The Sum of the Parts

What makes a team greater than “The Sum of the Parts”?

Ten years ago was a special time for Reading Football Club, a provincial team with a long but largely undistinguished history.

Suddenly, all the pieces of the football jigsaw clicked into place to create what was virtually a perfect team – a team that won the Football League Championship in style, amassing a record-breaking total of 106 points in the process. The next season, their first ever in the Premier League, they confounded pundits and opponents alike by finishing eighth and narrowly missing out on European qualification.

That was a perfect time to be associated with Reading Football Club, a time when every week seemed to bring new highs and new wonders. But it was short-lived, and the following season they were relegated back to the Championship.

In the years since then I’ve been striving to discover exactly what made that team quite so good. Just what happened in this brief period to transform a group of relatively unknown players into such a perfect team?

Most of them were either at the start of their careers or coming to the end of largely undramatic ones, so just what happened at Reading to make them all have the best years of their careers all at precisely the same time? What was the particular combination of factors that came together simultaneously to make this team so much greater than the sum of its parts?

This book, The Sum of the Parts, tries to explain that – to discover the ingredients that go into making a team different from a collection of players.

So it’s not just an account of what happened over those three incredible years, it’s also an in-depth analysis of how and especially why it happened, gained from extensive interviews with those on the pitch and those behind the scenes making the key decisions.

As well as recording everything I’ve discovered about what made it all possible, I want to give other Reading supporters a chance to contribute to this project, and to make their own contributions to the text to give a range of voices, opinions and memories other than my own. So I’m using crowd-funding and the “Loyal Royals” panel as part of this project.

I’m excited by this, and hope you will be too and will support it – whether you’re a Reading supporter who wants to celebrate such a great time in the club’s history, someone interested in football and how it operates or just someone interested in what makes a team greater than “The Sum of the Parts