One club’s loss is another one’s gain. Reading received a huge boost this week when manager Brian McDermott snubbed the advances of Premier League Wolves and signed a new deal at the Madejski Stadium that will keep him at the club until 2015.
The boss told BBC Berkshire “There was a lot of talk, but I didn’t say anything, I’m happy it has been done and we can get on with football.” This is typical of the man himself. McDermott doesn’t draw any attention to himself; he’s not a Neil Warnock or Ian Holloway type of character. No journalists will be chasing his car down the street as he’s not going to make any shocking quotes to provide front page news.
Certainly McDermott stays out of the limelight, indeed people often forget that he’s even in charge. The Reading fans certainly don’t however. His reputation is growing and growing, as is his popularity with the supporters. Having taken over from Brendan Rodgers in 2009 with the club in the relegation zone after the loss of their Premiership status, he turned around the club’s fortunes around, leading the side to victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup during his first month in charge. A rolling contract then followed and McDermott guided the side to a comfortable position in the Championship. The 2010/11 season represented a remarkable return for McDermott and his team. Despite a poor start, they enjoyed a run of eight successive wins in the middle of the season to help the side to 5th position and therefore a playoff spot. They ended Cardiff’s hopes (and cost Dave Jones his job) in the semi final, but lost out to Swansea in the final at Wembley 4-2. They also performed wonders in the FA Cup again, losing out to Manchester City in the quarter finals.
The summer wasn’t ideal for the Royals however, as key defender Matt Mills moved on to Leicester while Shane Long also secured a switch to the Premier League with West Brom. Events off the field have also created a difficult situation at the club as John Madejski, the long serving owner, has now relinquished control of Reading. Russian Anton Zingarevich of Thames Sports Investment has taken over, making Reading the 20th club in the Premiership and Championship to go under foreign investment.
Whilst no-one is expecting Manchester City proportions of spending, Reading fans are cautiously optimistic this could give them a significant financial boost for an assault on the Premiership. Jason Roberts joined in January and has proved an astute signing, grabbing 4 goals in 5 games since his loan switch from Blackburn. This has come at a welcome time for the club, as Reading have struggled to find the net on occasion this season, indeed their top scorer, Simon Church, only has 6 goals.
With such upheaval behind the scenes, it is testament to the managerial skills of McDermott that his side are climbing the table. Reading now lie third, just four points behind second place West Ham, and five behind Southampton with a game in hand. Promotion and a return to England’s top division is a real possibility and the Royals are on top form at the moment, hunting down those automatic places.
This has undoubtedly contributed to McDermott’s decision to stay at the club. Wolves are by no means guaranteed Premier League status, as they are languishing in the drop zone and therefore the sides could pass each other in swapping divisions. Under new ownership, the club could really go places and therefore avoid the situation where the best players move onto bigger clubs. Reading lost a lot of the stars from the Steve Coppell era and it would be nice for supporters to envisage a situation where McDermott could build a strong team in the top flight.
McDermott has promoted a really positive vibe around the club, highlighting this in his decision to stay. He said “This is my club, the fans are really important to me and I have great staff, players and we work so well together. The big thing for me was my relationship with the new owner Anton. I had a conversation with him on Sunday and another one on Monday. He said something very important to me and after that there was only one place I was going to be at.”
If the Reading revolution continues under McDermott, Wolves will rue the day the man who draws little attention to himself decided to stay at the Madejski Stadium. Prepare for the sight of the Royals back in the Premiership as the man in charge knows what he’s doing.