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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Royals boss Coppell expecting summer of frustraion

Reading manager Steve Coppell admits he could be in for a frustrating summer as he tries to attract new players for the Royals' first top-flight campaign.

The Berkshire side have taken the Coca-Cola Championship by storm this season, rewriting the record books in their relentless march towards the title and promotion to the Premiership.

On their way to securing a place in the top-flight for the first time in their 135-year history, Coppell's men achieved the earliest promotion in the history of English football following a 1-1 draw against Leicester at the Walkers Stadium on March 25.

A club record run of 33 games without defeat equalled Liverpool's long-standing mark in the second tier, set in the late 19th century.

And the Royals set a new points total for the division with a 2-1 win over QPR on the final day of the Championship season, a result which took their tally to 106 points - one more than Sunderland collected when winning the title in 1999.

Such statistics have attracted numerous plaudits and admirers of the Royals' football this term, but Coppell fears bringing new players to the Madejski Stadium may prove an arduous task.

'A lot of established players - players who are proven and who you know what you are going to get from them - wouldn't want to come because of our situation,' Coppell said.

'We are a promoted side and while some may be excited by that challenge, others will think that we'll go straight back down. They wouldn't take the risk, so that drastically limits our parameters.

'We may be priced out of transfers in other cases, so it could be a frustrating summer to some extent.

'And with the World Cup on the horizon a lot of players won't be moving before the tournament - which leaves it fine before the start of the next season.'

However, Coppell is more optimistic about keeping his record-breaking squad together.

Defender Chris Makin and midfield duo Stephen Hunt and John Oster are set to see their contracts expire in July, but Coppell insists he will be hanging on to his current stars.

The manager added: 'I'm under no pressure to sell so I don't expect to lose anyone and I don't expect anyone to want to leave.

'We have a relatively small but close squad and it's very rare that a promoted team loses players.'