Reading interim manager Paul Ince has said he needs the club to agree on the way he wants to structure the club if he is to take up the permanent role at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, speaking to rdg.today.
The 54-year-old first arrived in Berkshire back in February, managing to get the points needed to get the Royals over the line as they secured their Championship safety for another season, something that could be seen as a miracle considering how doomed they looked under predecessor Veljko Paunovic.
However, next term looks set to be even tougher for the Royals with several key players out of contract and the club limited in what they can offer them due to the tight financial restrictions of the business plan they agreed with the EFL last year.
Quiz: Which club did Reading FC sign these 24 players from in the 1990s?
With this, there could be a mass exodus in the coming months and this leaves Ince or his potential successor with a huge amount of work to do in the Berkshire club’s quest to be competitive during the 2022/23 campaign.
The former England international’s task will be made even harder without a Director of Football in place at the Select Car Leasing Stadium – and he hasn’t even been able to start preparations for the summer because his future is uncertain at this stage.
One thing that is certain though is the fact Ince wants to make big changes at the club if he does win the top job on a longer-term basis – and identified a non-negotiable as he prepares for talks with owner Dai Yongge regarding his future.
He said: “The club has to agree on the same path I do with structure.
“Next year will be tough with the embargo and all the players out of contract. There’s a lot of work in the summer before pre-season starts.
“Things have to be put into plan quickly. If there’s a culture and siege mentality it will be fine but I will address that once I know what I’m doing.”
A Director of Football simply has to be in place this summer if they want to be successful because that will help to take the pressure off Ince at the start of pre-season and beyond that when he needs to focus on his existing players.
The ex-Liverpool man’s task will be too difficult if he doesn’t have that man in place – and this is where owner Mr Dai needs to step up to the plate and sanction an appointment with someone like Brian McDermott potentially suited to that role.
Not only does McDermott know the club inside out as previous – but he has experience of scouting, managing the reserve team and being a head coach and that must have given him an idea of how a football club should be run.
If the off-field situation improves, then things on the pitch are likely to start picking up too. Things won’t improve drastically overnight – but having a structure in place is a start and this is why Ince is right to make it a non-negotiable.
If there’s no structure in place, it will make Ince’s task of managing the team all but impossible, so it will be interesting to see whether the owner agrees with the 54-year-old and whether he hands him the job permanently.