Boss on his time at the helm so farIn the build-up to our game at Derby this past weekend, manager Steve Clarke spoke to Sky Sports Soccer Saturday in a wide-ranging interview about his time as our boss so far.
He discussed the changes he's made, Financial Fair Play, his squad, his goals and most of all picking up points in the SkyBet Championship. Read below for a full transcript.
“It’s nice to be back at work. It was a long time, a year out of the game. So it’s been good. The players have been really responsive, the club has been good, helpful. The set-up is good. It’s a well-run club. Obviously they have suffered a little bit under the new Financial Fair Play rules because they are still carrying some Premier League wages. The budget is tight, but that’s okay. We can work within the budget. As long as you know what your budget is you can always work within it.
“We had a quiet January but we have a lot of good players already here at the club, and it’s my job to try and get the best out of that group of players. I think anybody who looks at the squad of players we’ve got here would think that Reading should be a little bit higher in the League.
“It’s obviously been a difficult season, and what happened to us against Leeds is what has happened throughout the season. Every time we get to a level where you think we might push on we have a little setback, and we haven’t quite got to the levels we maybe should have achieved this season. We’re working on that, and looking to try and improve on that.
“We’re just looking to keep building on what we have done so far, which has by and large been good.”
On the differences between Premier League and Championship:
“Obviously the intensity of the games is different. We’re on a run now where we play Saturday/midweek for the next number of weeks, so it is a fiercely competitive division. You don’t get quite so much time on the grass with your players to prepare. You don’t get the clear week to prepare and you spend a lot of time just recovering between games. That’s a little bit different to what you’re used to in the Premier League, certainly in the middle to lower half of the Premier League you usually have a clear week to prepare your team for matches. Obviously if you’re a top four team and you’re involved in European competition it is a little bit different. You have the same idea of recovering and moving to the next game. It’s different but there are similarities.”
On making an impact:
“You come in with a fresh angle, different principles and you can quickly get those principles across. Then slowly you have to start adding to those principles to try and expand your way of playing, to broaden the minds of your players and give them a better outlook on different systems. I think that is probably the biggest thing since I came here, that I managed to bed them down into one system and to try and find a second system that they’re comfortable with is just a little bit more difficult. Maybe we’ll just stick with the basics.
“A lot of football is repetition. If you keep repeating the same message, and keep showing the players the same drills and practices on the training ground then they get into a habit, and that’s what you want. You want players to get into a habit. Obviously you want them to get into good habits, as that is what builds the results going forward. You try and show them a consistency in your message when you speak to them, and you try and give them a consistency on the training pitch when you’re showing them what you want them to do and how you want them to play. Hopefully, if they’re intelligent players and clever players, they can pick it up and everybody can be successful.”
On next season and finances:
“I understand the rewards of being in the Premier League and obviously with the new television deals that have been mentioned last week, the amount of money that will be in the Premier League is a big carrot, and a big incentive for the Championship clubs to get there. But you have to be careful. You have to be prudent and I think everybody has to run their club properly. There’s no point putting your club in a position where financially they can’t cope. As long as everyone is sensible, and chase the dream – you wouldn’t want to say to your supporters that you’re not going to chase the dream because everyone wants to do that – and try to be in the Premier League. I think teams have to be sensible about it though and try in the right way and not overstep the mark financially and put the club in trouble.
“The clubs have to realise that they have to do it within a financial budget that the club can manage. I thank another problem you have is the teams that come down from the Premier League - obviously first season down they’re prepared to carry a big wage bill to try and get back immediately but after that it becomes more difficult. At the moment Reading are a club in that position, where they are carrying Premier League wages in the Championship. It is why we’re struggling so much with Financial Fair Play. It doesn’t leave us much room to manoeuvre in terms of transfers and bringing players in, but for me it is a good challenge as a manager to try and manage the budget, work on a smaller budget, and try and improve the squad without spending loads and loads of money.
“It’s a different challenge to ones I’ve faced previously. Obviously my previous club was a Premier League club, but you’re still looking at your team and still trying to improve but with a Premier League budget so it’s slightly different. It’s no less challenging down here in the Championship, I have to say.”