Norwich City legend set for yet another Mark Hughes reunion at Reading?
PUBLISHED: 12:26 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 09 October 2019
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Norwich City legend Mark Bowen has found himself in the thick of the action at Reading less than two months since he was appointed sporting director, with head coach Jose Gomes sacked.
Reports in Portugal overnight suggested Gomes has already been dismissed but the Berkshire club didn't confirm the news until 3pm today, with the Royals in the Championship relegation zone after seven defeats from their opening 11 games.
Former City left-back Bowen was confirmed as sporting director in mid-August, having operated as a consultant during the second half of last season to help Gomes steer Reading clear of trouble.
However, a poor start to the season has seen Bowen's long-term colleague Mark Hughes installed by various bookmakers as the favourite to be the next Royals manager, because of the duo's long association.
A club statement said: "Owner Mr Yongge Dai has made the difficult decision to part company with Gomes and make a change at first team level.
"We would like to sincerely thank Jose for his hard work during his tenure as manager at Reading Football Club and we wish him the very best of luck in his future career."
Mark Hughes quickly became favourite with most bookmakers to be the next Reading manager, as the Manchester United legend had Bowen as his assistant while in charge of Wales and clubs including Blackburn, Manchester City, Stoke and Southampton. However, Sky Sports later reported that Hughes was not in the running.
Bowen, who scored 27 goals in 399 games for Norwich between 1987 and 1996, had been speaking about his role as a sporting director in an interview with BBC Sport recently - when he was asked about Hughes.
"I haven't seen so much of Mark lately because he is up in north Wales enjoying his down-time - I think he is playing a lot of golf," Bowen said.
"I don't know where, but I have no doubt when the time is right, Mark will get back in (to management)."
The 55-year-old continued: "If you had asked me in the summer, I thought I would miss the coaching and maybe if Mark had got a job and asked me to go with him, then it would have been a case of what do I do.
"But at the moment I am very comfortable with what I am doing at Reading. I'm enjoying it.
"It's just a general thing where we are thinking can we raise the bar everywhere - in terms of the way people behave, the infrastructure and the way things are set up."
The sporting director role is one that Canaries fans are familiar with, due to the success of Stuart Webber in the same role at Carrow Road since 2017, working alongside head coach Daniel Farke.
"The old model of a club chairman, the manager - that's gone now," Bowen explained. "They have sporting directors all over Europe - all over the world - but now English clubs are starting to buy into the situation.
"I guess the easy description of my job is that every single thing to do with the football side of the club falls on my shoulders."
Reading's transfer activity was restricted by a 'soft transfer embargo' during the summer, imposed by the EFL while the club tried to settle its financial issues.
That came to an end in mid-July and allowed Bowen and Gomes to bring in some reenforcements before the transfer deadline in early August, including George Puscas from Inter Milan for a club record fee of around £8m and fellow striker Lucas Joao from Sheffield Wednesday for a reported £5million.
"It used to be that everyone looked at agents and said they are ruining the game," Bowen said of the club's transfer dealings.
"But they are not going to go away. They are here. Players rely on them heavily and if you are going to be a successful club, you have to have a relationship with all your players' agents as well as agents who haven't got players in your club.
"These are the people who in a lot of ways control the game.
"The game is all about players. The flow of players is 99.9 per cent determined by agents, so if you have no relationship with agents, you are in trouble."
The City Hall of Fame member admitted he was finding it difficult to keep away from training as well, due to his coaching instincts.
"Believe me it's hard because you look out the window and you want to get out and have a look, but it's not my job," he said.
"I have conversations every day with Jose - our relationship is really strong. He talks to me about his tactics and team selections and asks my opinion.
"But I don't think it's right to go and watch training. I am very much aware that players don't want to look to the side and see a sporting director."