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.