The Royals travel to Old Trafford this evening for their FA Cup fifth round clash as underdogs.
The Red Devils have opened up a 12-point gap between themselves and local rivals City at the top of the table with 12 games yet to be played.
McDermott said that he is shocked by the buffer United have built, and that he feels they have been driven to succeed by last season’s title disappointment:
“It’s a surprise to see United so far ahead in the Premier League when you look at the calibre of opposition they’re up against,” He told Sky Sports.
“They’re 12 points in front with 12 games to go and Sir Alex Ferguson won’t take anything for granted, there’s no doubt about that.
“To move on the way they did from last season, to take that on to the pitch and that hurt, tells you the power of the people there.
“The hurt that day would have given them a tough summer, but you have two ways of going – you either go under as a club or get stronger. United have got stronger.
United are often praised for their ‘never say die’ attitude, which has seen them rescue countless points in the closing stages of games.
Reading have gained a similar reputation of late, with the newly promoted side making some stunning last gasp comebacks to salvage precious points in their battle against relegation.
McDermott praised Fergie’s attitude and drew some similarities between their two sides:
“Sir Alex has an incredible will to win and you can see that from the way he is on the touchline.
“Whatever he puts into the game, they never feel like they are beaten. We’re trying to get that too.
“Luckily we have had that over the last few years. We’ve kept going in the last few games particular.”