Former Reading manager Jose Gomes has revealed he nearly walked away from Berkshire during the 2019 summer window due to his lack of say in the club’s signings during that period, penning a piece on the Coaches’ Voice website.
The 51-year-old, who was manager of the Royals between December 2018 and October of the following year, enjoyed a successful early period with the second-tier side as he was able to drag them away from the relegation zone during the 2018/19 campaign.
The Portuguese head coach’s presence, and the arrival of five loanees in the winter window, were credited with their upturn in the Berkshire outfit’s and there was a renewed sense of optimism at the Select Car Leasing Stadium going into the summer under his stewardship.
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But after two years of heavy spending, they were initially placed under a soft transfer embargo by the EFL, limiting the amount of business they were able to do until later on in the window.
When the restrictions were finally lifted though, they brought in several signings and made two high-profile acquisitions in particular, recruiting Lucas Joao and George Puscas for a combined fee of around £12.5m.
This was a huge amount of money to spend considering the state of their finances from previous windows – and Jose Gomes has since revealed he was on the verge of quitting the club due to the lack of say he had in signings.
He said: “Preparation for the following season did not turn out as I would have liked. After everything that had happened, I expected the board to take my opinion into account, at least a little, in the process of shaping the squad.
“That’s not what happened. I could see the directors’ mistakes, and there was nothing I could do about it. I confess, it was a disheartening situation.
“From that, I learned another fundamental lesson for any coach: the wrong things around us can’t take our focus away from the principal duty, which is taking care of the team.
“I was no longer happy. During pre-season in Marbella, in Spain, we were still without a properly formed squad – we had 15 under-23 players in the group. When I found out about the new signings, without being consulted, I told the board that I was leaving.
“I did not want to be held responsible for mistakes that were not mine. The club had spent money that could have been better invested.
“I was persuaded to stay, with the promise that my suggestions would be heard.”
There are two sides to every story, but the spending spree was a major surprise to many Reading fans due to the amount they spent in previous windows, the EFL’s decision to place the Royals under an embargo in the early stages of the window and the high wage bill the club already had.
This window came after former CEO Ron Gourlay, who enjoyed an extremely unsuccessful spell at the club, had left.
His departure was expected to trigger a change in strategy at the Select Car Leasing Stadium – but the theme of spending only continued further and came back to punish Veljko Paunovic’s side this summer with the strict restrictions they were placed under for breaching profit and sustainability rules.
There were quite a few bright spots from that window. Charlie Adam was a decent short-term signing, Michael Morrison has been an excellent addition on a free transfer, Rafael Cabral came in to be a safe pair of hands between the sticks and the return of Ovie Ejaria on another loan spell was a major boost.
But spending a club-record fee on George Puscas has proved to be nothing short of reckless, in hindsight, and the club will continue to pay for their sizeable expenditure of the past with potential restrictions on new contracts and a likely points deduction on the horizon.