail bound Luke McCormick as the number one spot, again after spending numerous amounts of time on loan to other Championship clubs.

Simon Cox has been scoring some goals at Swindon; and Greg Halford has been passed around quicker than a hot potato.

Other remaining departed squad members have not been doing particularly well include Darren Campbell who plays for Fleet Town; Jonathan Hayes went to Leicester City but now makes cameo appearances for lesser League One clubs. Dean Morgan is on loan at Leyton Orient from Luton Town, Jamie Young still remains a reserve figure at Wycombe Wanderers, Johnny Mullins went to Mansfield before moving on to Stockport County, and Curtis Osano is now plying his trade for Rushden and Diamonds.

Simieon Howell and Peter Castle have given up on playing professional football altogether, it seems.
This just proves being in ‘a team of little fish’ with no stars provides wonders, but having that same ‘little fish’ moving to a bigger pond proves that they cannot swim.

Former Newcastle United Striker Antoine Sibierski Signs For Norwich City

With the transfer window slamming shut yesterday, there were many deals going through involving Championship clubs. One of the highest profile players to be arriving to play in England’s second tier is former Manchester City player Antoine Sibierski who has signed on loan for Glenn Roeder’s Norwich City.

The Canaries have been in desperate need for a striker with a physical presence. Darrel Russell – who normally operates in midfield – has been forced to move up front in recent weeks to partner either Jamie Cureton or Arturo Lupoli. Now that Antoine Sibierski has arrived, the Norwich fans will be hoping they can pick up their first win of the season against Plymouth Argyle in their next game.

So what type of player are Norwich getting? Well, as with any 34-year-old moving down a division, he will bring experience to what is a relatively young Norwich squad. He will also provide Glenn Roeder with the ‘target man’ he has been craving since the departure of Dion Dublin at the end of last season. It is the second time Glenn Roeder has signed the Frenchman, he brought him to Newcastle United on transfer deadline day in August 2006.

In terms of some other moves involving Championship clubs yesterday, there were two others that stood out to me. Blackpool have made a good loan signing by securing Rangers midfielder Alan Gow until January. The 25-year-old – who could sign permanently in January – is an attacking midfielder and should excel in the Championship.

Then there is departure of Coventry midfielder Julian Gray to Premier League side Fulham. This is a strange transfer really and I’m not sure why a loan deal was agreed as opposed to a permanent transfer. Regardless though, it will be a huge loss for Chris Coleman at Coventry. He is one of their better players and considering they have lost their last two games, it isn’t ideal that he is leaving. They will be searching for a replacement in the loan market I’m sure.

One of the most significant factors of the whole transfer window though, in my view, is that fact that Reading have managed to hold onto prize assets Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt. With reference to Championship football odds, they remain one of the promotion favourites having kept these two players.

As ever, it will be interesting to see how the players that have moved to the Championship – such as Antoine Sibierski – will adapt to playing in what is a very physical and competitive league.

John Madejski complains of ridiculous footballers wages

John Madejski complains of ridiculous footballers wages
John Madejski complains of ridiculous footballers wages

Self-made millionaire and Reading chairman John Madejski has once again stated his disproval of players wages. He told BBC Radio Berkshire they were “obscene in the extreme”.

He is adamant not to pay over-inflated wages to attract new signings to the club, in the quest to seek automatic promotion back to the Premier League.

Adding a certain balance to his bold statement, he went on to say:

“I’m pleased they get good salaries – that’s only right – but it’s gone off the Richter scale.”

I visited the Madejski Stadium before Reading were promoted to the Premier League and was impressed with the staduim. Alot of work and money has been pumped into the club and much of their financial stabilty has been put in place by John Madejski’s calm and resonable financial judgement.

Madejski explained the difference between the Premiership and being a Championship football uk team is a £22m deficit and Reading now face the problem of retaining a large squad of players.

He said Reading have tried to do what they can with a solid business model, but even selling a whopping 14,000 season tickets is not as fantastic as it seems, compared to last season.

In these times of outrageous footballer wages, television money and foreign billionaires using English football as a play thing, I like John Madejski’s honest and sensible approach to running a football team with a good manager that plays exciting football.

John Madejski has commercial interests in property, media, hotels, restaurants, publishing and football. According to The Sunday Times Rich List 2007 he is in the top 200 wealthiest people in the UK with a net worth in the region of £400 million.

Derby Must Be Favourites For Promotion To The Premier League

With the start of the Championship season less than three weeks away, there is much discussion as to who will be fighting for promotion this time around. As ever, you would be brave to bet on Championship football, given the unpredictability of the last couple of seasons. However, one team who are almost certain to be there or there abouts are Derby County.

That is my opinion anyway. It is never easy to bounce straight back to the Premier League, but the amount of signings Paul Jewell has made cannot go unnoticed. The have brought in Martin Albrechsten, Kris Commons, Rob Hulse, Nathan Ellington, Przemyslaw Kazmierczak, Jordan Stewart, Ruben Zadkovich, Paul Green, Liam Dickinson, Paul Connolly and Steve Davies. They also have former Reading midfielder John Oster on trial and are by far the busiest team in the Championship this summer.

Considering these players are being added to a squad which already contains players such as Giles Barnes, Robbie Savage, Gary Teale and Emanuel Villa – Paul Jewell is certainly putting together a strong set of players. The former Wigan boss has admitted that he wants at least two players fighting for each position. If this becomes a reality – like it is shaping up to be – the biggest challenge for Jewell will be keeping all of his players happy.

After the abysmal attempt at Premier League survival last time around, a good start to the season is crucial for Derby. They start with games against Doncaster, Bristol City, Southampton and Barnsley, meaning they will fancy their chances of topping the table come the end of August to ignite their promotion push.

So, who else will push Derby for promotion? Well, Reading and Birmingham will be fighting it out for an instant return. However, in my view, Birmingham are extremely unpredictable and Reading, having lost Dave Kitson and John Oster could struggle early on. A lot will depend on who they buy with the £5.5m they received for Kitson from Stoke.

Elsewhere, I think that Sheffield United will be strong. They finished the season excellently and will look to continue this at the beginning of this season under Ian Blackwell. Greg Halford and Sun Jihai have been brought in and I expect them to occupy a play-off spot.

Then, of course, there is the likes of Wolves, Watford, Bristol City and Crystal Palace that will be looking to go one better after just missing out last season. It is set to be another fascinating season that’s for sure. Bring on the 9th August.