At the time of writing, Reading do not have a manager. With academy coach Martin Kuhl in charge for Saturday’s game against Preston, the new manager is likely to be announced in the next few days.
After initial speculation suggesting Nigel Pearson was set to take the helm, and then reports which strongly suggested former manager Brian McDermott would be brought back to the Madejski, at the moment it’s anyones guess who will eventually take charge.
It would therefore seem an opportune time for me to give my two cents to the discussion, and I believe the time is right to rehire McDermott.
First of all, I believe he was unfairly treated at the end of his first spell in charge, and that sacking him was the wrong decision. While Reading were admittedly struggling in the Premier League, with plenty of fans blaming the manager’s tactics for these poor performances, the fact is that most managers would have found life difficult with that squad in the top league.
There was simply nowhere near enough real, experienced quality in the side who had played at that level before. Ian Harte, Jason Roberts and, to some extent, Adam Federici were pretty much the only ones who had had much game time in the Premier League during Reading’s last top-flight adventure, and McDermott wasn’t really given particularly good support during the summer, when most of the players signed were overseen by the new owner Anton Zingarevich and his team of European scouts.
It is important to note, however, that the players’ attitude under McDermott was exemplary, and there was clearly no doubt that they all hugely enjoyed playing for him. This could be seen in the various games they won, both in 11/12 and 12/13, from losing positions, and the amount of late goals they managed to score in those years.
They may not have had the most quality in the Championship when they clinched the title from Southampton in the final weeks, but they surely had the most desire, hunger, togetherness and fighting spirit.
His work in the previous years is constantly overlooked, taking over from Brendan Rodgers after the Northern Irishman’s miserable few months in charge of the Royals and leading them to safety in the second half of that season. On the way Reading played fast, direct and swashbuckling football, and this carried on into the next season, when McDermott’s side were so agonisingly denied in the play-off final by Swansea City (with Rodgers doing a better job with them than he ever did at the Madejski Stadium).
In fact, as mentioned before the only really lengthy period of dissatisfaction with McDermott came in the spring of 2013, when fans could see the side falling without much of a fight out of the Premier League, and were looking for someone to blame.
They seemed to ignore the previous two-and-a-half years of continuous progress that had brought the Royals back to the promised land, and the many brilliant memories and moments that all Reading fans will treasure from those seasons; beating Liverpool away in the FA Cup and then doing the same to Everton, winning 3-0 at Cardiff in the play off semi final, that glorious spring of 2012 when the league was won so convincingly, and then the comebacks and late goals in the Premier League.
A Reading man through and through, who had been with the club for almost a decade before taking charge back in January 2010, McDermott was harshly treated when he was last in charge and now deserves the chance to see if he can lead the Royals back to where many of their fans still think they belong – the Premier League.