Having returned from a loan spell out with Reading in the first half of the 2018/19 campaign, Southampton Academy graduate Josh Sims has recently spoken about the spell and how difficult he found it on a personal level.
Having headed out over the summer to Reading with both Sims and the club believing that it would be a good opportunity for him to get more regular game time, having been on the fringes of first team duties with us, the 22-year-old ultimately made only five starting appearances, with a further 13 showings from the substitutes bench but his time with them was certainly far from perfect as he actually worked under three different managers during the spell.
Speaking to getreading, he explained.
“It was quite unstable at Reading at the time. I had three managers and I wasn’t even there for six months. When I first went there, I was coming off the bench. I didn’t expect to go straight into the starting 11 and then I worked my way into the first team. I played a few games under Paul Clement, but he got sacked and that set me back a bit. The new manager – Scott Marshall – stepped up from the U23s. He changed things around, then I got myself back in the team but then he went back down to the U23s and they brought in another new manager. All three managers were very different with different formations of how they wanted to play and set up the team. When you think you’re doing well off the bench and up for starting the next game, and then you don’t, it’s difficult to keep going. There was so much change it was hard for me to cement my place in the team. I learned a lot, but I’m happy now to be back at Southampton and playing.”
Loan spells aren’t always about game time in some ways and getting out of a comfort zone and having the experience of being away, is definitely a positive that Sims has taken from his time away this year, as he far more appreciates what Southampton offer younger players now.
“I thought at the time it was a good chance for me. I was in and around the first team at Southampton for a couple of seasons, but I got my knee injury that held me back a bit. I thought it was the right time to go out on loan and play more football. The club thought it was a good opportunity as well, so it was a decision we made together. Unfortunately, the football didn’t go how I wanted, but off the pitch I learned a lot and it was an eye-opener to see how other clubs work. Coming through the Southampton academy, it’s a brilliant club who do much for you, which is nice. But not every club is like that. We’re fortunate to have brilliant pitches and all the facilities, but it’s not like that everywhere else. I said it when I came back to Southampton, when you see other clubs it makes you even more determined to cement your place in the team, really knuckle down and stay in the team. It made me focus and work harder at Southampton, 100 per cent.”
Having returned to the club in January, he continued to be patient but saw his reward come under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, and having taken his chance in early March, Sims has now featured six times for our gaffer as the season comes to a close, and he’ll be looking for more next year.