I FEARED for Paul Clement the moment Nigel Howe was sworn back in as Reading FC chief executive.

The fact Howe’s return as CEO was confirmed last night and Clement was sacked early this morning cannot be a coincidence.

I understand Howe did not see eye-to-eye with Ron Gourlay who resigned in acrimonious circumstances a few weeks ago.

Clement was his own man, but he was inextricably linked with Gourlay from their time together at Chelsea.

It is widely thought Clement was on holiday in Florida when Gourlay called him up to offer him the Reading job over the phone when Jaap Stam was sacked in March.

When Howe was reappointed as Gourlay’s replacement yesterday, so a chain of events began that would end with Clement losing his job.

If I’m honest, I thought Royals may have pulled the trigger before the last international break.

When they returned another paltry haul of two points from three games after a couple of draws with Wigan and Stoke City was clearly the final straw – along with Gourlay leaving in the middle of that run.

Local Berkshire:

Steve Bruce is the early bookies' favourite to replace Paul Clement.

It seems obvious Reading were not willing to give Clement the January transfer window either.

By making the decision now, it means the next manager should have much-needed cash to spend to strengthen the squad and, hopefully, climb the table.

Clement was a likeable guy. He was approachable, bright and happy to chat about football until his heart was content.

But this rocky spell at Reading will not have helped him cast off his image as an excellent coach or number two – but not a manager.

He is still yet to see a full season out as the main man in the hotseat.

He lasted 33 games at Derby, 41 at Swansea and now 30 at Reading.

His win ratio with Royals (23.3%) was the lowest of the lot compared to 42.4% with the Rams and 34.1% with the Swans.

Many of his team selections also came in for strong criticism from fans and the media alike.

So for all the technical speak and talk of systems and putting performance above results, the Clement experiment had clearly run its course.

Steve Bruce is the early favourite with the bookmakers to become the next Royals manager.

Slavisa Jokanovic is another strong candidate given his success with Fulham in the Championship last season.

Without being too sentimental, I would like to see Phil Parkinson given the job. If not, Graeme Murty.

Local Berkshire:

Bolton Wanderers boss and ex-Reading skipper Phil Parkinson.

Both are former club legends and captains and both have earned plenty of credit in the manager’s hotseat, Parky for a little longer than Murts.

Whoever comes in will have his work cut out.

Reading have been on a downward spiral for a couple of seasons now and there has been a disconnect with disgruntled fans who feel the club has lost its identity.

That is the reason Howe was brought back in – to help rekindle the glory days of the past and to re-establish links with the local community that had been severed under Gourlay’s watch.

And to achieve that aim the club’s Chinese owners must have felt a clean break – and a new manager – were both desperately needed.

Latest odds for the next Reading FC manager: Steve Bruce 10/3, Phil Parkinson 9/2, Francesco Guidolin 6/1, Graeme Murty 7/1, Slavisa Jokanovic 8/1, Alan Pardew 10/1, Mark Warburton 12/1, Brian McDermott 16/1, Mark Hughes 16/1, Nigel Pearson 16/1, Sam Allardyce 16/1, Steve Coppell 16/1, David Moyes 18/1, Danny Cowley 18/1, Nathan Jones 22/1, Gary Megson 25/1, Harry Redknapp 25/1, Steve Cotterill 25/1.