Each week, Simeon Pickup, journalist, lifelong Royals fan and editor of leading Reading fansite The Tilehurst End will delve into what has gone on at the club over the past seven days to give a view from the supporter base, exclusively for The Wokingham Paper.
By Simeon Pickup –
Reading made an ambitious behind-the-scenes appointment this week by bringing in Ged Roddy to head up the club’s academy, replacing the outgoing Lee Herron.
The graduate of Birmingham and Manchester Universities has been a key figure in English youth development in recent years, having acted as the Premier League’s Director of Football Development from 2009 to 2017.
During that time, he was an architect of the famous ‘EPPP’ system – Elite Player Performance Plan – which revamped the FA’s approach to the progression of young players in this country. Although EPPP has come in for plenty of criticism over the years it’s been in operation, Reading being able to recruit its creator is undeniably a coup.
If the Royals are to cement their reputation as club that churns out high-quality talent, and to further the legacy of the late, great Eamonn Dolan, they need talent to match their ambitions. In Roddy, they certainly have that.
Despite his lack of first-hand coaching experience (which is made up solely of a decade at former non-league side Team Bath FC), Roddy will bring an intellect and level of deep thinking that will help Reading set the academy up for the long run.
None of this is a sign of owners who are disinterested in the football club. Dai Yongge and his sister Dai Xiu Li may have been media shy since taking the reigns last May, but Roddy’s arrival is only the latest in a string of bold moves. Former Manchester United and Chelsea man Ron Gourlay took up the Chief Executive position last summer, with Scott Marshall managing the under-23s since September.
It’s an easy, cheap shot to claim that owners in distant countries are ambivalent about the fortunes of little old Reading FC, but the facts don’t back that up. You can add the significant outlays on summer signings – particularly Sone Aluko – and new contracts for John Swift, Liam Moore, Liam Kelly, and more recently Sam Smith and Tennai Watson, to the weight of evidence that foundations are being laid for the future.
Times may be tough at the moment, and the manager himself may not be in his post for much longer, but the years ahead are looking bright.
Simeon can be found on Twitter @BucksRoyal and his website’s account is @TheTilehurstEnd.