Liam Moore: The Reading captain fast approaching a career crossroads


The Mark Bowen era is underway at Reading. Three matches unbeaten and hope may be re-emerging at the Madjeski. However for the Royals skipper, he’s seen this all before.

At 26 years of age, Liam Moore is entering his prime as a centre-back. With 234 first-team appearances under his belt, the Loughborough born player has built-up the substantial experience a defender and particularly a captain, requires.

And as he enters this new phase, this new chapter of his career, Moore needs to kick-on again. Being the leader of the team, the Reading faithful are looking for him to spearhead a Royals rejuvenation.

Can he be the focal point of the turning of tides or will he continue to be part of a sinking ship?

While optimism is slowly gathering in the blue half of Berkshire, it would be understandable if Liam Moore had tentative reservations. After all, he experienced this situation just 18 months ago.

The appointment of Paul Clement was met with a particular buzz. A relatively young, vibrant manager who had a bold vision the supporters could get behind. Winning his first two home games – what Bowen has done – Clement appeared to have revolutionised a wilting Reading squad.

Despite the defender winning player of the season, Reading still finished 20th. In the midst of the club’s treading water period, Moore explored his options elsewhere. Amid interest from Premier League Brighton, he handed in a transfer request.

But what followed was an unusual period between the player and club’s relationship. Three bids from the Seagulls were rejected and out of nowhere, Moore signed a new and improved five-year-contract.

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Moore is a fans favourite at the Madjeski – Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

The fact the former Leicester man opted to commit when it all but seemed he was forcing a way out raised questions. Perhaps he was given fresh promises? Maybe it was Clement’s brand-new plan? Who knows, but the situation Moore finds himself in now isn’t the one that was imagined.

The season after, under Jose Gomes for the most part, it was the same result. 20th place. Another relegation dogfight, another season of doubt.

Reading are currently embarking on their third season at the wrong end of the table. With their head just above the para-pit, another battle for survival is set to ensue. It seems the club are stuck in a cycle that is yet to be broken, no matter the man in the dugout.

Although Bowen has had smooth start to his tenure, there is a feeling that at some point, his side will revert to type.

Despite being blessed with technical talent, Ovie Ejaria and John Swift the shining examples, Reading have established a reputation of being too soft, too naive. While that can be improved, it is perhaps a more complex  task to change a side’s mentality, rather than the tactical tweaks of it.

That’s where Liam Moore comes in. Appointed captain at the beginning of the campaign, the 26-year-old is now the figurehead. The value of what Moore brings to an inexperienced side cannot be underestimated.

With an average age of 24.5 – the third youngest in the league – the defender provides a particular maturity not seen in the rest of the group.

The importance of Moore was exemplified in their 2-1 victory against Millwall. While the captain was on the pitch, Reading looked comfortable. 2-0 up, cruising and goalkeeper Rafael Cabral hadn’t faced a shot on target.

But when Moore limped off with a shoulder injury with 20 minutes to go, all hell broke loose.

The momentum of the game had completely shifted. The mood in the ground had suddenly turned ominous and the once staunch Reading defence appeared fragile. The goal conceded came from the left-sided channel, the area Liam Moore usually operates in.

Perhaps this was a sign of his significance and why the Reading board fought tooth and nail to retain his services. The loss of Moore would be inconceivable, given that the squad is already vulnerable.

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Reading are set to fight relegation for the third successive season – Photo: Getty Images

Although the collective far outweighs the individual, it could be time for Liam Moore to think selfishly. With stagnation an ever-concerning factor in his career, the centre-back requires time to evaluate his options.

Look at it this way. Preston and West Brom are strong favourites to achieve automatic promotion this season. Would Alex Neil and Slaven Bilic refuse Moore and stick with their own centre-backs instead? Are Preston’s Tom Clarke and Baggies Kyle Bartley better defenders?

While those questions create doubt, one thing is for certain. Liam Moore should be further up the footballing ladder than he currently is. A player of immense technical ability with the leadership skills to match, the time is now for the Loughborough man to step-up.

Although the loyalty to Reading is commendable and embodies the characteristics of the man, is it realistic for him to maximise his talent remaining at the Madejski?

The previous examples in recent times answer a resounding no. But under Mark Bowen, the script may change.

Will Liam Moore roll the Reading dice one more time or finally seek a new chapter?


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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