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Reading v Spurs: Royals have a new king but he’s not Russian to splash the cash

Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak (left) and Stoke's Marc Wilson Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak (left) and Stoke's Marc Wilson

By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Sunday, September 16, 2012
11:03 AM

Spotlight on the opposition: Tottenham travel to face newly-promoted Reading at the Madejski Stadium today.

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It has been a momentous year for Reading, who won promotion in May and immediately became the latest top-flight club to receive investment from a wealthy foreign owner.

Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich bought a controlling 51 per cent stake in the Royals during the summer – and he believes the future is bright.

However, Reading’s new benefactor is anxious to tread carefully in the early stages and avoid the boom-and-bust phenomenon which has cost the likes of Leeds and Portsmouth so dearly – particularly when their Premier League status will be so hard to maintain.

“I think Reading are one of the best investment opportunities in football,” said Zingarevich. “They were the one club I thought could grow the most. They were a Championship club so weren’t paying Premier League wages.

“It is really important to manage it in a prudent way. I want to build this club and develop it further. The first thing to do is to stay in the Premier League.”

Former owner Sir John Madejski, who is still the chairman, added: “What I like about the new owners is they want to keep the status quo, not change things radically, but we go forward because they have fantastic ambitions for the club.

“We go for talented young players with a future – that’s the Reading way – and I’m sure that’s something that will be adhered to in the future.”

The result is that, despite the new money, there have been few big-name signings since the Royals won the Championship under manager Brian McDermott, who replaced Brendan Rodgers in December 2009.

Pavel Pogrebnyak is the one exception, following his impressive start to life in the Premier League with Fulham in the second half of last season.

The Russian forward hit five goals in his first three games during his loan spell from Stuttgart, and ended the campaign with six goals in 12 games for the Cottagers.

However, the 28-year-old free agent elected to join Reading during the summer – allegedly due to the offer of £60,000 a week in wages.

Pogrebnyak has already started to repay his new employers and, following a 1-1 draw at home against Stoke on the opening day, he scored in a 4-2 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Otherwise, Reading have been frugal, bringing in the likes of centre-back Adrian Mariappa (Watford) and midfielders Danny Guthrie (Newcastle) and Garath McCleary (Nottingham Forest).

Right-back Chris Gunter has also arrived from Forest for £2.3million, having previously made five appearances for Tottenham between 2007 and 2009 – and the Welshman is likely to be marking his international team-mate Gareth Bale today.

The Royals have strengthened their left-back position too, re-signing Nicky Shorey, who made 296 appearances for the club between 2001 and 2008 before moving to Aston Villa.

However, he faces a tough task to oust the veteran 35-year-old Ian Harte, who has played 476 games during his career with Leeds, Levante, Blackpool, Carlisle and Reading and, as a set-piece specialist, has 76 club goals to his name.

The Royals line-up could also include a couple of players who grew up in Tottenham territory. Captain Jobi McAnuff was born in Edmonton, while Mikele Leigertwood began his career in Haringey Borough’s youth teams.

The verdict: Andre Villas-Boas is desperately seeking his first victory but, with little time to work with his players during the international break, will there be a marked improvement from the last two home draws? Sadly not – 1-1

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs for live updates from the Madejski Stadium

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