Having signed seven players in the summer transfer window and with others expected to follow, Royals fans will be hoping better times lie ahead under the permanent guidance of Paul Ince.
The former England and Manchester United midfielder arrived at the club at the back end of last season and managed to keep Reading in the Championship against all odds when relegation looked almost a certainty.
And as a reward for his gallant efforts, the former Blackpool, Blackburn and MK Dons boss was named permanent Royals manager in the summer.
But with the club still the subject of a transfer embargo, he will have his work cut out if he is to avoid another relegation dogfight on the eve of a new season, which gets underway at Blackpool on Saturday.
“At the time, I wasn’t overly keen nor overly against Ince’s appointment,” Talk Reading tells FansBet.
“The most important thing was that the decision on who will be taking the club forward was made very early in the summer.
“Paul Ince has since implemented a new style and made some impressive signings, so I’m definitely feeling better about it now than in May.”
The Royals have made seven signings so far this summer with the arrivals of Tom Ince, Shane Long, Sam Hutchinson, Dean Bouzanis, Jeff Hendrick, Joe Lumley, and Tyrese Fornah.
But the manager says he still wants a fair few more to bolster his squad for the new season with FC Porto midfielder Mamadou Loum and former Huddersfield defender Naby Sarr also expected to arrive in the coming days.
This is despite the EFL club having been under a transfer embargo since July 2021 for breaching profit and sustainability rules – meaning they can currently only sign free agents or players on loan to one-year contracts.
“When you can’t spent money on transfer fees, have an enforced average wage cap and all your deals have to be ratified by the EFL, so it’s going to be tough,” says Talk Reading.
“However, all things considered, Reading have had a relatively strong transfer window.
“Ince showed last season that he’s a good player at this level, Hendrick has years of Premier League experience, Hutchinson has looked class in pre-season and the homecoming of Long has given the whole club a much-needed boost.
“The imminent signings of Loum and Sarr are fantastic additions as well.
“We still need a couple more bodies, most urgently a left-back, but the squad is shaping up nicely.”
Reading may have welcomed a raft of new players in the summer, but they have also waved goodbye to no fewer than 12 squad members as the overhaul continues under Ince.
Star midfielder John Swift confirmed his exit from Berkshire after sealing a move to rivals West Bromwich Albion with the Royals’ top scorer for 2021/22 leaving on a free after his contract expired.
Also departing RG2 were midfielder Josh Laurent, who leaves to join Stoke City, and Andy Rinomhota on a free after making 150 appearances for the Royals.
“Losing Swift, Rinomhota and Laurent has been a big blow, but not particularly surprising,” explains Talk Reading.
“All three are very decent Championship players, with Swift being one of the very best at this level.
“Rinomhota and Laurent are probably more easily replaced and signing Fornah, Hendrick and Loum will go a long way to filling that void.
“Swift, on the other hand, can’t be replaced as Reading are in no position to bring in a player of his quality and output.”
Ince has claimed he needs “characters who are going to fight” if his side is to survive in the Championship again this season.
One of his main concerns has been at the back with Reading conceding 87 goals last season, a problem that Ince has attempted to resolve by switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation for much of pre-season.
“Ovie Ejaria looks as though he will be given a go centrally, which is exciting as he seems much more effective there, but I can’t see him contributing the number of goals and assists Swift did last season,” says Talk Reading.
“There is currently a gaping hole in the left side of the defence, so a left-back or a specialist left-wing-back will be needed if Ince is to go forward with the three at the back formation.
“Other than that, it would be nice to have another player that can operate in the no. 10 role.”
Such a high-profile figure as Paul Ince is bound to attract attention at this level and the 54-year-old will be keen to impress after disappointing spells in previous managerial roles.
But Royals fans are under no illusions as to what the coming campaign has in store as the club looks to avoid dropping into the third tier of English football for the first time in over 20-years.
“I think if you look at the quality that Reading has, there are definitely three worse sides than us,” reveals Talk Reading.
“If we can get 30 plus games out of Lucas João and Yakou Méïté then we will be absolutely fine.
“It won’t be a smooth ride, however.”
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