I started talking to as many people as possible. The right people. I hadn’t experienced football in lockdown, so I spoke to as many people as I could about that, about the challenges – just in case an opportunity came along in the middle of the global pandemic.
I read a lot as well – especially books by coaches, like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger. I wanted to learn more and more and more. Everything about building the culture of a club, coaching techniques, tactics – everything about managing.
I read Brave New World, the book about Mauricio Pochettino’s time at Tottenham, and he said one thing in particular that struck a chord with me. When he became a pro, he was told football would take him wherever football wanted to take him.
I didn’t know where I was going to end up. But I was ready for anything.
“Everything I asked of them, I was surprised at how quickly they were able to implement. They were just so capable”
Then the chance to speak to Reading came up.
I told the owners how I thought I could lead the club, and what I thought I could do with the team. Not only that, I told them I wanted to instil a winning culture.
My plan with the team was to play a system the players were familiar with. I wanted as many of the players as possible to feel comfortable, to be where they were at their best. From there, we could start building.
After I was given the job in late August 2020, we only had two weeks between arriving and the start of the season – so we had to work fast.