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McDermott Sacking: Huge Gamble for Reading

I returned home on Monday evening to be met with the news of Brian McDermott’s dismissal from Reading.

Understandable one would think, on the back of four successive league defeats that have left Reading 19th in the Premier League, joint on 23 points with bottom club QPR. We must bear in mind, however, that we are in an age when knee-jerk decisions are something of the norm, and clubs have fallen into a mind-set that a change of manager is the only solution to their troubles. It is often famously told that it took Sir Alex Ferguson four years to win his first trophy, the 1990 FA Cup, and had his side not recorded victory that day, he would have been sacked. The rest is history.

Now, I’m not saying the Brian McDermott is another Alex Ferguson, far from it, I am merely trying to point out that patience and support are far more effective than mindless sackings. Reading, for all their qualities, quite clearly have one of, if not the weakest squad in the league. It was always assumed they would find themselves in a relegation scrap come the end of the season, and yet they see this as reason to sack their manager.

It begs the question of: what now? The prospect of taking over a relegation threatened team with only nine games remaining is hardly an attractive one, and few managers will be interested. Unless Reading produce a small miracle, the new boss will have only a relegation blot on his record to mark his time there.

So what, then, is to gain from sacking the manager this late on? Reading do not have a strong enough team to survive in the Premier League, and I would be very surprised to see them still there next season. It seems the sensible thing to do would have been to let McDermott continue until the end of the season, at which point the directors can stop to analyse the direction to which the club is going. If, then, they should feel that McDermott’s services are no longer required, then let him go, leaving prospective managers with a summer to get to know the club, and dip into the transfer market if possible.

McDermott may not have be a world beater but he was part of depleting group managers in the Premier League that share one characteristic: they are English. Only Alan Pardew, Harry Redknapp and Sam Allardyce remain in the top flight of English football, as home grown managers continue to be replaced by foreign ones. In the past few years we have seen the demise of Englishmen such as Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Alan Shearer, Gary Megson, and many more. As this happens the Spanish league is being populated by more and more Spaniards, and the same situation in Germany. Are we doing something wrong?

In terms of replacements, the front runner seems to be ex-Swindon Town boss Paulo Di Canio. The fiery Italian would certainly inject some fight into Reading’s game, but no manager would want to take charge of a team in this situation. Will they find a suitable replacement? It’s too soon to say. McDermott’s dismissal may turn out to be a stroke of genius, but in my opinion there is no manager available that can do a better job than he was already doing.

It has been a lively few months for Reading. It may seem a long time ago, but we must not forget that Brian McDermott and Adam Le Fondre were named January Manager and Player of the month respectively. It just goes to show the speed at which things can change within football, especially in a league that shows no mercy. As for the team, they must stay focused and get on with the task the faces them. Who will lead them is still unknown, but all their energy and attention should be focused on one thing: stay in the Premier League.