By Josh Grainger
It has been confirmed by Leeds United Football Club in the last few hours, that former Reading manager, Brian McDermott has signed a 3 year deal to become manager of the Yorkshire side. Almost immediately after McDermott was sacked by Reading on the 11th March, he emerged as one of the favourite's to takeover from Neil Warnock as Leeds United manager. Rumours gained strong momentum in the past few days that McDermott was set to join up with the struggling Championship side, however the news was only confirmed at roughly 3pm today.
McDermott, 52, has arguably only had one 'big' job in professional management, that being his latest role as manager of Reading. McDermott had a sixteen year career as a player, the most notable of his clubs include Arsenal and Cardiff City. McDermott finished his playing career at his home town, Slough, and this was to be the club that went on to give him his first job as a professional manager. He was appointed Slough manager in 1996 and remained with the club for two years, before moving on to manage Woking for the same spell of time. In 2000, McDermott was appointed Chief Scout of Reading. The former Gunner worked as one of the Reading backroom staff up and until 2009, when he was given the opportunity to become temporary manager of the, at the time, Championship side.
McDermott took Reading to the FA Cup quarter finals in his first half season with the club, beating Liverpool on the way. In his first full season as Reading manager, McDermott exceeded expectations by guiding Reading to the Championship play-off final, however his side were beaten by Swansea City. Despite the Wembley heartbreak, McDermott's first full season in charge was deemed as a success. The following season it seemed as if McDermott's Reading were going to finish mid-table in the Championship, however a stunning second half of the season that saw Reading win 15 of their last 17 games, meant that Reading not only won promotion to the Premier league, however were also crowned Championship winners. Reading were one of the bookie's faviroute's to get relegated from the premier league, before the division even began. Despite McDermott's best efforts, which saw him win Premier league manager of the month for February, he was sacked as Reading manager on March 11th, 2013, leaving Reading in 19th place, still with a fair chance of survival.
Roughly a month on, in the last hour McDermott was sat alongside Leeds United Director and GFH Capital Deputy Chief Executive, David Haigh as well as Leeds United Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey. He faced numerous questions from the interested press. One of the first questions the new Leeds boss was asked, was "What were the reasons why he took the job?", McDermott was honest in his answer, he responded by saying "I probably wouldn't have taken any other job at this time of the season, but Leeds was an exception, it was simply too big an opportunity to turn down." McDermott was then asked when he was aware of interest from Leeds, to which he told the press "Roughly 10 days ago I was officially approached, at first the plan was to bring me in at the end of the season, however after the Charlton game, the owners and directors felt it would be best if I came in as soon as possible."
One mysterious cloud that hangs over LS11 is regarding the ownership of the club, and whether new owners GFH Capital are in it for the long-term and whether
they can provide the club with the money to get them back to the promised land. McDermott was asked whether he had discussed the budget's that would be available to him next season, he honestly answered, "I'm not aware of the budgets for next season, no. However I have had a lot of assurances from the board regarding the ambition and plans for the future." It was under question whether McDermott would be in charge for this weekend's Yorkshire derby against
Sheffield Wednesday, having only been officially in charge of Leeds for a matter of hours, many questioned whether he would have suitable knowledge of the club and the current crop of players in order to take control, however he has said that he will be 'right amongst things tomorrow' and that he will be very much in charge and in the dugout, as well as his assistant manager, Nigel Gibbs and Neil Redfearn. McDermott told the press that he had spoken to Redfearn in the last few days about the current side and that he has taken his advice on board and has already selected the side that will play tomorrow, he also impressed many when he admitted that he had also prepared for the match by studying Sheffield Wednesday and is fully prepared for the game. Numerous people were tipped for the job at different times, such as Nigel Adkins, Gus Poyet and most recently Roberto Di Matteo, however Shaun Harvey and David Haigh confirmed that McDermott was always the number one target and that they were delighted to be able to get their man.
Tomorrow's clash with Sheffield Wednesday was already promising to be a keenly anticipated match, partially due to unsavoury events that marred the clash between the two sides earlier in the season at Hillsborough, which saw Wednesday goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland pushed in the face by a supporter. After that match Wednesday manager, Dave Jones labelled all Leeds fans "Vile Animals" after he was targeted by some fans with chants surrounding his past, the main attention was expected to be on Jones' reception from the Elland Road crowd, however McDermott's appointment will be sure to divert such focus. Steve Morison, Lee Peltier, David Norris and Tom Lees are all expected to be missing tomorrow due to injuries and suspensions, so it will be interesting come 11:30am tomorrow morning when the teamsheet's are published.