Last season represented one of misery for Reading. Having accumulated a paltry six wins and 28 points, they were relegated back to the Championship without a whimper.
One reason for their dire Premiership campaign was a lack of transfer acumen. There was an over-reliance on the side that won them promotion to the Premiership, which saw only eight players come in – many of whom were unable to cope with the rigours of top-level football. Little money was splashed on these players, causing them to have a weak squad unprepared for life in the Premiership.
When struggling for survival, a further four additions were signed in January. When Premiership experience and know-how was needed, they shunned this for imports from abroad and the lower-leagues, bar Stephen Kelly.
With Nigel Adkins now at the helm, there has been a massive improvement on the transfer front. After a scintillating season on-loan at Brighton, veteran left-back Wayne Bridge was signed on a free transfer. The talented – but problematic – Royston Drenthe was their second summer signing, aiding former English international Bridge further up the left flank.
Their third addition is one player familiar to Bundesliga fans. In a £1.6million deal, Hoffenheim’s defensive midfielder Daniel Williams swaps Sinsheim for Berkshire.
The move has surprised and delighted Reading fans, with him adding a sense of intrigue due to his top-level experience. Williams will certainly fit in with Adkins’ passing ethos, as the midfielder completed over 85% of his passing attempts last season, and will add steel to the Royals’ midfield.
With Hoffenheim having underachieved massively last season, they were the German QPR. For the majority of the season, they lacked fight and passion, with their squad consisting of big egos on massive money. Williams was one of their few players to come out of the season with his reputation still intact.
A quick thinker, he was an integral part of the Hoffenheim midfield, with him gathering an impressive 2.5 interceptions a game. This helped to contribute to his ability to form counter-attacks, with him able to stop and start play with minimal fuss.
Williams is also a versatile player, as he is able to function in a centre-midfield role and across the backline, adding to his favoured truncheon of defensive midfield.
One area of concern, though, would be Williams’ temperament. His strong will and desire often leads to over-commitment, as he picked up a total of eight yellow cards last season – an average of one every 2.265 games.
Despite appearing only 21 times for the side bankrolled by Dietmar Hopp, his importance to the team is emphasised through them winning five times when he has featured, as opposed to three wins in 13 games without him.
It is not only the Bundesliga where Williams has left his mark. Jurgen Klinsmann has continued bringing in German-Americans players to the U.S. squad, following up on the efforts of previous USMNT Coach Bob Bradley and a tradition that dates back to the 1990s, when Kaiserslautern’s Thomas Dooley was recruited to play for the U.S. Williams was the first previously uncapped player brought into the national team by Klinsmann, with the Hoffenheim man making his senior international debut in October 2011 against Honduras.
He has made a total of 12 appearances so far for the USA, where he has predominantly featured in his favoured defensive midfield role.
At a cost of £1.6million, Reading may have found themselves a bargain buy, a coup of some sorts. Having proven his ability at Bundesliga level; Williams should become an integral part of a Reading side looking to gain promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt.
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