The season has come to its conclusion. But with a line drawn under a protracted and topsy-turvy 2019-20 campaign, the coming weeks and months are already being mapped out to bring about change that everyone knows is necessary.
“It’s been a tough situation in this last month of games because, what with the loan players and those out of contract, we could have ten or more players leaving the club this week,” Royals boss Mark Bowen said.
“There has to be a lot of building done. It needs a change in mentality going forward, which I am determined to bring to the club.
“Before this season, this club had finished in the bottom five or six across four of the last five campaigns. This year, we had an awful start to the season, but even though we couldn’t kick on, we got to safety relatively early.
“But getting to safety from relegation is not good enough for this club to accept. I’m not going to have that. We have to try and push forwards next year.
“I’ve got plans I want to put in place. Things have got to change. It needs it.
“Everything has to be worked around the financial restrictions at the club of course. The wage bill has got to be trimmed. And decisions have been made on those players out of contract.
“We’ve got to make sure the recruitment is right and give the fans the chance to see this club move forward.
“I want to bring in young players, who have energy and who are full of running. It’ll be a fine balancing act for me, to ensure we have a smattering of experience too, because you can’t just have kids going into next year.
“But I want players to fit into the system I want to play. Players who can move the ball quickly and play a brand of football that can hopefully get fans on the edge of their seats.”
The squad is set to change as work behind the scenes begins to pick up pace as the curtailed close season begins.
“We won’t have a long break, we’ll be back on the grass in a couple of weeks’ time and we’ll be assessing the likes of Marc McNulty, Tom Holmes, Jordan Holsgrove and others who are coming back into the fold at that stage.
“As for the transfer market, we don’t know what it is going to be like – no club does! Are clubs going to be able to spend, are clubs going to choose not to spend? It’s a marketplace fraught with uncertainty.
“You always want your business done early to you have your players together, training together on the pitch as a squad, but with the financial constraints you’re relying on other clubs to make their decisions on players and acting on players you have targeted as and when it becomes possible.
“But I can’t wait to get my players in, get my team together, with a clearer, stronger philosophy.
“There are important, difficult, complicated decisions to be made at this club. And we have to make the right decisions.”