Reading Academy boss Eamonn Dolan was firmly in the frame for the Elland Road gig earlier this summer before Massimo Cellino fell in love with the idea of David Hockaday.
The 46 year-old’s managerial experience at senior level is relatively limited; he stepped in briefly as Royals caretaker after Brian McDermott was sacked in 2013, and also boasts an impressive campaign with Exeter City – the club he ended his playing days with – in 2003/04, steadying the ship after coming in as caretaker the year previous to narrowly miss out on a play-off spot in the Conference league.
But the former Republic of Ireland junior has been at the heart of Reading’s academy since 2004 and in that time the Madjeski outfit have produced a number of impressive talents, including Shane Long, Alex Pearce, James Henry, Jem Karacan, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Obita, Alex McCarthy, Hal-Robson-Kanu and Ben Hamer – all of whom are now regulars at either Championship or Premiership level. Click here to view the full list of academy graduates.
Dolan’s overall track-record is impressive and perhaps most importantly to Cellino, he’s a coach – rather than a manager – who has worked under the a Director of Football before. Reading employ one, as did Exeter back in 2004.
But Reading were incredibly reluctant to see him leave earlier this summer, with Director of Football Nicky Hammond describing Dolan as “an integral part of our club“. Relinquishing the Irishman from the Madjeski would take a £400,000 compensation fee, which proved too rich for Cellino’s blood just a matter of months ago.