Clarke, Meulensteen and Dolan early contenders for Reading vacancyby Jack Kitson / 16 December 2014, 09:50Tweet
A whole host of managers have already been thrust into contention for the latest Championship vacancy, which opened up at Reading on Monday night after the club dismissed Nigel Adkins. However, there are three names that have already separeted themselves from the field at this early stage in the Next Reading Manager Market, with Steve Clarke leading the way at the summit, followed by Rene Meulensteen and Eamonn Dolan, who are both in hot pursuit.
Adkins was given his marching orders on Monday just 48 hours after his side slumped to their worst league loss in 15 years: an embarrassing 6-1 thrashing at Birmingham City. The dismal defeat left the Royals 16th in the table, closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs, meaning the club's priorities have significantly changed, with survival the main goal at this point in time. However, a top-6 finish is by no means out of reach in what is a famously topsy-turvy league, and the more optimistic fans can currently back the Royals at 33/1 (Bet365) to win promotion to the top-flight.
The immediate concern for Reading is finding a suitable replacement for Adkins, with Steve Clarke emerging as the early odds-on favourite in the betting. The former West Brom gaffer has been linked with numerous clubs since leaving the Baggies at this stage last season, however he has yet to return to the management arena.
In his debut campaign in charge the 51-year-old impressively led the Black Country club to an 8th place finish with a record Premier League points tally (49). But, the club endured a disappointing start to the following term, which resulted in Clarke losing his job in December.
Certain sections of supporters will be keen for the club's academy boss Eamonn Dolan (6/1 Paddy Power) to step up to the plate and land his first job in football management. The 47-year-old has won numerous plaudits for his work with the youngsters and is now widely expected to be named as the club's caretaker boss, and if so, he will no doubt be given the opportunity to prove himself in the dugout.
Dipping in just before Dolan is Rene Meulensteen at 7/2 with Paddy's. However, the 50-year-old may be considered a risky option, due to his disappointing short spells at Anzhi Makhachkala and Fulham. Elsewhere Tim Sherwood is available at 14/1, whereas Tony Pulis and Jimmy Kebe can be found at 16/1 and 20/1 respectively.