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McDermott Sacking: Timing is Everything

By Dan Wheeler



READING, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Manager Brian McDermott of Reading looks surprised after a decision doesn't go Reading's way during the Barclays Premier League match between Reading and Aston Villa at Madejski Stadium on March 9, 2013 in Reading, England
READING, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Manager Brian McDermott of Reading looks surprised after a decision doesn't go Reading's way during the Barclays Premier League match between Reading and Aston Villa at Madejski Stadium on March 9, 2013 in Reading, England

I wrote a piece on this site back in February about how well Reading were doing in their fight to avoid relegation. They had just beaten Sunderland with another late goal and were out of the bottom three after an unbeaten run of four games that had yielded an impressive 10 points from a possible 12. 

Although it was still tight, things looked optimistic for Brian McDermott and his crew. McDermott’s considerate, thoughtful and liberal view to management was having an effect after all in the top flight following their tree-uprooting run to the Championship title the season before. It was a struggle but then it was always going to be wasn’t it. Sadly we are now not going to see how he would have fared.

His dismissal on Monday following a run of four defeats in a row was inevitable. It is the norm these days. 

It is tempting to think that if they had beaten both Wigan and Aston Villa at home then he would still be in the job. If they had, Reading would be five points clear of trouble rather than four points from safety. Such are the margins. Such are the consequences.

From the moment Anton Zingarevich bought a controlling share in the club last summer, McDermott must have been on his toes. His margin for error got that little bit slimmer but with only fractions spent on new players McDermott, for all the room for manouvere at his disposal, must have felt he was managing from inside a phone box.

His sacking does beg the question why bother? At least why bother now? Reading’s fixture list reads like something out of Dante for hellishness: away trips to Manchester United and Arsenal followed by home games with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. There are opportunities against Southampton and Queens Park Rangers at the Madjeski Stadium but it may all be too late by then anyway. 

Former Royals player Aidy Williams said as much when telling the BBC: “He can hold his head up high. He won the Championship against all odds, but in all honesty he was fighting a losing battle with budgets."

Whoever the new man is their chances of keeping Reading up are almost negligible. So why not keep McDermott until the summer and then decide? Besides if Reading do find themselves in the Championship who would be better to get them back to the Premier League than the man who did it last time?

The club say they plan to make an appointment as soon as possible. A word of warning though: Wolverhampton Wanders were in the same situation this time last season. They binned Mick McCarthy, mucked up the next two appointments and look where they are now. McCarthy had run his course at Molineux but he was sacked too late. He should have stayed until the end of the season. 

Reading fans are hoping a different scenario unfolds.