How Reading Royals Must Prepare for Championship Football Next Season
Though it's yet to be mathematically guaranteed, any realist would agree that Reading's short return to the Premier League will end in May.
And as passionate as head coach Nigel Adkins is about positive thinking, he'll eventually have to accept reality as well.
So now that Reading are on their way back to the championship, how must they respond if they want to return to the Premier League sooner rather than later?
They've already taken the first step.
Sacking former manager Brian McDermott and bringing in Coach Adkins this late in the season shows Reading are committed to changing their football philosophy for better or for worse.
How by this time next year can Adkins expect to plan for a serious raise?
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If there's one problem nearly every relegated club faces, it's financial stability.
The drop in income from television contracts alone can cripple a club to the point where it is forced to start a fire sale, and a mass sale of top players creates an obvious deficiency in squad quality. The lack of a strong side could lead to another relegation, so on and so forth.
The only thing relegated clubs have going for them is the series of parachute payments distributed to them. If relegated, Reading will receive £60 million over the course of the next four seasons.
While club owner Anton Zingarevich won't need to be as worried about finances as fellow drop zone candidate Queens Park Rangers, a few reasonable summer sales would makes sense for the club.
For example, Pavel Pogrebnyak, reportedly making as much as £65,000 a week, is an obvious candidate for sale. While his less-than-stellar season may leave Reading with a tough task of searching out a buyer, that money would go a very long way in the championship.
Bring in Players to Fit Change in Philosophy
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When first arriving in the Premier League, head coach Nigel Adkins was noted for his aggressive, attacking football that could prove fruitful, but at its worst could leave the back door wide open (e.g. 6-1 loss at Arsenal).
Reading are a squad built a bit differently than the what Coach Adkins would prefer. Over the summer, he will need to shape the club just the way he likes it to continue his impressive track record in the lower leagues.
One player that would make perfect sense has been purchased by Adkins once before: Southampton's Billy Sharp.
Currently on loan for the season at Nottingham Forest, Sharp would be a deserving candidate to clean up around the goal in the same way Rickie Lambert did for Adkins' Southampton side.
Adkins has put together good sides with less money than he will have at his disposal with Reading, so if Royals fans are able to stay positive through this tough stretch, the summer transfer window may not be all that painful to endure.
Take Note of the Rights and Wrongs of Previously Relegated Clubs
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Bouncing right back up after being relegated from the Premier League is not an impossible task.
Since 2009, Birmingham City, Newcastle, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham have regained promotion in their first season in the championship, and all but Birmingham City stuck in the top flight on their next attempt.
On the flip side of the coin, Portsmouth will be playing football in League Two after being relegated three times in four seasons.
Blackburn and Wolverhampton, relegated from the Premier League last season, are now struggling for survival in the championship, with Wolves only out of the drop zone on goal differential.
The main difference between these clubs is the quality at the executive level.
Poor financial or personnel decisions have doomed many a relegated club, but Reading supporters should not worry about suffering the same fate.
Reading club owner Anton Zingarevich has plenty of money to work with, and up to this point he has made nothing but a positive impact on the club since taking over in May of last year.
While Royals fans may have to deal with a long season in the championship, it very well may be just one season.