Stick or Twist ? 

Brian McDermott’s return last December received one of the most mixed receptions I’ve seen for a ‘new’ Reading manager. Many, quite rightly, remembered his successes. There was much talk of the famous post Christmas runs of his previous Reading teams. They were convinced he was the right man, and swept away any concerns with references to great cup runs and the 2011/12 Title winning team.

 Others weren’t so sure, they focused on the disasterous Premier league season, public displays of friction within the squad, stubbornness with selections and formations which were failing. Whilst most people liked Brian as a person, they found it hard to forget his last game. Villa at home in the Premier League, when the atmosphere was toxic towards him and the team. 

 When Brian took over we were 13th and 7 points off the play off places. We were also in a terrible run of form, we had won 1 game from the last 10 league games. Then being forced to sell your top scorer wouldn’t help most managers. 
What concerns me is he’s making some of the same mistakes he made in his previous spell. His stubbornness with the diamond formation is baffling. We look totally open in midfield and it’s not improved us, it’s made us worse. I think even the most ardent BM fans must be struggling to understand why he’s persisted with this formation.

 Then we move to his selections. The most confusing one is playing Gunter at left back and McCleary at right back. I’m still trying to work out why you would do that when we had a left back on the bench waiting to play. Yes, I know he won’t be here next season, but to completely unbalance the team was a very brave move. With this selection we had 4 losses in 5 games. Coincidence ? Well I doubt it helped. 

 I’ve seen the opinion expressed that a good reason to keep Brian is that he knows this club inside out, but does he really? It’s such a different club to when he left I’m not sure that’s true. We’ve got 3 owners and numerous advisors helping them. That’s a huge change, even from when AZ was at the club. At least SJM and Hammond were still involved then. Now he’s got Howe, and the new appointment Brian Treverden, to deal with on a daily basis. The latter is an interesting appointment with his previous history of working with young players at Ajax. So I’m not convinced McDermott really knows the club like he used to. 

Is Brian the right manager to bring through the youngsters we look set to play next season? I think he could be a good choice for this role. Gylfi, Long & Pearce all improved under BM. Pearce even got player of the season when we got promoted !  

The argument I find the most compelling for keeping Brian is stability for the club. This is something we desperately need after the last few years of constant changes. 3 different owners in 4 years has unsettled the club and we are still struggling to find our feet. I do feel though that almost any manager would struggle under our current owners. But that’s another story.  

On the other hand it’s hard to back a manager who only got 9 points from the last 13 games, and as already mentioned, made poor selections and was stubborn with formations. I know plenty of you will say ‘Look at his past record,’ but we aren’t in 2012. Time moves on and you get judged on your most recent record. 
So reluctantly I don’t think Brian is the correct man to take us forward. But I won’t be too disappointed if he’s in charge next season as I know he’s got the club at heart. I will also be delighted if I’m proven to be totally wrong in my assessment. Good luck Brian

Paul Mann  
Let me know if you agree or disagree with me via @ElmParkRoyals All feedback appreciated. 

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4 thoughts on “Stick or Twist ? 

  1. Great article bear in mind points gained included lucky results against Bristol city and Bolton . A key question is if we had got warnnock in with same group of players would we have ended up 17th I very much doubt

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    1. Thanks Arthur. You can’t argue with Warnock’s results at Rotherham. Not sure I want him at Reading, but he’s kept a team up who seemed certain to get relegated.

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  2. Yes, really good article, demonstrating that people unconvinced by BM aren’t necessarily knee-jerk haters. Like you, I have a lot of time for the guy as a person and as a coach but am not sure the team will improve under him.as a manager.
    Sad to say, I think he hit on a winning formula with the group of players we had to gain promotion but was unable to turn things around when they started to go wrong and was too inflexible. Getting players in to suit his system may pay off in the short term but if there is no plan b, we will struggle again over time.
    Warnock certainly seems effective at getting teams out of the Championship but I have such contempt for the man I couldn’t bear him as manager.

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    1. Thanks Simon. I think he had the unique position of knowing most of the players inside out in his last spell. This gave him a huge advantage, especially with Shane Long. But he still had to get the results, can’t knock his achievements before the Premier League. I definitely think he’s very stubborn, like all managers are really. But he’s doing it at his own cost in my opinion. I also can’t stand Warnock. Wally Downes did what we all wanted to do !

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