Reading manager Steve Clarke may get an opportunity to face his formed managerial club West Bromwich Albion as the Scot will sustain a moment of piquancy in the draw for the quarter-finals of the English FA Cup after his current side’s English Championship victory after his victory at league high-flying Derby County on Saturday which maintained The Royals’ unexpected progress.
Clarke’s dismissal as head coach at The Hawthorns left the 51-year-old out of work for a year, the first real blow to a reputation built on his success as assistant manager in Jose Mourinho’s first stint at Chelsea, but he spent that year taking stock.
“I took the time to assess how my career has been so far, where I wanted to go next and how I could improve myself as a coach,” he said.
“But 12 months out was too long and I’m grateful to Reading for giving me the chance to go again with a fresh mentality.”
“There were other opportunities, some where the club I spoke to chose someone else and others that I decided weren’t quite right for me. I waited and thankfully I think I’ve picked up a decent job here. I’m happy with what I’ve done so far but I’d like to think there is a bit more to come.”
In addition to three away wins against Championship opponents in the FA Cup, Clarke’s first eight weeks at Reading have produced three wins, three defeats and three draws in the league. It is not a dramatic turnaround but Clarke has arrested the slide that led to Nigel Adkins being sacked in December.
“This club was in the Premier League two years ago and with a fair break we can be competitive at the top end of the Championship next season,” he added.
Clarke’s new signing Yakubu Aiyegbeni, the former Everton and Middlesbrough striker, from Qatar club Al-Rayyan on a free transfer came up with the winner at Pride Park against his former Middlesbrough and current Rams boss Steve McClaren after the hosts Darren Bent cancelled out a Hal Robson-Kanu opener.