After their 2-0 defeat to Southampton, Reading look consigned to relegation.
The sacking of Brian McDermott shocked and appalled many, and the timing seemed all wrong. Since Adkins took charge they have extended their losing streak to eight games in all competitions. The ex-Southampton manager was always going to struggle, just like his predecessor, simply because the Royals team is not good enough.
Adkins decision to take the hot-seat at the Madjeski appears strange unless he has been assured money to spend in the summer by Russian owner Anton Zingarevich. His new team were comprehensively outplayed by his old team, although the former physio-turned-manager is not giving up.
"There are two options - you can either hide away or face up to reality and look forward to what you have to do," Adkins told the BBC.
"You can't throw the towel in. You have to get up and go again."
The truth is, while Southampton broke their transfer record to sign Jay Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez, as well as bringing in the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Artur Boruc, and Maya Yoshida, Reading signed Pavel Pogrebnyak, after six good games at Fulham, and a bunch of players who are Championship quality at best. Hope Akpan, Adrian Mariappa and Sean Morrison are solid players who will put in 100% effort, but are simply not up to the required standard in the Premier League.
On form, these players can just about hold their own, as shown by Adam Le Fondre’s run of late point-winning strikes in December and January. However, the goals have dried up for the former Rotherham striker and like his teammates, Le Fondre is struggling.
A more clinical striker would have put away the guilt-edged chance that Le Fondre volleyed over the bar with the score still 0-0 on Saturday. If Reading had taken the lead it may have given them the lift to go on and get something from the game. As it was, that miss ended Reading’s early dominance, and from that point on there was only one winner.
Reading are eight points from safety and are one of three teams – Stoke and Sunderland being the others – who look unable to win matches. The greater concern for Adkins and the Reading fans is that this side at the moment does not look like it has the quality to bounce back at the first attempt – indeed it took a fantastic run in the second half of the season for McDermott’s side to win promotion, and with teams like Leicester, a resurgent Nottingham Forest, Brighton, Crystal Palace, Watford and many others battling at the top of the Championship, Reading could be set for an extended stay in England’s second division.
Adkins might rue taking the first job he was offered, but he may have been made promises for the summer that we are currently unaware of. He did a remarkable job at Southampton and if money is made available, Adkins has shown he can spend wisely. However, all the coaching talent in the world will not save Reading this season.
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