Jim And Mick Give You Answers!

Hob Nob Anyone? teamed up with The Reading Chronicle to give you the chance to have your questions answered directly by Jim and Mick; Reading's ex-management duo. This page contains the questions set by Internet Royals and the answers given by Jim and Mick in their last few months of management at Elm Park. With any luck next season you might well be able to put your questions to the new man in the Elm Park 'hot' seat!

Jim and Mick Answer...
Wednesday 7 May 1997

How important do you feel the supporters are to the team and what notice do you take of support, comments and criticism from the supporters?

The fans pay money and should be taken very seriously. It is impossible to listen to every single fan. They make a lot of difference when they get behind the team and we share all the pressures of the fans when things are not going well.

When Neil Webb broke into the first team (aged 17), he was small and not very strong. He was given a routine over the summer and came back a transformed player. Do you have plans to work on the physiques of Byron Glasgow, Neville Roach and Ben Smith over the close season?

They will be given a programme for the summer, as will all the players. We cannot do much about Byron's height, but we can make him, and Neville and Ben, stronger players. We feel we can make them a touch quicker. The three lads certainly have potential but they know they have to strengthen and sharpen up.

Jim and Mick Answer...
Wednesday 30 April 1997

After the impressive performances of Neville Roach and Byron Glasgow, can we expect to see more young stars breaking into the team next season?

We do not see any reason why not. We have certainly improved the standard of YTSs coming through as first years and on top of that, we have got some who will be second years next year. We have restructured the school of excellence from top to bottom to ensure that in the long term we have as good a chance as any of getting the best talent from the Reading area, not the best of whatís left after everyone else has had their pick. Allied to that, we have made a lot of contacts in the north east and north west which will allow us to compete with the best for youngsters that can break through into the first team.

Are you pleased with how the season has finished?

No, because we still have not sorted out the away form. Three or four more wins away from home and we would have had a completely different season.

Do you agree with the use of video replays to assist referees?

It is certainly likely to happen at some stage, but where will it stop? The game will end up at about five hours long, but referees should look at the videos just as players and managers do, just to see where they go wrong.

Do you blame the defeat at Palace on:
1) Silly defensive lapses at three key moments.
2) A general lack of pace at the back.
3) The green socks

The green socks.

How much will you be able to spend on improving the squad in the summer?

That is entirely up to the chairman.

Can we be assured that when we move to the new stadium, the managers will do their utmost to prevent the introduction of a ridiculous character mascot such as those at other clubs?

We think a character mascot would be a good idea because the younger element of the fans would enjoy having such a figure at the club.

Jim and Mick Answer...
Wednesday 23 April 1997

How do you approach finding new players. Do you have many scouts or do you use contacts within the game?

The scouting system was disbanded a number of years ago, before Mark McGhee was here. He had his own contacts in the game, as we have. We have people that we know who go and watch games for us up and down the country. If we hear about a player we will send someone to have a look at him and if the player gets good reports, then we'll have a look ourselves. Agents also play a part, making us aware of players' availability.

Who do you think will take the remaining two promotion places in the First Division this season?

Barnsley are in a good position. They have done very well and it would be a great filip to a club like Reading. They have done very well on limited resources and they deserve their chance in the Premiership. The third place is a lottery and anyone could win it. The form team at the moment is Ipswich. they have been playing very well, but that is no guarantee that they will be promoted.

Do we have a realistic chance of promotion next season?

That all depends on what happens in the summer, and there is not a lot more we can say until contracts and finances have been decided.

Jim and Mick Answer...
Wednesday 16 April 1997

How close is the current squad to having the players capable of pushing for promotion next season?

It depends on what money is made available to us in the summer. We have the base to build a very good team here. We know in our minds who we want to keep, who we want to let go and who we want to bring in. That all depends on what finances are made available and we understand that the new stadium will take precedence over everything else.

Reading have had a number of captains this season (Hunter, Morley, Bernal, Parkinson, Gilkes). Compared to rugby and cricket, football captains seem to have no real function. Do the managers think it matters who is captain and what do they expect from him?

Barry Hunter was made captain at the beginning of the season because we think he has the credentials to be a very good captain. But he has missed a few games and it seems that whoever took his place either got injured or suspended and that's why we ended up with so many. The captain has responsibilities in representing the football club and representing the players as a go-between with us.

In the play-off season, Stuart Lovell and Lee Nogan looked an outstanding partnership yet both have struggled to make the same impression since. Are the managers able to suggest why this is?

It is purely a matter of confidence. In the play-off season they were confident that they were going to score goals or set each other up. Last season we did not get off to the best of starts and like all strikers, their confidence waned. We played them together as much as we could until Christmas, but things were not going well and we had to change things around. This year they have both suffered with injuries and they have not been able to get a rhythm going. Trevor Morley has had an outstanding season and with his goals, there is no way we could leave him out. Whoever has played with him, it has not clicked and the confidence has not always been there.

Jim and Mick Answer...
Wednesday 2 April 1997

Why was Michael Gilkes allowed to leave the club?

We want to clear this matter up once and for all. Three weeks ago, before there were any rumours about Michael, we offered him a new two year contract. He told us he would think about it and came back to us saying that he was not happy with the terms. He wanted a little bit more money, but we were not particularly far away. In the meantime the rumours about Wolves blew up in the paper but Mark McGhee phoned and offered an unacceptable amount. We declined the offer and eventually Gilkes' agent got back to us to tell us that Wolves were prepared to pay £150,000 with another £25,000 if Wolves get promoted. Once Michael had been told by his agent that Wolves were interested, he set his heart on the move. It is a big club, and he told us that if there was any possible way that the move could come off, could he possible be allowed to talk to Wolves because he wanted to go. We had a long think about it, and although we would have liked to have kept him here, he wanted to go and we would not have got much money for him at a later date. He is, after all, 32 in the summer. Nobody twisted his arm to go up there and he has decided that it is the best move for him. Wolves are in a better position than us to get into the Premiership and he thought it was his last chance to get into the top flight. He is a lovely lad, and there is no hard feelings between us. He did not cost us a penny, he was a great servant to the club for 13 years and we wish him all the best in the future.

Will Byron Glasgow be given a run in the first team before the end of the season?

We will see what happens. If we think he deserves a place in the team, and he is not far off that now, he will get a run.

A lot of clubs in this division have picked up foreign players on free transfers. Are you avoiding this or is there another reason for not bringing foreigners in?

We have already been once bitten twice shy after the problems we had with Bobby Mihaylov. We get people calling all the time offering us foreigners for free. It is not as easy as that. You have to get the right ones at the right time who will not break the wage structure. They want big money to compensate for the absence of a transfer fee, but the right player at the right price has not yet come along. If you have not seen the players before, you have to get them over on trial, and it is not always possible for them to come over.

Are you planning a tour this summer?

We played a Malaysian team a few weeks ago and there is a possibility that we will arrange something in the next few days, but nothing is confirmed now.

Jim and Mick Answer...
Wednesday 26 March 1997

Will any aspects of Elm Park be missed and have the managers had any input in the design of the new stadium?

Elm Park has been the club's home for a long time, but it is a run down stadium and as much as the loyal supporters have been coming here for a long time, things move on. It will be a sad day when we leave, but the new stadium will be much more user friendly and it will be a lot more comfortable for the fans. We have let our thoughts be known on a few things and we believe that they have been taken into consideration.

When Division One status is assured, will some of the younger players be given a run in the first team?

Depending on our results in the next two or three games, a couple of the young lads will be given a run before the end of the season. It will give them a bit of confidence to play in the first team and it will let the supporters see what they can do.

What do you think will be needed for Reading to make a serious push for the play-offs next season?

There is certain to be a bit of movement among the squad in the summer. We want four or five new faces and there are some players who will move on. We know some of the players that we want, but we will certainly be trying to get more than the two new faces we had during the close season last year.

What lessons have you learnt as managers?

Never take anything for granted. We cannot relax for a minute. We sort various situations out and we may be happy with the way things are going but then something bad may happen. Just when you think you are getting things right, something else happens which needs sorting out. So you can never take things for granted, even when they are going well.

Jim and Mick Answer...
Wednesday 19 March 1997

What is your attitude to the media?

Most of the media are ok. If they play ball with us, we play ball with them. Certain elements of the media have nothing positive to say about the club and we resent that.

Have the training methods changed since the reign of Mark McGhee and what effect has Billy Bonds had since his arrival?

On the whole, when Mark McGhee was here he concentrated on passing and keeping the ball. That is still the basic thing we do in training and although we do things slightly differently, the main content of the training is the same: to keep possession and pass the ball. Billy has eased the workload on us and allowed us to both play if we need to. He has been a big help and the players have reacted in the best possible way. He has a lot of experience and there is no doubt that we had one of the smallest staffs at the club compared to other clubs throughout the country. We had to get the right player, though, and Billy's enthusiasm is second to none. He is a good coach and he is one of those men who only has to walk into a room to command instant respect. If players are not in the side, along with ourselves, Bill takes time to tell them what they need to do to be in contention to get back in the team, because after they have been dropped, they do not always want to listen to the managers. We have been missing having someone who can talk to the players other than ourselves.

Why do you think the club's away form has been disappointing this season?

There has possibly been a lack of mental toughgness in some of our away games. In some of the matches we have played away, we have had players sent off, and that never helps. But there have been a lot of games where we havelost games and we should have at least got a point, if not won them. Players can get mental blocks when things do not go according to plan during a game. After the good result against QPR, we will be looking to further improve our away record. There was a determination against Rangers, although it did help that we scored early on. We have been on a decent run lately and that has boosted the players to believe that we can go away and get results.

Jim and Mick Answer...
Wednesday 12 March 1997

Are the managers satisfied with the training facilities available to them and are those facilities on a par with those of other clubs aspiring to the Premier League?

We are very happy with our training facilities. We used to train at Cantley and they looked after us, but the pitches were used by other teams and so the surfaces were not always that good. We are now training at Sonning, at Reading Cricket and Hockey Club. It is a decent training ground and it gives the lads a lift.The surfaces that we train on are brilliant and they certainly help. We have some food together after training, which is much better than for the players to be shooting off as sson as they finish. It gives them a chance to talk about training, the games we have recently played and the games that we are going to play.

The current Royals squad must have one of the highest average ages in the league. We are also told that the youth policy is not producing good enough young players and that we are not able to compete financially for top players. Where can we expect to see the players coming from who will move us forward into the Premier League?

Steve Kean and Kevin Dillon have worked tirelessly over the past year to improve the standard of youngsters coming into our centre of excellence and YTS scheme. We will not see the benefit of that for another two or three years, but that is because the youth side of the club had been neglected for a number of years. It was one of our first priorities when we took over. Because of the neglect, the school of excellence was a shambles and we could not attract good young players, but it is run very professionally now and we can compete with the likes of Crystal Palace, Chelsea and all the other clubs who have been taking players from Reading and the surrounding area in the past. The best kids in Reading and the surrounding area now want to come to Reading's school of excellence. We cannot afford to buy the top young players in the country, so in the mean time we have to make do with what we have got until the youngsters come through. Having said that, some of the older players we have here perform well enough to be in the team.Trevor Morley will finish as one of the top scorers in our division and Keith McPherson has been consistent all season. If they were too old we would know and they would not be playing.

The disciplinary record at the club has not been good in recent years. Do you consider this a problem and if so, what actions have you taken to improve things?

There have been more yellow and red cards over the last couple of years because of FIFA directives and they have caused major concern to clubs throughout the league. Clubs have had some of their star players on the sidelines because of ridiculous things. People are being booked for things that they would never have been booked for, even just in the last couple of years. Our record is not that much different to other clubs in the league and we don't think it is cause for concern at all.

Watch out for more questions and answers appearing here next season!!

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