The Wokingham Paper

INTERVIEW: Reading striker Sam Baldock on struggles with Jose Gomes and new lease of life under Mark Bowen

Reading v Millwall Reading score their second goal.

READING forward Sam Baldock admitted that he didn’t believe previous manager Jose Gomes was the right man to take the club forward. 

Baldock endured a difficult time under Gomes and used sporadically by the Portuguese manager who told the striker that he should seek a new club in the summer.

“It was tough, but it wasn’t a surprise come the back end of last season and the off season period, I knew I wasn’t the managers (Gomes) cup of tea for whatever reason- he made that pretty clear,” said Baldock. 

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Jose Gomes was sacked by Reading last month.

“But I waited around to see what would happen and the manager got changed and I’ve been given a lifeline. 

“Even going back to the first game, I had started the game before, but his first game at Millwall I was dropped and he went a different direction.

“I was then injured so I couldn’t prove myself for a large period of time but at the back end of last season I was sitting on the bench knowing that I wasn’t going to come on.

“He was open about it at the end of the season and said to me it was best if I moved on. 

“But having been around and having seen how the team was working, I didn’t entirely think the club was in a massively stable position on the pitch so I thought it would be worth sticking around to see what happens. 

Baldock has scored two in his previous four games.

“I didn’t feel the need to leave a big club such as Reading to force it, because I didn’t necessarily feel that the manager (Gomes) was the right person to take the club forward. 

“Football changes quickly and I’m not going to let one persons opinion define my career and make a hasty decision to go to a club that I don’t want to be at. This is the club I want to be at.” 

The 30-year-old has enjoyed a new lease of life at the Madejski since Mark Bowen was appointed as manager last month, restoring Baldock to the side where he has scored two goals in the previous four matches to help the Royals make an unbeaten start to life under the new boss. 

“Hopefully it’s just the start, I’ve waited patiently to get back. I can’t rest on my laurels, I’ve got to kick on and perform every weekend,” continued Baldock.

“He (Bowen) has changed the mindset, I think as a club we’ve been too passive over the last few years and it’s been too easy to come to our place and win. 

Mark Bowen and his assistant manager Eddie Niedzwiecki.
Mark Bowen and his assistant manager Eddie Niedzwiecki.

“He wants us to be physical, he wants us to be aggressive and win the second balls. 

“Training has been very competitive, it’s a lot sharper than it has been so you don’t know who’s going to be in the team come the weekend. There are a lot of healthy rivalries. 

“I’ve always been a tenacious forward and I like to wind defenders up in the hope that they might lose their cool and make rash decisions where I can exploit the space in behind.

“You’ve got to contribute as a striker, if that’s not scoring goals then you need to be creating chances and giving maximum effort. We’ve certainly got plenty of strikers chomping at the bit to get their opportunity. 

Reading v Luton Town

Baldock described the joy of scoring against Millwall in front of his 18-month-old son and the enjoyment of playing with a talented squad of players.

“The goal against Millwall was a really special one for me because it was my boys first game. He’s only 18 months old, he came to the game so I was able to go and celebrate towards him even though I’m not sure he knew what was going on. 

“He’s been running round shouting ‘goal’ whenever he sees football on the telly.
“When you’ve got such creative players behind you like Ovie and Swifty and with the wing backs creating a lot of crossing positions, it’s exciting times to be a striker. 

“We’ve shown in the last games we’ve been dominant, the Championship is a tough division and you have to be at it every game. We’ve got the ability to do it against any team.”

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