The club's new Russian owners wasted little time in getting the Reading support on side by signing one of their own in striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, whom the onus will be on make the Royal's second jaunt into the Premier League a prolonged one. Exciting youngsters Garath McLeary and Chris Gunter have joined as well, as has club idol Nicky Shorey. Talks of exits has been limited, perhaps a sign of the true depth of the squad rather than individual loyalty.
Against inferior opposition throughout the summer, two wins and a single goal for Pogrebnyak represents a difficult preparation period for Brian McDermott's men. A thrashing of AFC Wimbledon and a victory over Crystal Palace has sandwiched draws against footballing superpowers CDR Quarteirense of the Portuguese third division and League One's AFC Bournemouth.
Reasons why they'll be successful
Last season's promotion from The Championship was underpinned by an unmatched intensity in Reading's play where they intimidated their opponents at home, and stifled them on the road. The tenacity Noel Hunt and the lightning quick Jimmy Kebe will give most defences a hard time, while Adam Federici is sure to be given ample opportunity to enhance his shot-stopping reputation.
Reasons why not
No doubt an enthusiastic squad, but McDermott has a limited amount of Premier League know-how among his ranks. Old stager Ian Harte is the most experienced in the top flight, but has played seven minutes in the Premier League during the past five years. Shorey and Brynjar Gunnarsson are the only surviving members of the last top flight outing to make more than 10 appearances over the two seasons. Any reliance on Kaspars Gorkss in defence will spark problems.
Having seen the likes of Swansea City and Norwich City succeed playing a decent style of football, Royals fans will be forgiven for believing they can replicate those gone before. The reality is without a base of knowledge of the Premier League and a deluge of investment on the pitch; the tools the club currently has to work with means survival must be the glass ceiling of their ambition.
A spirited, entering campaign ending with failure. 18th