Full interview with owner Anton ZingarevichOwner Anton Zingarevich spoke to the national media on Saturday about a wide range of topics - the January transfer window, his close relationship with Brian McDermott, his future plans for the club and more besides - and we have a complete unedited transcript here at the official site.
Anton spoke with national journalists Russell Kempson and Laurie Whitwell before our 2-1 victory over Everton, and win lose or draw his message to our fans remains exactly the same. Anton has been happy to communicate with our supporters as openly as possible since taking over earlier this year, and this ten-minute interview gives a full insight on a number of key topics.
Anton, what would you like to say about the speculation, in particular regarding the 'ten players' story that has come out?
The problem is that it was actually mistranslated from what I’ve said. What I really said is that I was asked the question about Arshavin, what do you think of him as a player. I said he’s a good player, I was asked if we’d be interested in him and I said if he’s available like other 10 or 15 players who will be in the winter. We’ll sit down and discuss, but I never actually said that we are interested in signing him. So that was that, it was in Russian news so it was mistranslated. I understand all the speculation, but for us it’s very simple. I have total faith in the manager, he has a new contract since March, we are working together and we have great relationship. In terms of players, a number of times all of us said it’s a collective decision but it’s the manager who has the last word. In terms of transfer speculation that’s really what I would like to say.
So it was ten players are being looked at and Brian said in a press conference…
Of course, ten players was like a figure of speech. All I was saying is there will be players available in winter so we’ll see what we want to do.
That doesn’t mean you’re going to bring in ten players.
Of course, I never actually said that. We would never do that, and it’s impossible to bring in ten new players.
Is January a time when you can do some work?
A little bit. We’ve showed like last season, when we needed to strengthen, we know what we needed to strengthen and we did so. But probably we’ll see. We haven’t really discussed it yet because it’s too early to speak about, but we’ll see whatever the manager wants to do in the winter we’ll sit down and discuss it.
You speak to Brian on a regular basis….
Yes quite regular, of course.
…because he used to be a scout didn’t he?
Yes of course. It’s very easy for me because he has good judgement skills in terms of players. Of course we discuss things, but right now we’re concentrating on games rather than players because it’s almost two months ahead, it’s a bit early to talk about that anyways.
Will there be funds available?
Yes there will be funds available, but we’ll sit down and see what we want to do. We’ll have to effective. There are teams that spend money and teams that do it in an effective manner. We’ll show what our thinking is, last January we brought in new players and did what we needed to do. For the sake of bringing in new players, we knew what we need to do to the team and that’s what we did.
Does it frustrate you if there’s a good Russian player out there, like Arshavin, Pavel came in in the summer and your links helped with that deal. Does that frustrate you or is it natural?
It doesn’t frustrate me, I don’t really look at nationalities. It wasn’t like Pavel was Russian so we needed to take him, the manager said, we knew that he’s available because of his contract situation, the manager said I want him so I did what I could to bring him, it was a collective effort. Brian talked to him a number of times, I did, so it wasn’t like I went and just signed him.
Does it hurt, the speculation about Brian’s future?
Of course, because I mean it’s just not necessary but I guess people will always speculate, but for me it’s just nonsense really. I have total faith in him, he has long-term contract so I don’t see any problems.
I gather in the local paper they mentioned Dick Advocaat...
I don’t even know where that came from, that’s what speculation is, right?
It is, and I think Brian was very hurt by it.
Of course, he would but we talk so he knows from me everything. Everything is fine, we work as a team and will continue to do that. I’m sure that he is the man for the job and I’m sure he can become a very good manager in the Premier League.
Do you look at last season, a hangover from the play-offs..
If you look at the last three seasons that’s all we did, we started off a bit slow but then we picked up later in the season. Of course the Premier League is a new challenge, it’s a difficult challenge, we’re not really losing too many games, we just need to turn draws into wins and everything will be fine. This season nobody really outplayed us, we had one bad game against Spurs but otherwise we were in all of the other games. It wasn’t like we were [well] beaten.
Has the League surprised you?
Not really, it is what we expected to be. It’s a tough league of course, it’s just a lot of small things that build the whole thing up, some decisions or whatever it is, but it all consists of.. it was what it is but we just have to go a step further.
How would it work in terms of January, do you go to him and say about this player…
We have the staff, Nick, Steve Shorey, Steve Head, the whole team so it’s not like [just] me. We work as a group, obviously I’m not going scouting games so I cannot really come up with all the players right, so it’s the guys doing the job, then when we have a list and discuss it. Again, the manager makes the final decision on all the transfers.
And you’re confident Brian will be here in January, at the end of the season?
Yes, I am, I am, as I said yes we had a little bit of an unfortunate start but I think we will just pick up and everything will be fine.
So you think he’s the man to guide you to safety…
Yes, of course.
... and survival is the aim?
We’ll see where we are, obviously it doesn’t always happen but we’re trying to win every game and we’ll see where we are at the end of the season. What we have is the spirit amongst the players and staff that makes me believe everything is going to be fine. You can have players and people but when you don’t have the core it’s difficult. We have the core here so I don’t think we’re in any sort of trouble, everything is going OK.
The fans are still behind him, there was a poll to say so….
Of course, I mean fans always get frustrated when the results are not going our way but they just have to be patient a little bit. Obviously we’ve done really well at the end of last season so the expectations are of winning. But it’s the Premier League, it’s tough, we all understand that. We’ve been ahead in five games this season, with a couple of wins it’d be so different and everyone would be happy. That’s football, we can’t predict what’s going to happen, we have to learn from it and do better.
There’s Brian, Mark Hughes and Nigel Adkins, the pressure mounts in this league, is that surprising?
I think it’s any league. When the results aren’t going your way, especially in England when there’s more attention, it gets a little bit difficult but I can’t comment on the other managers, I know Brian is confident and he’s just a little bit irritated by the press and all the stuff he has to answer, he’s saying the same things all over again, me as well. Everything is fine, we’re really concentrated on our football, we look to the next game and we’re not thinking about any big picture things.
They say in England if you give a vote of confidence then two or three weeks later a manager leaves, I’m sure you’re aware of that but that’s not going to happen.
No, no, no of course not. As I said, there’s nothing at all in that. He is the man for the job, he is the manager and I have total faith in him.
Do you remember the first time you met, did he impress you?
Yes and I think he has the right characteristics to be a manager. You can be a good coach but it’s about being the right manager. The way he handles the group and the spirit they have, the manager is a key person in all of that process. To be a good manager you need to be a good psychologist and he is, that’s the key. From the first meeting I understood that.
Do you have a broader picture of Reading and how important is the Premier League money next season?
Of course it’s important. If you’re a Premier League club you want to be a Premier League club. There is a vision, I’ve said it many times. Today the stadium is full so at some point we need to expand it. It won’t be tomorrow, but within five years we need to. Also we need to improve some of our internal infrastructure, our training ground, so there are those basic things. Lately all the clubs are into that.
Finally on the player side, are there players you’ve had a look at and would be keen to make a move for.
It’s really too early. Of course there are many players, but in terms of where we are today, we’re not really looking at specific players. We’re scouting like everybody, but we didn’t sit down yet and discuss what we need to do. That will happen later on in the year.
Couple of weeks, a month?
We’ll see. It’s not like [we’ve said] this is the date we need to do it, obviously January transfer window is a funny one, it doesn’t really depend on the player it also depends on the club where they are. It’s a bit too early right now, everybody has many games, things can change. We’ll see, it’s not like next week we’ll decide or two weeks we’ll decide, we’ll decide before the transfer window opens.