Nigel Adkins managed to look and sound genuinely enthusiastic when I asked him at Hillsborough last weekend about the completion of Reading’s Thai takeover.
Certainly, the fact that he was, for once, a losing manager on the back of four straight victories should be of no undue concern to him. But ownership history shows that Adkins ought to be watching his back. Just look at the nonsense that’s surrounded Russell Slade at Leyton Orient.
All of which leads to the view that sometimes you can’t beat the status quo, even if it is limited for funds. I’m sure Stuart Gray would be bound to agree. Consider the way Sheffield Wednesday have bonded in the wake of the Hafiz Mammadov fiasco.
Would Gray, regardless of loyalty to the Owls, care to swap with an apparently cash-laden Adkins right now? You strongly suspect not. Can anybody be totally sure that Reading’s backers will be good for the club?
These takeover scenarios can make anyone look foolish and, if someone as worldly wise as Milan Mandaric can slip up, the rest of us can give up trying to read the script. And that’s precisely what seems to be happening as Gray and his team, with the support of a re-focused chairman, enjoy a camaraderie with fans that is embracing the club as a whole.
Of course, the investment search has to continue and Mandaric, at 76 and certainly deserving of a break from the burden at some stage, will regularly entertain interested guests – as evidently he did at last Saturday’s 1-0 home win in front of a near 30,000 crowd that, for all the price discounts, cast the club in a very attractive light. But, with some key recruitment achieved, the Owls have a lot going for them right now. And how much of that is due to greater clarity of mind and purpose?
So you’d have to say that any future off-field intrigue should be kept as low-key as possible, which I’m sure is Mandaric’s intention in his desire to protect the club from further harm or embarrassment.
Yes, there is a need for more quality to suppress the feeling that the team is punching a little above its weight. But the whole is proving so much more effective than the apparent sum of its parts and the enduring need for another striker is being debated by those who’d favour a creative midfielder.
Without being prolific, Atdhe Nuhiu and Stevie May are establishing a pretty good partnership up front. Personally, I still think the Owls are one short in that area with the unfortunate sidelining of Caolan Lavery leaving only Gary Madine and on-loan Hallam Hope in competition (barring a switch from wide for Chris Maguire).
But, my goodness, there’s a great feel about the place again. It’s a spirit once fostered by inspirational former club chaplain Gordon Wilson, whose recent death brought heartfelt tributes, and – writing ahead of the Manchester City cup clash – it can go a long way.