Preston North End will need to be wary of Mark Bowen’s Reading boys

George Puscas arrived in the summer from Inter Milan
George Puscas arrived in the summer from Inter Milan

Alex Neil may have to be wary of the new manager ‘bounce’ when his Preston North End side travel to Reading on Saturday.

Having just appointed new boss Mark Bowen, the Royals will be hoping for an instant impact.

They currently sit 22nd in the Championship and are without a win in six, prompting them to sack Jose Gomes.

Reading have bucked the trend of sacking managers 
after playing PNE, with 
Aston Villa – twice – Birmingham, Bolton and Barnsley, just over a week ago, all getting rid in recent memory.

Bowen has already had to defend himself in the role though, ‘stepping up,’ as the Reading club website describes it, from his role as sporting director.

To many on the outside, it is easy to assume that Bowen put himself into the role, but the Royals’ new head coach says that is not the case – even speaking to a few potential replacements prior to his appointment.

He said: “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.

“As the week went on, I spoke to two or three and was going through that process.

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

“I know the club and I know the players. I think we’re in a false position. It took me two seconds to say yes.”

Should Reading emerge victorious on Saturday, North End would be only the second victims at the Madejski this season.

Reading’s 3-0 win over 
Cardiff is their only scalp on home turf so far, back in the middle of August.

Home fans will be hoping to see them perform as they did in that game, more specifically in the form of their highly rated frontman.

George Puscas was brought in this summer for £7.5m from Inter Milan, but so far his only goals have come in their win over Cardiff.

He scored in spectacular fashion, cutting in from the right wing, before opening his body and firing high into the far corner to open his account. Puscas’ new boss has faith in the young Romanian, who scored the opening goal in his country’s 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands in the week.

“He is getting in the right positions and I know it is an old cliché, but if he keeps getting in those positions and the chances, then the goals will start coming for him,” he said.

“Once his goals kick in, there is no reason why he can’t be a 15 to 20- goal-a-season man which this club has craved. He is a goalscorer and he scored again for his country against the Faroe Islands so that will do him good as well.

“I think with George, as a team and as a group, we have to try and give him every opportunity to bring the best out of him and create more chances for him if we can.”