News and Views

New Signing Vito Mannone Heads To Holland

20 July 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading have signed Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone for two million pounds to replace the outgoing Ali Al Habsi.

The Italian goalkeeper appears to be a straight swap for Al Habsi and comes to Reading with four seasons of Premier League experience with Sunderland. Mannone also made 15 Premier League appearances for Arsenal before moving to Sunderland for 1.5 million pounds in the summer of 2013. He spent eight years at Arsenal, which included loan spells at Hull and Barnsley. He established himself as Sunderland's first choice goalkeeper in the 2013/2014 season but gradually struggled to hold down his place and last season played just 9 League games, with his last outing a 0-4 home defeat at the hands of Southampton.

After signing a three year contract with the Royals, Mannone headed straight to the airport to catch a flight to join his team mates for pre-season in Holland - where he has already been involved in training.

Meanwhile, Dominic Samuel has signed for League One Blackburn Rovers. Samuel threatened several times to break into Reading's first team, but instead found his best success out on loan at Coventry and Gillingham. As Samuel leaves, his Reading record will read as two goals from a total of 16 appearances.

Players In So Far:

  • Vito Mannone (Sunderland)
  • Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Wolves)
  • Pelle Clement (Ajax)

Players Out So Far:

  • Dominic Samuel (Blackburn Rovers)
  • Ali Al Habsi (Al-Hilal)
  • Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town)
  • Niall Keown (Partick Thistle)
  • Zak Jules (Shrewsbury Town)
  • Jack Stacey (Luton Town)
  • Tariqe Fosu (Charlton Athletic)
  • Craig Tanner (Motherwell)
  • Sean Long (Lincoln City)
  • Dominic Hyam (Coventry City)
  • Aaron Kuhl (Out of contract)
  • Stuart Moore (Out of contract)
  • Harrison Bennett (Out of contract)
  • Joe Tupper (Out of contract)
  • Terence Vancooten (Out of contract)
  • Jack Denton (Out of contract)
  • Harry Cardwell (Out of contract)

Players Out On Loan So Far:

  • Danzell Gravenberch (loan to KSV Roeselare)
  • Andrija Novakovich (loan to Telstar)
  • Jonathan Bond (loan to Peterborough)
  • Deniss Rakels (loan to Lech Poznan)

Ali Al Habsi Departure Confirmed

17 July 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading will be continuing their hunt for a new goalkeeper after Ali Al Habsi completed his move to Saudi Arabia, where he has signed a three year contract with Al-Hilal. Al Habsi, who signed a new contract with Reading in the January, used a release clause to return closer to home. He made 91 appearances for the Royals and become a firm fan favourite thanks to his reliable performances. The Royals are left with Anssi Jaakkola and George Legg as possible first team goalkeepers currently with Bond joining Peterborough. Jaakkola made three league cup appearances after signing last summer. 21 year old Legg has been building up experience out on loan. Although Jaakkola may step up to the role Stam will continue to look for a new first choice shot stopper.

Meanwhile, new signing Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has joined the squad out in Holland as their pre-season tour continues. The Icelandic player signs from Wolves on a three year contract after an indifferent season where he struggled to hold down a place in the side. Despite scoring on his debut for Wolves in a League Cup draw at Rotherham, Bodvarsson finished the season with just three goals. He featured in nearly all games but was limited to late appearances from the bench towards the end of the season. It will be interesting to see how he fits in at Reading, and you can't help but feel there may be another striker on the way into the club.

Fellow striker Yann Kermorgant won't be taking part in the pre-season schedule in Holland or back in the UK after a training incident caused an injury to his hip that is expected to see him miss the start of the season. With Reading's top goalscorer having to wait before getting his campaign underway, in what will be his last season before retirement, the pressure will be on Bodvarsson - or another new signing - to find some goalscoring form.

Reading have already used the tour in Holland to test players fitness and try out a lot of the squad, but the results in Saturday's games were disappointing as the Royals went down 0-1 against KV Kortrijk and then drew 2-2 with Genclerbirligi. Stam opted for a very young side against Kortrijk to see which players may be able to make the jump to the first team this season. The draw saw a more experienced side take to the pitch, and Reading had to come from behind twice to draw thanks to goals from Popa and Roy Beerens.

It is the same again for Reading next Saturday, 22 July, as they play two more games on the same day in Holland. The two games will allow Stam to look at almost his entire squad in action across the day.

With so many young players released already this summer the squad is looking thinner than usual. There is a real opportunity for players turning professional, such as Danny Loader, to make a real impression in pre-season as Jaap Stam weighs up his transfer options. It's still early days and plenty more transfer activity is expected between now and the start of the new Championship season.

Players In So Far:

  • Pelle Clement (Ajax)
  • Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Wolves)

Players Out So Far:

  • Ali Al Habsi (Al-Hilal)
  • Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town)
  • Niall Keown (Partick Thistle)
  • Zak Jules (Shrewsbury Town)
  • Jack Stacey (Luton Town)
  • Tariqe Fosu (Charlton Athletic)
  • Craig Tanner (Motherwell)
  • Sean Long (Lincoln City)
  • Dominic Hyam (Coventry City)
  • Aaron Kuhl (Out of contract)
  • Stuart Moore (Out of contract)
  • Harrison Bennett (Out of contract)
  • Joe Tupper (Out of contract)
  • Terence Vancooten (Out of contract)
  • Jack Denton (Out of contract)
  • Harry Cardwell (Out of contract)

Players Out On Loan So Far:

  • Danzell Gravenberch (loan to KSV Roeselare)
  • Andrija Novakovich (loan to Telstar)
  • Jonathan Bond (loan to Peterborough)
  • Deniss Rakels (loan to Lech Poznan)

Stam Extends Contact As Williams Joins Huddersfield

05 July 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

After a year in charge of the Royals, Jaap Stam has signed a new contract that will keep him at the club for a until the summer of 2019. Stam, who had a year left on his existing contract, has been rewarded for a successful first season as club manager with a better deal that gives him a further year at Reading FC. After a couple of season in the wrong half of the Championship table no-one can deny that Stam has got the team to perform well ahead of expectations after he guided them to a 3rd place season in this first season in charge and took us to Wembley Stadium for the play-off final. The play-off final might have been a huge disappointment, but the Royals were just a couple of penalties away from the Premier League.

Stam will be hoping to go one better this season as he already starts to shape his squad for the new campaign. Of course, if the Royals can finish just a single place better in the final table then Stam will be under contract at a Premier League side. Stam has retained his backroom staff, including second in charge Andries Ulderink and first team coach Said Bakkati who joined him when he arrived at the club. If you get the latest sports betting offers, you'll see that Reading are great value to be promoted at 6/1.

After bringing in Dutch players last season, Stam looks set to continue to Dutch revolution at Reading. His first summer signing is Pelle Clement from Stam's former employers, Dutch side Ajax. Clement has signed a three year deal and is described at an attacking midfielder. At just 21, and having come through the Ajax academy, Clement appears to be a very bright prospect. After playing most of the 2015/2016 season for Ajax's second side the Amsterdam born player made the break through to the first team last season, making 4 appearances for the first team.

Meanwhile there has been plenty of outbound activity, mainly involving players that have failed to make an impression on the Reading senior squad last season, but also one big name in the shape of Danny Williams. Williams was out of contract at Reading and failed to negotiate a new deal. He now joins Premier League new boys Huddersfield Town who defeated Reading in the play-off final. Williams joined Reading from Hoffenheim and went on to make 156 appearances over four seasons for the Royals, scoring 14 goals.

Danzell Gravenberch will spend next season on loan at Belgium club KSV Roeselare. Young striker Andrija Novakovich will be pleased with a new contract at Reading after looking like he might break into the first team but never quite making the transition. Novakovich has two more years under contract at Reading to make an impression and has joined Dutch side Telstar for the season.

Goalkeeper Jonathan Bond has slipped down the ranks at Reading, dramatically falling from his position as first choice goalkeeper when he arrived at the club as an England Under 21 international. Bond will remain on Reading's books but has joined League One side Peterborough on a six-month loan. Another player that arrived and become a first team regular was striker Deniss Rakels, but his entire season was destroyed by injury last season. It now seems unlikely he will play for Reading again and has returned to Poland to join Lech Poznan for the season.

William's departure might grab the headlines, but the real story is a huge clear out of young talent that appears to have failed to make the grade at Reading.

Niall Keown is another player that almost made it at Reading, but found himself unable to get into the first team last season. Keown has signed a two year contract at Scottish side Partick Thistle after a successful loan spell there last season, and now leaves Reading permanently. Shrewsbury Town have snapped up defender Zak Jules on a two year contract. Yet another defender out of the door is Jack Stacey who spent last season on loan at Exeter City. Stacey joins League Two team Luton Town - also on a two year deal. Another player with loads of potential who looked like becoming the next big thing for a while is Tariqe Fosu who has joined Charlton Athletic.

Players In So Far:

  • Pelle Clement (Ajax)

Players Out So Far:

  • Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town)
  • Niall Keown (Partick Thistle)
  • Zak Jules (Shrewsbury Town)
  • Jack Stacey (Luton Town)
  • Tariqe Fosu (Charlton Athletic)
  • Craig Tanner (Motherwell)
  • Sean Long (Lincoln City)
  • Dominic Hyam (Coventry City)
  • Aaron Kuhl (Out of contract)
  • Stuart Moore (Out of contract)
  • Harrison Bennett (Out of contract)
  • Joe Tupper (Out of contract)
  • Terence Vancooten (Out of contract)
  • Jack Denton (Out of contract)
  • Harry Cardwell (Out of contract)

Players Out On Loan So Far:

  • Danzell Gravenberch (loan to KSV Roeselare)
  • Andrija Novakovich (loan to Telstar)
  • Jonathan Bond (loan to Peterborough)
  • Deniss Rakels (loan to Lech Poznan)

New Season Fixture List In Full: Royals Face Tough Start

21 June 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading's fixtures for the new 2017/2018 season have been released this morning and see the Royals kick-off with an away trip to QPR on Saturday 5 August. Reading face a tough start to their new Championship campaign with games against Fulham and Aston Villa at home following immediately after.

The end of the season isn't much kinder with games against Fulham, relegated Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Cardiff away to wrap up the season. The trip to Cardiff means that Reading both start the season and end the season playing away from home.

The traditional boxing day game is away at Bristol City this year, with a home game against Burton Albion on 23 December. The games are really packed in over the festive period with a trip to Barnsley on 30 December, followed up by a home game against Birmingham City just two days later on New Years day.

Having narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League after the defeat at Wembley on penalties in the play-off final, Reading might be considered as genuine promotion candidates this season. However, a look down the fixture list shows that promotion out of this league is a very tough job indeed. There are some big names in the Championship aiming for a top two finish - and we will certainly be hoping to avoid the play-offs this season.

Historically Reading always lose in play-off finals - but recently we have followed it up with a successful automatic promotion campaign the following season. For once, we will be hoping history repeats itself. We went up to the Premier League as Champions in 2011/2012 after defeat in the play-off final the season before. The same was true in 2001/2002 when we finished second in Division Two after losing to Walsall in the play-off final the season before.