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Rodgers…. over and out 12/06/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Admittedly I’m a week or so behind the times on this.  Never claimed to be at the cutting edge of developments, nor organised enough to respond quickly even if it’s to something that might have been seen coming.  The days of a crack squad of BSaD writers seems a long time ago…

The question of “should he or shouldn’t he” is a moot point, of course, as it was a week ago.  He’s gone, that’s it.  But I have to confess to being a little surprised.  Reading may be a club with which he has an affinity, one with a stronger squad, healthier finances and a more favourable commute (I’m not going to criticise him on that score…).  Nonetheless they’re not that well off… they’re in the difficult position that we were in a year ago, not sure whether to stick or twist in the last season of parachute payments and with plenty of daunting looking competition for promotion places next season.  They’ve got a squad that probably needed freshening up at least a year ago, and as has been made clear since his appointment they need to sell before they can buy.

Most of all the move doesn’t give Rodgers much wriggle room.  If it all goes well for him, fine.  If it doesn’t… whereas at Watford he could have claimed plenty of mitigating circumstances even if we struggled next season, he won’t have that luxury at Reading.  And if it all goes wrong and he finds himself looking for another job in a year or so, he won’t find managers of smaller clubs overly eager to appoint someone who jumped ship as soon as a better offer came along last time around.

Moving on to which… one prevailing emotion is disappointment, obviously.  After a more than iffy start to his tenure, Watford settled into a rhythm and looked a tidy side for much of the second half of the season.  We knew that this season would be difficult, but had seen enough to suggest that we’d cope, with his help.  Perhaps not much more… but we’d cope, and stabilise.  Now… it’s not just that the story’s ended as much as it never got going.  As if you’ve read the first chapter, gotten into the story and then left the book on the train…

It’s not unreasonable to feel let down.  It has been speculated, amongst the accepted demonisation of the previous regime, that the financial situation was more parlous than Rodgers had been led to believe by the previous chairman.  Were that the case, nobody could reasonably blame Rodgers for prioritising his own interests but having stayed on and set the club along a path he’s not punishing those guilty of misleading him by so transparently treating the club as an inconvenient but necessary step on a career path, like a grubby bedsit that he put up with whilst scrounging together a deposit.  We’re all entitled to resent that, I think.

The misguided pronouncements defending his honesty and integrity were particularly unhelpful, quite obviously.  They were also completely unnecessary… there was no need for him to comment one way or another, a dignified silence would have been far more graceful whatever the circumstances at the time.  One doesn’t have to be too cynical to interpret these comments as worse than merely ill-advised though… the rate at which Rodgers’ odds plummeted to an extraordinary 1/6 on in the wake of Coppell’s departure from Reading suggested more than merely someone placing money in the knowledge of who Reading’s preferred candidate was likely to be.  Such judgments are often reasonably straightforward without resulting in the sort of rush on bookmakers that provokes such a retraction of odds – it’s not as if Rodgers was the only strong candidate for the job afer all.

It’s not difficult to read that situation as someone knowing not only that Rodgers would be approached, but knowing what his response would be.  Adding  to that suspicion were the subsequent “negotiations” between Jimmy Russo and John Madejski.  Reading having met a contractual fee that permitted them to recruit Rodgers on his agreement, one wonders what was left to negotiate… and why Madejski would leave his club potentially owing the Hornets more than they needed to.  An investment to avert the risk of tapping-up accusations is one possible interpretation.

It has been suggested that football supporters rely too much on their emotions in such situations;  that it’s unreasonable to judge managers (or players) as if they ought to have the same emotional bond to the club as we do, or to suggest that we wouldn’t shift employers for a better deal in our own walks of life.

The difference is that my employer’s industry doesn’t stand or fall on the emotional buy-in of its “customers” (horrible word).  Neither Rodgers nor any other manager or player serves any purpose in the greater scheme of things.  They owe their employment and viability of choice of career to the fact that people care, to the fact that people have that emotional attachment.  So to treat this attachment with such callous disregard, to expect people not to react emotionally, is plain daft.

And a continued refusal to keep his silly mouth shut isn’t helping.  Telling Watford’s support that they’ll “get over it” (I’m tempted to say “move on”) feels like a red rag to a bull; Vicarage Road will be an unusually intimidating place when Reading visit, one suspects, particularly if this happens early in the campaign.  Rodgers shares with his predecessor a rather wearing tendency to talk complete bollocks, to stage-manage his communication (and in a ham-fisted, sometimes patronising way) rather than telling us what he actually thinks.  Whoever the new guy is, some of Ray Lewington’s candour wouldn’t go amiss.

There are two benefits to the saga as far as Watford’s support is concerned.  The first, as my co-editor would want me to point out, is the provision, at long last, of a good reason to dislike Reading.  That dislike has always been there, but has been rather more difficult to justify than it feels now.  The second, my brother’s point, is something to rally behind, someone to pour venom at without fear of contradiction.   Such exercises can be cathartic, and not since Dave Bassett’s departure in very different circumstances 21 years ago has someone set themselves up for this treatment so comprehensively.

It could yet get worse.  Inevitably one fears the prospect of Rodgers returning to cherry-pick the squad, armed not just with the experience of working with the players but also with the knowledge of their contracts and the sort of offers that we may be under pressure to accept.  Personally I would find it difficult to countenance Smith moving to Berkshire, as their local press seems to suggest, but the pilfering of Ross Jenkins would be even less forgivable.

As for the new guy… well he’s got a job on, to put it mildly.  He’s going to need as much support as he can get.  I would have loved to have seen Hessie and Gibbs come back, managerial and coaching experience, both having helped make silk purses from sows’ ears in the past, genuine association with the club and a banner to rally behind.  Heaven knows we need one of those.  This seems unlikely if today’s papers are to be believed.  Either way, at least we won’t have to put up with any more references to Chelsea and Mourinho… Reading are welcome to those.


1. Dave - 12/06/2009

Excellent piece.

2. strap - 12/06/2009

As a Reading fan I have to say this article is a very good read indeed. We have had similar situations with The Fat Scottish B@astard and Parjudas, so can understand a little of your rancour. However, a few things do stand out in this case. Our Chairman approached your chairman for permission to speak to BR. Further, the necessary contractual compensation was provided, (plus more as I understand it), and BR had been your manager for just over half a season – hardly time for him to have endeared him to your hearts I would suggest.

BR is a young man, and clearly has a lot to learn about engaging his brain before his mouth, but then I think we can forgive him that – as long as it doesnlthappen again!

In fact he would do a lot worse than look at the careers of the FSB and Parjudas. FSB has finally landed himself a “proper” job at Aberdeen, after flattering to decive for years after he was poached from us, and Parjudas is currently unemployed after pretty dismal stints at The Sham and Charlton.

The motto here must be “don;t believe for one second your own hype”, and ” remember the little on your way up as you’ll meet them on teh way down!”.

Great that someone actually hates us at last BTW. Was really missing the days in Div 4 with teh rucks at Aldershite! Looks like we’ll be having some fun over at your allotments next year then?!?!

Best of luck for next season – you’ll need it!!

3. Matt Rowson - 12/06/2009

cheers for the post strap. but if you think Madejski’s formal approach was the first Rodgers knew of Reading’s interest you’re kidding yourself.

4. Dave Hart - 12/06/2009

It seems pretty obvious that Rodgers was tapped up. Whilst I am genuinely sorry to see him go, I find it difficult to show the anger that fans at other forums are showing. I met him at the fans forum, and was very impressed with him. He certainly talks a good game, but one wonders if he will do as well at Reading.

Looking at the positives, we stayed up, and he probably raised the transfer values of McAnuff and Priskin at least. We have also sold a lot of season tickets, which the club desperately needs.

Quite a few players were going to be sold anyway this Summer, and the bottom line is, if we can sell off players for a few quid, we can get our of the financial mess more quickly. A large drop in the wage bill would resolve most of our problems.

The club’s debt is reasonably low. Sheffield United probably helped keep us out of administration last year, and Reading could do the same this season. The £2m we got for Henderson in particular still seems like very good business.

Rumour has it that Dyche will be Malky’s assistant, although I would rather see a more experienced assistant.

5. Jeremy Clarke - 13/06/2009

JC here…

…the first thing BR had arranged just 24 hours of taking up Reading post was to arrange a pre season friendly with Chelski…mmmmmm…..my how quickly he worked

have to agree with MR…Gibbs, Malkcky and Chamberlin as front room…perhaps with old Smokey as support to Dyche with youngsters…and GT watching over them..and Luther providing the pink shirt roll

6. Red - 13/06/2009

With the demise of Luton can I formally propose Reading as the team we detest most. I thought it might have been QPR, but taking into consideration the Atwell “goal” and our worst performance of the year 4-0 (under BR) I think it is only right it should be them. An excellent article, but at the end of the day the biggest question is this-Is this way we would expect any Watford manager/player to behave? Is it the Watford way? Should we be resentful and hurt?
Any seconders?

7. JohnF - 13/06/2009

I can understand Rogers wanting to go to Reading with his past history and the fact that he still lives there but it was the manner of the leaving that rankles. All that garbage about integrity and loyalty now looks more like a smokescreen to hide an illegal approach. The sudden about face, as Jimmy pointed out, was suspicious. The rumours started about which players will join from Watford looks, under the circumstances, like a deliberate attempt to unsettle players before Malky (probably) is installed and just adds insult to injury.

The rumour mill suggests that Malky would have liked Dyche as his number 2 but the board said no. I agree that he needs someone more experienced close to him but not John Ward who is a very close friend of GT. A number 2 who is so close to one of the directors is nothing if not bad news. Ward should have been appointed as manager immediately after GT left the first time but not as assistant now.

I see we have also lost the head of our medical team and that is a significant blow. At least he is not supposed to be joining Reading.

We now await formal confirmation of the manager and the player movements. It looks as though Rogers shafted us and I hope he doesn’t continue to do so. He was given his big chance, which he took, and then tossed us aside at the first sniff of “something better”. Now if he wants players we need to make the miserable git pay through the nose. £5 million for Smithy anyone?

8. Sirhornet - 13/06/2009

I for one am desparate to move on . New manager early next week, fixtures out on Weds. What more do we need?

9. Dave Hart - 13/06/2009

I woke up this morning realising, if anyone knows if players from our academy are good enough, it’s Malky. Players such Parkes, Henderson, Gibson, Hodson and perhaps even Bangura could come into the equation. Anyone who usually reads my drivel will know that I particularly rate the first three.

Rodgers may even sign McAnuff, who is reputedly our highest earner. As long as the club holds firm over asking prices, I’m OK with it. Deep down, we all know that Watford is a selling club, so why not shaft Reading with the high prices?

It’s just a shame he doesn’t rate Ellington…

10. MartinG - 14/06/2009

If you look at Aidy going round touting for jobs now when at one point he was England’s bright young thing then you see how fast reputations change. BR might not have got the opportunity again. While I won’t miss the psychobabble about ‘projects’, ‘in this moment’ etc. he did make a real positive difference in how we played and his signings were mostly very good. The one I’m worried he’ll poach is Mike Willamson.

Many of us wanted Malky first time round, the destruction of QPR was one of the best games this season for me, so bring on the new season.

11. Wat4Steve - 14/06/2009

Like to remind you of a post I made in April. This deal was done long ago……………

5 What will the summer bring?

5a If you read between the lines Tommy is off as it appears Tamas may be (if his agent gets his own way). Useless, Williamson and Sadler will not be missed IMHO and should knock £1M off the wages. Jay, JJoT , Jobi, Hoskins, Bangura will undoubtedly be allowed to go if the deal is right for Club and player. What will we be allowed to bring in?

5b Will Buck stay? Ok he has said he is happy but what would you expect him to say. He is a Reading boy. Coppell looks like he will be relieved of his duties should they not go back up and Watford have gone on record as saying Brendan was mislead over the state of the club Finances when he took the job. The press are linking Dennis Wise to Vicarage Road, GOD HELP US!!

………… It could be a long summer.

12. rous man - 14/06/2009

the best man marker he has ever worked with must make L D his first signing. bet it does not. the bloke (B R) has been on a wind up 4 some time. If he signs Doyley I will get the teas in all season.And this “shoot” crap has got to stop as well

13. Matt Rowson - 15/06/2009

hilarious. so the mysterious adulation of Doyley that baffled you and other Lloyd-baters at the end of last season wasn’t a reflection of his ability and commitment, but part of Rodgers’ dastardly plot? Really?

14. Big Tone - 15/06/2009

Great article Matt and have to agree with Dave Hart that I find it hard to be riled by this, even given the misguided and somewhat naive comments about integrity a month or so ago.

BR had such a strong affinity with Reading that it would have been hard for him to resist and actually, I believe him when he said that he wouldn’t have left for any other club.

However, I think he owes us some respect and integrity for giving him hos chance in the first place and I would be hugely disappointed to see Reading begin cherry picking from our squad – but then again, maybe that makes me naive…

Anyhow, onwards and upwards; and I can’t be the only one who is now really looking forward to next season with a proper Watford board, manager and (for the moment anyhow) squad in place.

In fact I don’t even mind if we end up in a relegation scrap next season – it’s all about how you do things rather than what you do. And that’s perhaps the one thing BR might like to take from his time at Watford I’d argue.

Bring it on.

15. Old Git - 15/06/2009

Why hate Reading when MK Dons are still in existence? Let’s get our prorities right, please.

16. Matt Rowson - 15/06/2009

OG… Franchise don’t even qualify as a football team. They’re worthy of everyone’s derision, not ours in particular.

17. Tops - 15/06/2009

(Matt – they are indeed but as a Kingstonian fan I must add the oft-forgotten disclaimer that AFCW are hardly whiter than white…)

On the subject of Rodgers, I can’t say I’d have been remotely annoyed if it hadn’t been for all the ‘integrity’ nonsense. It seems obvious enough that this was a deliberate attempt on his part to cover up the fact he knew he was on his way as soon as Coppell was out of the door, and that is pretty unforgivable.

18. Paul - 15/06/2009

Good article Matt.
Well it’s official now. Malky is the man and I’m sure there will be a lot of goodwill behind this appointment from the fans. Let’s hope he is able to keep the squad, fairly intact and that he is able to get up and running fairly quickly so that we don’t have to worry too much about relegation.

19. rous man - 15/06/2009

commitment always has been 100% thats one thing not in question. but ability ?? if you are correct then BR will be back to sign him. the problem is I think he may be back but for TS.

20. GraemeB - 15/06/2009

Of course we’re disappointed that Rodgers has gone, but you really can’t blame him for doing so. He doesn’t owe WFC anything — he was hired to save us from relegation, and he did that most capably.
In an age when few clubs show loyalty to managers, the managers have to do what’s best for their own careers. And from Brendan’s perspective now is the time to move — while his stock is high and a decent offer is on the table. If he’d stayed another year, possibly losing some of his best players and ending up lower mid-table, his prospects would have been greatly reduced. And you’d have to admit this was a more likely scenario than Watford mounting a serious promotion challenge. As it is he will be with a club that is undoubtedly more ambitious, with better support, a better stadium, and certainly paying him a lot more money. Wouldn’t we all have done the same….?
So I wish Brendan well. But I’d still take great pleasure from seeing Malky pip Brendan for the last play-off place.

21. Simon in Oz - 16/06/2009

Fine article, Matt, but…
BR – the first ex-employee we can really enjoy pouring venom at since Bassett? What about Signor Vialli? However, I do understand that it may have been difficult for supporters to empty the snakebite bottle at the bald Italian when his only appearance since his departure has been in a lawyer’s office.
Will BR’s first pronouncement from Biscuitmen, sorry, Royals HQ,be a plan to use beautiful, tippy-tappy Prem football to get them out of the Div 2 ruck? If he does not, we will know that he has at least learned something from his ‘work experience’ at WFC.
….and now for the cricket!

22. Matt Rowson - 16/06/2009

Fair point Simon, I’d blocked Vialli from my memory… but I’d still argue that Rodgers’ conduct is more disgraceful than Vialli’s ever was. The decision to appoint Vialli, and to give him such leeway with salaries was the crime. Vialli made a pig’s ear of the job but I don’t think he was ever anything but committed to the exercise. It’s not as if he needed the meal ticket was it? But he still took a step down to Div 2 to (fail to) prove his mettle.

GraemeB… I’d argue that Rodgers owed us the respect not to talk to us or treat us like idiots. He’d been speaking to Reading behind our backs, and then expecting us to take comments about integrity and honesty at face value. Surely you don’t read Mackay’s comments about bringing the same qualities to the club as a coincidence.

I’d also disagree that it was necessarily the right move to him, as discussed in the article, but that’s a distinct issue.

23. DM - 16/06/2009

Agree about Vialli – right up to the point where this already rich man decided to sue the club for loss of potential earnings. In the scheme of things, nowhere near an Ashton, a Bassett or a Steve Foster but still pretty poor form…

24. Matt Rowson - 16/06/2009

So because he’s well off we don’t have to honour the contract we gave him?

25. Harefield Hornet - 16/06/2009

Its all very odd – a bit like being dumped by a bird who you’ve only taken out once! Too be honest I couldn’t really give a shit about Rodgers and his phoney sound bites – WFC has been around for a hundred odd years before him and is likely to be around for a long time after him. Reading are just like us, they’re never going to be one of the elite, just a slightly bigger stepping stone for BR’s career path at the moment – and presumably he’ll be able to get home in time to watch Chuggington with his kids!

Lets just forget about another of the long list of prats that have turned us over and get behind Malkey.

26. rous man - 16/06/2009

agree with harefield hornet get behind malkey forget about BR he is history as far as WFC are concerned !!!

27. DM - 16/06/2009

No Matt – because he’s well off, he might have had the decency to not try and screw an already broke football club out of a bit more cash…

28. Matt Rowson - 17/06/2009

Not sure that stands up by any standards. After all, were it reasonable to suppose that Vialli had no more right to claim his dues than some poor sod without two pennies to rub together, the club might have taken this factor into consideration in deciding not to honour his contract…

29. Gerry G - 17/06/2009

Bye bye Clodagh, aw\’right big man Malky. Seems like a good swap to me. Malky should have got the job in the first place and would likely have done even better than Clodagh (remember his seriously crappy first 6 games or so), so Clodagh\’s short-lived reign can be seen as a mere easily forgotten hiccup.

Did Clodagh really talk about fans getting over his departure? I wouldn\’t have thought that many hearts were broken when he went walkies. In one door and out the other leaving little trace of his passing, destined for the dustbin of footballing history. A nonentity in WFC terms.

As for hating Reading: what\’s the point? You want a serious local rival and hate team to replace Luton, surely QPR is the only available option: local, and with all the new money emininently scornable too.

I take it that there\’ll be a wee posting on the Big Man here shortly?

30. Old Git - 17/06/2009

There are plenty of us who thought Vialli failed to fulfil his side of the contract and that his employment should have been terminated on the grounds of incompetence and gross negligence. His employment of Wilkins was surely enough grounds to take him to a tribunal and demand that he paid WFC compensation, rather than getting paid handsomely himself. Or grounds to have him sectioned under the Mental Health Act, which would have rendered his contract invalid. He wasn’t employed to blow all the club’s funding on unmitigated crap, nor to spend his time sneering at the achievements of the past and as he did these things during his contracted hours, any half decent lawyer would have been able to demonstrate grounds for dismissal without compensation.
We were robbed by him. Rodgers behaved decently by comparison.

31. DM - 17/06/2009

Matt – Yes, they might. They might have done a great number of things they didn’t down the years. I still say Vialli didn’t need to press his claim and his attempts to do so, while perfectly legal, left a bitter taste.

Bottom line, Vialli should never have been given the job, There, I’m sure, we can agree.

32. Matt Lovett - 17/06/2009

Just a brief comment on Rodgers and our new ‘arch enemies’. Disappointing that Rodgers has gone, but not surprising in light of all the innuendo about him having been hired under ‘false pretences’. Good luck to him. On the second point, we’ve absolutely no reason to fire up a vendetta with Reading – either on the Rodgers issue, or the Attwell incident. As for QPR – again, what beef do we have with them? Geographically they may now be our local derby, but there’s nothing in our history to suggest we should be be at loggerheads. My suggestion is that we ramp up hostilities with Crystal Palarse. Over the last 32 years that I’ve been going to the Vic, I’ve always found the occasion of a Palarse visit really stokes things up in the crowd – obviously not on the scale of a Luton visit – but our encounters certainly spice the crowd up a bit. Throw in the fact that Colin manages them, IG and MR (and most non-WFC supporters I know) have a long term disregard/dislike/hatred of them, and the elderly lunatic who sits a couple of rows in front of me in the Rookery (last time Palarse visited he stood up and screamed the following masterpiece during a lull in proceedings -“Sarf London, W*nk w*nk w*nk” (repeat 3 further times), and we’ve got a perfect replacement for the boys from Beds.

33. Old Git - 18/06/2009

To clear up any confusion… although I sit in the Rookery, any resemblance between myself and the ‘elderly lunatic’ mentioned in Matt Lovett’s posting above, is entirely co-incidental.

34. GraemeB - 21/06/2009

Matt, re your 16/06 posting, it is of course true that Rodgers must have had informal contact with Reading before their official approach. But we would be naive to think that this is not common practice throughout the game. Did not the club have Rodgers lined up before Aidy was sacked? OK, so this was done under the previous management, but I really don’t think WFC can claim the moral highground here.

35. Matt Rowson - 21/06/2009


I don’t doubt that you’re right… obviously about the prevalence of this sort of thing and probably about the timing of the approach for Rodgers (by us). The distinction here is the callous claims of integrity and honesty whilst all of this was going on.

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