Wally Downes: We're leaving a great set-up behindBy Nick Ive
May 22, 2009
Royals coach insists future is bright for Coppell’s successor
Wally Downes believes Steve Coppell’s backroom staff couldn’t have left Reading in a better position to move forward.
Despite Royals’ failure to clinch promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, the past four years have been the best in the club’s history.
Downes, whose contract as first-team coach was not renewed following Coppell’s departure at the end of the season, told the Evening Post: “I don’t think that the club could have been left in better health unless we had stayed in the Premiership.
“There are good players there who they can sell if they need to balance the books, although I wouldn’t have thought they do.
“And there are good youngsters coming through. Nigel Gibbs has done a great job. He has developed them from Academy players into good professionals.
“We have all helped put those building blocks in place and had the most successful years the club has known.
“It has been a great time, but that has come thanks to the efforts of all the staff and that includes the girls in the office.
“When they moved to the training ground they were always very supportive and they played their part.”
Although Reading failed to regain their Premier League status, this season has been the sixth most successful for the Berkshire club.
But Downes admitted: “On a scale of one to 10 in terms of disappointment it was 11. We set out at the start of the season and the target was getting promotion.
“You could put it in context and say it has still been one of the most successful in 138 years at the club, but from the staff’s point of view we see it as failure because we didn’t go up.”
Coppell’s departure came as no great shock, but the club then made the decision to let Downes and fellow coach Kevin Dillon go.
“I am not surprised Steve went,” said Downes. “I haven’t spoken to him about the situation, but perhaps he might not have stayed had we gone up.
“I can understand the reasoning behind the decision to let us go. It is disappointing from a personal point of view to lose your job, but it is not acrimonious. The club has decided to take a different route and a different direction.
“I have been around in football long enough to realise how things work. The club feels they can do better with a different coaching staff. That is their opinion.”
Downes is set to go undergo surgery on his shoulder and knee over the next few weeks.
He said: “Since November I have been looking to have an operation on my shoulder and I also need a cartilage operation on my knee. That has just come from the daily grind of being out on the training pitch.
“So I will go under the knife during the summer and sort that out. But of course I want to get back into football – that’s my job, it’s what I do.”
The 47-year-old, who has also been manager of Brentford before he was brought over to Reading to coach, added: “Hopefully people will be aware of what was achieved at Reading and before that and there will be interest.
“The opportunity to manage a football club doesn’t always come along.
“When I took the Brentford job my task was to try to keep them alive and afloat, and I did that.
“When results go against you that is soon forgotten. If I get the chance to manage again I would want it to be somewhere where there is an opportunity to be successful on the pitch and not just keeping a club alive. It would have to be an attractive opportunity for me.
Andre Bikey, who was sent off in the play-off first leg at Burnley and then tore off his Royals shirt on the pitch, has had his ban extended to five games by the FA.
He was also warned about his future conduct.