Incoming Royals boss Mark Bowen hopes for a change of fortunes as Reading host Preston


Relinquishing his duties as sporting director to become manager, Mark Bowen takes the reigns at the Madjeski for the first time.

A run of five losses in six games saw Jose Gomes sacked as Reading boss last week.

Currently trapped in the relegation zone, the Royals moved quickly to seek a replacement.

And the alternative came in the form of someone already within the football club; step forward sporting director Mark Bowen.

Working the majority of his 17-year coaching career as a number two to the likes of Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes, Bowen now steps-up to become the number one for the first time.

However, it is fair to say the appointment has not gone down well with the Reading faithful.

Accusations of the 55-year-old utilising his inherent power to sack Gomes in order to appoint himself, supporters have widely regarded the move as suspicious.

Meanwhile, Preston’s current state of affairs could not be more contrasting.

Boss Alex Neil finds his side sitting pretty in third place, despite having a budget that is somewhat restricted compared to their rivals.

The fourth longest-serving manager in the league, the patience shown in Neil is certainly bearing fruit.

Team news

The Berkshire outfit are without Tyler Blackett (unknown) for the clash against Preston. The visitors travel south with Tom Clarke (knee) and Louis Moult (knee) unavailable, the latter being out for the season.

Speaking in his first press conference, Mark Bowen has strongly dismissed claims he appointed himself:

“I’ve been a player and a coach for 40 years and I saw my reputation getting burned away in a matter of minutes!

“I was the sporting director.

“I had no say whatsoever in Jose Gomes’ dismissal.

“I was informed by the board eight days ago that the decision had been made and to get on with the process of identifying managerial candidates, which I proceeded to.

“It got to the weekend and I got a phone call from the owner saying that he had had a think about things and wanted to know if I could take on the job. I didn’t think twice.”

Preston boss Alex Neil revealed early season form has made his job easy:

“My job when I go out onto the training field is easy; I watch them all train as hard as they can and the guys who are the best players, who do the best in training, who apply themselves and have the most effect on what we do will be given an opportunity.

“When they do, it is up to them to do it in front of everybody.”


Preston edge the previous meetings between the two, beating Reading 24 times. The Royals have triumphed one less, winning 23 matches and drawing on 12 occasions.


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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