Brian McDermott, just appointed the new manager of Leeds United, would still be in charge at Reading if it was up to the club's chairman, Sir John Madejski.
McDermott's tenure always appeared less secure under the new owner, Anton Zingarevich, and he was dismissed early last month. "I was very sad, I would have stuck with him," Madejski revealed at the Soccerex conference in Manchester. "But Anton knows far more about football than I do and he decided to make the change."
Zingarevich, a Russian who was once a student in the town, bought 51 per cent of the club 15 months ago, providing a cash boost that enabled McDermott to bring in new players and launch a run that ended in the Championship title. In comparison there has been little investment since, but Madejski says it was not for want of trying.
"At Christmas time we went to try to buy players and didn't manage it," he said. "People have this perception that there are players out there who can just be bought and settle in straightaway. It's not as simple as that. You have to be very circumspect about what player you buy, whether they fit into the team, whether the ethos is right. Some work out and some don't."
If they are relegated, he believes Reading will be in a strong financial position: "My philosophy has always been to try to balance the books, and we always adjust players' wages so that if we go down, players also get the knock-back. You can't afford to pay Premiership money in the Championship. But I've been around long enough to realise that my dream of a level playing field [for clubs] is never going to happen. Football is for the super-rich. That's why when I was looking to sell the club I said millionaires need not apply, only billionaires."