Here Wiggo! Why Reading FC are like Team SkyBy Jonny Fordham
July 26, 2012
Great sportsmen do not always lead from the front.
In team sports like football, there is always a hero amongst a successful team – the headline-grabbing player who steals the show and who fans pin all their hopes on in times of need.
Reading’s achievements, however, have been built on a squad of players whose traits are remarkably self-sacrificing.
Much has been said about Bradley Wiggins’ historic victory in the Tour De France.
Sir Chris Hoy labelled his triumph as ‘the greatest individual sporting achievement by a British athlete.’
But Wiggo didn’t do it alone.
He will take the headlines and will be remembered in the history books – but it was his whole network of Team Sky riders such as Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome who gave their devoted support.
Much like Royals last season, they didn’t win the Championship with just 11 men on the pitch.
Behind the scenes, pros like Brynjar Gunnarsson embody this character.
And Reading manager Brian McDermott sees similarities in the ethos of Sky’s Tour win and that attitude entrenched in his players.
“I know all about the Tour de France,” says McDermott.
“Sometimes part of being a team means you have to be selfless.
“You have to do a job for the team, which is the most important thing.
“The Cavendish example is a great example.
“And here, last season Brynjar was good for me to have around. It was also good for the players to have that leadership around them.
“There are a number of people who are in football for themselves, but if you look at our group we try to develop an ethos that is away from that side of things.
“Football is an individual game within the framework of a team. We encourage individuality, but we always encourage everyone to work together.”
Moving away from the business model of selling their best players to bankroll the club, Reading are ready to build one of their most competitive teams ever.
But McDermott isn’t going to break with tradition when it comes to doing so.
“I thanked the players for signing for us and I thanked the players that stayed with us,” was what he said to the players before their first training session in Portugal
“That’s a funny thing to say, but if you know the history of this club for the past two years then you can see why.
“Not having to sell players this summer has been fantastic.
“To be able to work with the group that I have got, at this stage of the season, it’s phenomenal.”
Each player he has brought in has to fit in.
The mentality. The ability. The temperament. Everything has to be right to compliment what is already in place.
“It might look easy, but it’s not,” added McDermott.
“It’s a difficult thing to do as you have to look at people’s charters and know what makes them tick.
“Everyone has to feel part of what we are doing here.
“This summer we have been able to do some great business.
“Nicky Hammond has done a great job tying up all the deals and getting them all done.
“We’re really happy to be in this position at this moment in time.”
It’s a position that not even Hollywood scriptwriters could have dreamt of 12 months ago.