Nigel Adkins – Does This Signal A New Era For The Royals?

Not many mangers boast such an excellent CV like the one Nigel Adkins possesses. Adkins managed two promotions with a Scunthorpe side obtaining 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 is 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.

Nigel Adkins

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.

Reading’s 2012-13 Premier League campaign; what does Zingarevich’s takeover mean?

Newly-promoted Reading have recently announced that Thames Sports Investment has completed a 51 per cent buyout of the club. The new owners, led by Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich, are rumoured to be ready to spend the required revenue to help the Royals compete in the English top-flight, and ensure their return to the big time is not on a temporary basis. Despite this, the acquisition brings an end to John Madejski’s 22-year reign as proprietor of the club – so what can Reading fans expect from their new owners?

Although the deal for TSI and Zingarevich to take over the club was only made official on Tuesday, the takeover has been in the offing for quite some time now. The eastern European entrepreneur had agreed to buy the leading stake in the club back in January, with a deal also being on the brink of occurring in March. However, with Reading’s promotion push, eventual Championship title win and football litigation and red tape, the deal is only being completed now.

Fans of the outfit will be pleased to know that Madejski will remain in a senior capacity within the club, and now assumes the role of chairman, despite Zingarevich, Christopher Samuelson, Andrew Obolensky and chief executive Nigel Howe all taking their places on the Royals board. Any takeover can take time to work, so the fact that the previous owner and Ian Wood-Smith still have roles to play will ensure that the club are not starting afresh.

Speculation in the press has indicated that Reading boss Brian McDermott will be given a £15 million transfer kitty this summer to add quality to his squad, which would be more than welcome in the side’s quest to stay in the Premier League. It is believed that Zingarevich is also formulating a long-term plan for the club, with the stadium capacity and upgrades into the academy and training facilities also high on the businessman’s list.

For a football club owner Zingarevich is very young at 30 years old. The Russian is the son of a billionaire paper tycoon and as such is expected to have the finances to back the club’s Premier League ambitions. He paid £25 million for the 51 per cent share of Reading, which shows his intent to spend money. Of his fellow Thames Sports Investment colleagues, new board members Samuelson and Obolensky are financial experts, and will have the role of making sure that Reading can spend money when needed but not live beyond their means.

Despite the fact that he is losing full control of the club that he loves, Madejski has confirmed that the takeover will allow the club to progress without changing the principles and procedures that he has taken the time to put in place.

“It is the end of one era, but the start of another,” the 71-year-old entrepreneur admitted after the takeover.

“It’s exciting times. Now we can really start getting on with things – it’s great. The club will be run in the same way and it’s business as usual.

“It feels great getting this done having been here for 22 years and coming from Elm Park. However, it’s not about me, it’s about the club and all the people who work here and support Reading.

“I’m delighted to be staying on as chairman and I’ll be doing that until at least 2014.”

Newly-promoted clubs have a real job on their hands to stay in the English top flight, but if Zingarevich is smart and wants the club to remain where they are, he will back his manager financially and leaves major decisions down to football men. Swansea and Norwich will act as inspiration for Reading in their survival bid, with McDermott keeping the core of the team that got them to the Premier League. Despite this, the club now have added investment that the likes of West Ham and Southampton, and some existing Premier League clubs, are likely to do without. One thing is for sure; it is an exciting time to be a Reading fan.

Published – Soccerlens

West Ham, Southampton and Reading: Survival is the name of the game

Over the last few seasons teams coming into the Premier League from the Championship have been more successful in avoiding relegation in their first season. QPR, Norwich and Swansea all survived this season, whilst the likes of Stoke, West Brom and Wigan have now established themselves as top-flight teams. So what do the three teams that are joining this season need to do to survive?


Reading are returning to the big time after relegation in 2008. There are many similarities though between this team and the one that finished eighth in their first season in the Premiership in 2006-2007. Just like that team there are no real big stars and Reading’s success comes from their solid shape, organisation and ability to counter attack.  They have experience at the back in the shape of former Leeds man Ian Harte and Kaspars Gorkss, Exciting wingers in Jobi McAnuff and Jimmy Kebe and hardworking strikers in Jason Roberts and Noel Hunt.

The one different factor which may aid Reading’s survival chances this time is the backing of wealthy Russian Anton Zingarevich who recently bought 51% of the club. Certainly Reading will need to spend and add some Premier League experience and a proven goal scorer at the top level to the solid base that they already have.


The Saints last couple of seasons are very similar to that of Norwich City. From struggling in League One Nigel Adkins has secured back-to-back promotions to the Premier League just Like Paul Lambert did at Carrow Road. This has been achieved by having a prolific goal scorer at Football League level in Rickie Lambert just like Norwich has Grant Holt.

Much like Reading their success in the Championship was built on a solid defensive unit marshalled by Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld with the experienced Kelvin Davis in goal. Dean Hammond provides a good base in front of the back four, which allows the likes of Lambert, Adam Lallana and Billy Sharp to concentrate on scoring goals. With their current squad Southampton have a good chance of survival but much like Reading some more Premier League experience and strength in depth is required to give them an even better chance.

West Ham

Everyone’s favourites to bounce straight back up did it the hard way after a 2-1 play-off final victory over Blackpool. They are a side that is already packed with Premiership and international experience with the likes of Winston Reid, Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Carlton Cole to name just a few. Despite scoring 81 goals last season ,which was the second highest in the division, a prolific striker is still needed as they created so many chances to win games which they drew in the Championship.

West Ham also have an advantage by having the experienced Sam Allardyce in charge. Allardyce has been there and done it with both Bolton and Blackburn, making Bolton a stable Premier League club and also taking Blackburn to a comfortable mid table position. Whilst many of the West Ham fans may not like the style of football that Allardyce plays, they cannot argue that it gets results and his meticulous planning may be what keeps West Ham afloat next season.

All three teams will have to spend to survive, with greater strength in depth being an issue for all three to cope with the rigours and pace of the top division. With three managers though who are very tactically astute and some exciting forward players Reading, Southampton and West Ham all have a great chance of making an impact in the Premier League next season.

By Chris Newman

Can Brendan Rodgers’ appointment restore Liverpool’s former glory?

It has been two very different seasons for managers Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers, with a disappointing eighth place finish for the Anfield outfit – scraping silverware in the Carling Cup – whilst the Swans of South Wales have comfortably survived their first year of Premier League football. However, the 39 year-old Northern Irishman will face one of his biggest challenges yet as the new Liverpool manager.

Brendan Rodgers has had a fantastic year, managing Swansea City, and no one could have predicted the outcome of their first season in top-flight football since 1983.  Swansea caused many upsets against the big teams including wins over Manchester City, Arsenal and a 1-0 defeat of Liverpool on the last day of the season. Often called “The Welsh Barcelona”, due to their unique approach to possession football, not to mention Leon Britton, who is Europe’s most accurate passer above both Xavi and Andres Iniesta; Rodgers has developed a style of football based on starving the opposition of possession, relieving pressure with the ball, and sustaining patient build-up play until forwards, Danny Graham, Scott Sinclair, and Nathan Dyer, can produce something special in the final third.

As for the move to Liverpool, you can see why American owner John Henry has appointed Rodgers as the new manager, despite considering the options of Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Martinez and Fabio Capello. When it comes to developing young British talent, Rodgers is the man you want. Starting as a youth team coach for Reading, and then moving to manage the youth team at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, Rodgers will be able to bring the best out of the Liverpool youngsters who have endured a below par season including Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll – the collective sum of around £50m.

As well as his experience in coaching youth players, Liverpool fans will be wondering if Rodgers will implement his entertaining brand of passing football into the Liverpool game, and if he will bring players over from his former Welsh side. 23 year-old Scott Sinclair, homegrown Joe Allen, and Icelandic superstar Gylfi Sigurdsson – who has not yet officially signed for Swansea after agreeing a fee of £6.8m – could be favourites to make a move considering Liverpool’s problems in midfield. The former Reading and Watford manager will bring with him first-team coach Colin Pascoe, match-analyst Chris Davies and conditioning expert Glen Driscoll to help him in his new start at Anfield.

On the other hand, it will be Rodgers’ first experience of managing a top-class team and their progress in Europe next season will be a real test of the Northern Irish manager’s ability not only to play in the Premier League, but to battle and win the Europa League. Unlike any club he has managed before, Rodgers will have to deal with big personalities such as Merseyside legend Steven Gerrard, and the controversial Luis Suarez.

To conclude, there is no doubt that Brendan Rodgers will be paramount to fixing the errors and mishaps of an unsatisfactory and forgettable season for Liverpool. He will have much to write about in his little notebook this summer and will hope to capitalise on a bigger budget than he’s ever had before. He might be praying that he doesn’t end up being just another Kop flop.

By Jacob Tucker

Drogba, Berbatov and the Premier League strikers up for grabs this summer

With the big clubs looking to strengthen their squads for 2012-13, there is a likelihood that a number of fringe players will be sold on. Here are six Premier League strikers likely to be looking for a new club this summer.

Edin Dzeko

Although experiencing a great start to the 2011-2012 season, scoring seven goals in the first four matches for the Blues, a year spent in the shadow of Argentine team-mate Sergio Aguero has been disappointing for the Bosnian hit-man. Already proving himself as a dangerous Premier League forward, Dzeko will look for new ground come next season and with another big-money forward likely to join Roberto Mancini’s men in the summer, the £27 million forward will want to get first-team football elsewhere and there are many clubs that will want him.

Dimitar Berbatov

It has been a strange season at Old Trafford for the Bulgarian forward, who has experienced a game drought at the beginning of the season, a fantastic December – scoring six goals in three games – and a disappointing finish. The Manchester United outcast will want to find a new club next year after demonstrating his ability when he has had the chance. Valued at around £10 million, the 31-year-old forward would be a great signing for any club in need of a goal-hungry poacher. Although known for his laziness, there is no doubt that many sides will want him come the summer.

Marouane Chamakh

For Marouane Chamakh it has been an awful season, scoring only one goal in 21 appearances for the north London outfit, and although signing on a free transfer from Bordeaux in 2010, the Moroccan forward has been a big disappointment. With the signing of Lucas Podolski, there will be no space for the target man in Arsene Wenger’s plans and it is possible he could make a move back to France very soon. The Premier League has proved to be just too much of a challenge for the 28-year-old striker, who will be frustrated with his unhappy time at Arsenal.

Jermain Defoe

Super sub Jermain Defoe, much like the others mentioned, has had a year spent watching from the sidelines, as Manchester City loanee Emmanuel Adebayor has led Tottenham’s front-line this season. The unsettled 29-year-old has been linked to a £10 million move to Anfield and has also been connected with a transfer to promoted side Reading. Although Harry Redknapp is keen to keep him at Tottenham in the summer, Defoe is dying for first-team football and there will be a number of new options for him if Spurs are willing to sell.

Didier Drogba

With an expiring contract in the summer, 34-year-old Didier Drogba is set to make a departure from his beloved Stamford Bridge after eight years of dedicated service. Scoring vital goals in the cup competitions this season, the Ivorian target man will play a vital role in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich and will be intent on having a last surge for European glory. It is rumoured that Drogba could make a mover to either Shanghai Shenhua – to join former teammate Nicolas Anelka – or possibly back to former club Marseille if a contract extension of two years is not offered by the Blues.

Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt has been a loyal servant at Anfield since signing in 2006 and has proved a important player for King Kenny’s side this term, scoring the equaliser in the extra time of the Carling Cup final and leading them on to win on penalties. There has been much speculation over a return to Dutch side Feyenoord, after admitting that he wants to go back, but for the 31 year-old the deal would be now or never and with a Liverpool team on decline, it looks like the Dutchman is set to make a return to Rotterdam.

By Jacob Tucker

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