Manager previews his first match in chargeSteve Clarke is eager to begin his reign as Reading manager with a win over Watford tomorrow, having started to familiarise himself with his new squad.
After being appointed on Tuesday afternoon, the Scot held his first training session at Hogwood on Thursday morning, as well as a number of team meetings.
Eamon Dolan, Nick Hammond and Martin Kuhl have also been on hand to provide Clarke with a great deal of knowledge about the club, as he prepares for his first match in charge.
The manager said: “I’ve learned that I’ve got a good, honest bunch of players that are determined to succeed. They’re all disappointed with how the season has panned out so far but want to make amends during the coming games.
“I expect us to be a team that is competitive in the Championship and looking up the table and towards the play-off positions. I came here because I feel there’s a group of players that have enough quality and desire to do that. Hopefully we will prove
that right in the coming weeks.
“We haven’t spoken about what’s happened before; it’s a fresh start. I spoke only about what we were going to do going forward. I haven’t given them time to wallow. Football is a strange game, things change very quickly and now everyone has to focus.
“We have to work hard to eliminate the mistakes we’ve been making. My job is to pick the right team and shape on the pitch. I have to very quickly understand my squad; our strengths and weaknesses, and that will be my main focus in the next period of time.
“People like Nick Hammond, Eamon Dolan and Martin Kuhl are really important to me at this moment in time because they know the club better than I do. I have spent a lot of time asking them questions and they have given me some advice on the squad.
“We have got three games coming up very quickly, so there isn’t too much time to work on the training pitch. There might be a few more meetings, some more verbal instructions to the players than normal. I want to get my message across and hopefully the team will then start moving in the right direction.”
Reading’s next three home games see them take on Watford, Norwich and Middlesbrough – all sides challenging at the top of the Championship. Clarke says those sorts of games should make his players’ eyes light up.
“We aspire to be at the top end of the table, so the matches coming up shouldn’t be intimidating for us, they should be encouraging and welcoming,” he said. “We want to win those kinds of games.
“Watford had a little slight change of formation recently, which has helped the squad that they’ve got. They are one of the teams that will challenge for the play-off positions and maybe even the automatic spots. They have got a lot of good players, especially in forward ares.
“Deeney and Vydra, who I know quite well from my time at West Brom, are strong in this league. They’ve got a good pace and threat on the pitch. In a short space of time, I’m trying to get that message across to my players and we will try to get the good start that we want.
“Everybody wants to win and I’d love to get off to a great start. Winning always kickstarts you; I had one at West Brom that set us up for a great season. It would be nice to begin here in a similar vein.”