Brian McDermottSpeculation surrounding the next Leeds United manager seems to be focused on Gus Poyet and Brian McDermott. Since we already know plenty about Poyet, The Scratching Shed asked Dan Wimbush from Reading FC blog The Tilehurst End to give us a rundown on Brian McDermott.

The case for Brian McDermott

When the eds asked me to write a piece for Brian McDermott getting the Leeds job, I have to say I felt torn. It’s a bit like asking someone to write a piece about why their ex-girlfriend should get with that bloke from the pub that you don’t really have a lot of time for because he tried to lump you one night after an argument…. Truth be told, while I’ve always respected Leeds, the game at the Madejski last April left a bitter taste in the mouth so hands on heart it’s a little difficult trying to make a case for why a Reading hero should end up at Elland Road just a year later.

Anyway, now that that’s out on the table I’ll try and put across an honest viewpoint on Brian’s three-and-a-half years at Reading and why he’d be a great fit for Leeds United.


While the Premier League may have been too steep a learning curve at this stage in his career, there’s little doubt in Brian’s ability to get the most out of players. Jimmy Kebe, Mikele Leigertwood, Matt Mills, Shane Long, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Adam Le Fondre, all have enjoyed some of their best form while under McDermott’s management.

One thing that’s consistently come out of the dressing room is how good the spirit was at the club and while there were a couple of high profile fall-outs this season, 99% of the time he’s great at galvanising a squad and getting the very best out of them. Just look at the Reading team that won promotion last year ahead of far more fancied teams such as West Ham, Southampton, Leicester, Middlesbrough.


As chief scout Brian was influential in helping recruit Kevin Doyle and Shane Long for around £80k (a pair that were sold for a combined £13m). Since his time in the manager’s chair he’s helped turn cast-offs like Ian Harte and Mikele Leigertwood into Championship winners while taking Adam Le Fondre from League Two and seeing him become a Premier League player of the month just 18 months later.

He specialises in getting good value out of low cost signings but there are some question marks about his ability to get the most out of those £1m-£3m middle tier transfers. While he was a scout we signed duds like Greg Halford and Emerse Fae, while as manager he bought and then dumped the likes of Chris Gunter in quick time, as well as failing to get the best from high wage earners like Pavel Pogrebnyak, Nicky Shorey and Danny Guthrie.


McDermott’s first and favourite tactic is 4-4-2, something we saw in the vast majority of his games at Championship and even Premier League level.

He liked to play with a solid back four, two pacey wingers and two holding midfielders, one to break up the play such as Mikele Leigertwood and the other to run around and do the dog work like Jay Tabb or Jem Karacan. Up top it was your standard two, with a stronger player like Shane Long or Jason Roberts, partnered with a nippier player like Noel Hunt or Adam Le Fondre.

However he did dabble a bit in 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1, especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson was here, using Siggy as the free-roaming attacking midfielder behind a strong frontman such as Long. This season he again went back to 4-5-1 but didn’t have that key link player to really make it work.


It’s not pretty and don’t expect Barcelona style play from the former Arsenal winger. Reading haven’t exactly been able to buy technically gifted players and have instead relied on buying solid players who can get the ball quickly to quick wingers or strong frontmen. It’s not quite long-ball but it’s far from possession orientated football.

The Results

While Steve Coppell probably just shades the vote for our most successful manager, Brian McDermott will come a pretty close second. His first season saw a run to the FA Cup Quarter-finals and taking us from 21st to 9th in the Championship. Then despite losing Gylfi Sigurdsson, we still managed a run to the play-off final, as well as a second successive FA Cup quarter-final, only losing 1-0 at Man City. Then in just his second full season he helped us win the Championship despite losing skipper Matt Mills and 20-goal striker Shane Long. This season may have gone wrong for a good number of reasons but there’s no disputing his pedigree at Championship level.

Overall I think he’d be a great fit for Leeds. He’s had nothing but success in his two and a half years at Championship level and while the step up the Premier League was a bit too much, he’ll certainly be wiser if he gets another crack at it. Having played and managed at the top level he won’t be afraid of the job and his down to Earth simple approach with players and the media should help level a ship that from the outside has looked far from steady recently.

I think Leeds would be lucky to have him and part of me is scared that he’ll end up coming back to haunt us next season…..


45 Responses

  1. bd

    Why not try B. McDermott i think O’Neil is not as good as he used to be he spent 30 million at Sunderland and their terrible. Poyet wont be available if he gets Brighton up and is a while wait. Best if new manager comes in now so he sees who is the dead wood for himself.

  2. Pete Sasqwax

    OK, this may sound stupid at this stage considering where we are (i.e. closer to League 1 than the Premier League), but I think the reasons why I’d rather we didn’t go for McDermott are spelled out pretty clearly in the article. There are many reasons for his appointment and I don’t dispute that, should he be given the post, he’d do a sterling job. I would rather he wasn’t given the job, though, because I feel that it would smack of the same short-termism that has seen us appoint Neil “One Last Challenge” Warnock. I don’t want to hear “no disputing his pedigree at championship level” – much as we would, in so many ways, be lucky to have him as a result of that (and many other qualities) because I believe – and have been proven correct – that it IS possible to have solid success AND play good football. The two things are not mutually exclusive, we’ve just been led to believe that is the case as a result of week-after-week, month-after-month of experiencing neither.

    The criteria for our next manager should, I believe, centre upon these three factors:
    1. A modern approach to the game (which could mean, but isn’t necessarily limited to, a young manager);
    2. Positive, attractive football;
    3. A respectable stature in the game (an ex-international player would be favourite, but, again, I wouldn’t want to exclude notable exceptions to the rule).

    I don’t expect the club to focus on those things – with Shaun “Hat-trick of Admins” Harvey in the hot-seat, I don’t expect anything positive at all, if I’m honest – but those are the 3 qualities I would personally look for in any prospective incoming manager

    • Irving08

      Me too – I did my bit before reading yours, but we are happily of the same mind.

  3. markj222

    football is rapidly moving on from this style of football. Need to be able to keep posession, I fear Mcdermott will just be another Warnock. Why not try someone like Paul Tisdale, he has worked wonders at Exceter with a tiny budget and they play posession, from the back

  4. markj222

    Not a fan of Mcdermott to be honest, although he would be a better option than O’Neill or Highes. But would prefer someone like Poyet

  5. mylifeinleeds

    The Reading fans obviously love Brian McDermott.

    He wouldn’t be my first choice though. Personally, I would love to see Di Matteo or Poyet. Both of these would excite me and inspire me to buy a season ticket. Like many have said, O’Neill reminds me a lot of Warnock.

    What about David Moyes? There’s less chance of us getting him than Di Matteo or Poyet put together but I think he has done a fantastic job at Everton and is out of contact at the end of the season. Wouldn’t this appointment make a huge statement for GFH?

    Back to reality, I suspect it’ll be O’Neill or McDermott.

    • TSS

      I’d be surprised if it was O’Neill, it’s an appointment they could make immediately so doesn’t make sense for them to wait.

      I think it’s between Poyet and McDermott because it explains Shaun Harvey’s comments that it could be the end of the season before they appoint someone. Poyet won’t leave Brighton if they get promoted (not for a Championship club anyway), so it’s possible Leeds are waiting to see what happens there before making a decision.

      Basically, Poyet is their first choice making McDermott the back-up plan. Only a theory, but they’re the two managers who best fit Salem’s description of what Leeds are looking for and it makes sense of Harvey’s comments.

      Of course, even if this is the current situation, Leeds United are now managerless so other names will be applying for the position. Plenty of wildcards we haven’t even considered can spring up at this stage, Sven Goren Eriksson declared his interest last time for example.

      Interesting few weeks ahead, but with no realistic danger of relegation (every team below us isn’t going to outscore us by 6 points with only 6-7 games remaining), I think it’s sensible the club are taking time to consider all the options.

      • Irving08

        I don’t think you can say that there are just two choices and that the named persons exhaust the feasible field.
        Lambert, who might be available if Villa come down, would be a very strong candiate; likewise Martinez, in similar circumstances.
        I am surprised McDermott is even considered a serious candidate. Poyet’s credentials by contrast are unquestionably also very strong.
        In the end, it will turn on what we are offering any propsective Manager.
        And it is not clear what that is.

  6. Ludlow Leeds

    The more I think about it the more I believe we need a manager who can handle the extreme pressure that comes with Leeds. As good a pedigree as McDermott has, I’m not convinced he has it. And I’m not sure Poyet has either.

    It needs a special calibre of manager. Warnock couldn’t; Grayson got found out; McAllister folded. We need to pay a proven top-drawer manager enough to tempt them down into the Championship to take a sleeping giant up. And no, not O’Neill or Hughes.

    • mrbigwheels

      Totally agree with you. The TSS poll presented O’Neill and McDermott as the fans choice. Perhaps non of us are that good at coming up with an answer.. even Moyes would have his work cut out with the fans.

      On the basis of GHFC being ‘well meaning but not football people” and include the uncertainty of their intended ownership ratio we surely come back to appointing an interim manager and let the new Chairman choose. O’leary for interim for me, he’s got the qualifications and he’d get on with it.

      We need some strong leadership and now.

      • Irving08

        Provided you will shut him up… perhaps, MBW.

      • mrbigwheels

        My last line keeps ringing with me Irving. The short term is six matches to play. Heavens… we’ve only taken three points in the last six played!. You never know what Redfern and Naylor will do but the overall attitude of the squad is so varied in my perception. I’ll call it the Warnock factor.

        The long term demands that strong leadership. Warnock may well be right in his proclamation a Director of Football is an essential requirement to link together the Team and the Board, the… ”well meaning but not football people”. Hence my O’leary interim suggestion to join the elements of progress on the pitch and timing of the Boards intentions together.

      • Irving08

        How interim do you have in mind ?

        The rest I take on board.

    • Tyler75

      Solsjkaer has played at the highest level, won and managed in the Champions League – he wouldn’t be phased about managing LUFC. With Naylor in support, why not give him a go ?

      • spellz

        Maybe he will leave our best players on the bench in hope they can re-enact his career.

  7. sniffermot

    Thanks for your analysis of McDermott I found it very interesting. Do you think being at Leeds will raise his game to a level he couldn’t Have done at Reading! I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, I mean in terms of being able to attract top players. I was wondering if you would agree if McDermott was in the Premiership with Leeds that his experience with Reading would keep Leeds up. My reason for the question is that I am admirer of McDermott and thought he had learned a lot this season and that experience will stand him in good stead for his next job.

  8. Exiled in Aberdeen

    It’s not pretty It’s not quite long-ball but it’s far from possession orientated football.

    So basically more of the same sort of tripe we have played under Warnock

    Poyet has to be the man, pay him whatever it takes, and compo to
    Brighton, that will be the best signing GFH could make for Leeds

  9. Matthew

    In reality it doesn’t matter who we get, as they will be in the same position next season as Warnock was this season.

    Without investment we’l never see success, we could have Jose Mourinho in charge and still finish midtable with this squad.

  10. RoystonLufc

    Dan Wimbush, thanks for the article, very well written and informative. And it raises a key problem:
    “He specialises in getting good value out of low cost signings but there
    are some question marks about his ability to get the most out of those
    £1m-£3m middle tier transfers.”

    So if we are going to stick with low-cost signings, he’s our man. But do we really want that? I certainly don’t want another Ridsdale-style money fest – that’s why we’ve ended up where we are – but I don’t think the current policy of scraping the dregs for pensioners (or “experienced players”, to use the official terminology) is much good either. I would prefer a Wilkinson-type approach with exactly those middle-tier transfers of which Dan speaks. A manager who can get the most out of that level of player would get us promoted in one season.
    I prefer to be positive about comments but I honestly can’t think who I would want at this moment. But Dan’s article – glowing or not – suggests that McDermott might not be the man for Leeds.

  11. JONTY 64

    Hello tennis fans – it’s JONTY 64 time again !!!

    Please not Brian McDermott – whilst aim sure he’s a lovely man we don’t want an Uncle Fester lookalike because it wouldn’t be good for the club’s image plus he would scare the kids. Hair is important because it breeds confidence – I wear mine behind a LUFC headband with JONTY 64 written on it in glow in the dark colouring !

    Any of my fellow LUFC fans who regularly follow me on JA606 will know that I would like to form a managerial dream team with Andy Murray, Jeremy Bates & Andy Castle(now he has got great hair & a lovely big smile as well) to take our beloved LEEDSback to the PL & CL within 2 seasons.

    I am the man and can do this if given the opportunity so please back me when the club canvasses the views of ST holders upon my imminent appointment.

    Having dinner here in London tonight with Lemmy from Motörhead & Nigel Kennedy and we will be talking all things football and LEEDS. I have also invited Nick Clegg but he can’t make his mind up although, I withdrew my invite to Boris Johnson because I’m just not sure we can cater for that much food? Still, Bryan Robson & Big Ron have accepted invites which is most exciting because they are two of my heroes.

    First serve, foot fault, overhead smash and JONTY 64 wins yet again !! Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    They think it’s all over but NO, JONTY time is never over because he’s here there he’s every fecking where !!!

    Stay with me people JONTY 64 will be back.


  12. saltburnwhite

    As stated above i think we need a high profile manager who can handle the pressure and who has the confidence within them to know that they are capable of waking this sleeping giant , i have compiled a list of available managers who i am sure would be able to achieve promotion just through sheer ability ….spend money on hiring an exeptional manager , the stand out ones for me are listed below in preferred order .

    All are realistic and would come if offered the right money ..barring maybe wilkinson who may not even want the pressure of managing anymore

    Ray Wilkins

    David O’leary

    Di matteo

    alan curbishly

    howard wilkinson

    ruud gullit

    glenn hoddle

    gianluca vialli

    Brian Mcdermott

    • Morcar's Hill

      Wilkinson would make a terrific director of football overseeing and linking the novices in charge with the new manager.

      • IrishYeboah

        I agree, and maybe he could encourage whoever the manager is, to use some of the fruits of the youth academy that Wilkinson helped to create.

  13. Irving08

    Gosh, was that a recommendation ?! Honestly the Reading man makes Brian M. sound like a younger, if more circumspect, footballing version of Warnock. 4-4-2 with one jogging- around midfielder, the other a destroyer…we’ve had that all season ! (Chris Dawson, for one, will exit sharp.) Moreover Brian looks and sounds like a sensitive man: it seems like a poor fit both for the place (Leeds) Leeds and its football fans. No, Brian is not the man for LUFC, or us for him. Which is pity; I like him.

  14. Morcar's Hill

    Interesting fans overview.
    Thanks for that honest opinion.
    Style wise there are worries there especially following the utter dross we’ve being enduring but there is something in the comments about formation changes that hint at Mcdermott developing. If he just lacked a link man to pull it together in the Prem this season then he is obviously looking to grow out of a rigid 442 into more fluid alternatives.
    I saw his interview on the TV a few days ago and he came across as a trustworthy thinker. These are two important characteristics we should be looking for in the new man. Some one who can steadily build a dynasty like the Don and not be looking for a short glory ride before jumping ship after 18 months/2 years as i think Poyet would do. Mcdermott spent 13 years at Reading. That’s the kind of loyalty and commitment i want to see.
    Got a good feeling about BM. I think whoever his next club is are going to get a very astute planner who already has good experience and yet young enough to remain flexible if things are not working. Ally him with Naylor and use the up and coming crop of home grown talent with a sprinkling of quality imports and we may just find the perfect connection we have been searching for to take us out of the wilderness and back to where we all know we belong.

  15. Matthew

    Wonder how long it’l be till Warnock is appointed Director of Hoofball at Stoke?

      • Matthew

        Why would Bates buy Plymouth though? They have nothing of value, Bates likes his building projects and would have nothing to fund it with.

        Even so, they would be better off getting relegated to get away from Bates lol

  16. Craig Sweaton

    I just think the biggest question should be “who can we realistically attract?”
    After seeing the abuse Warnock got from the word go & the lack of financial input, coupled with the sale of another top player I can’t imagine anyone wanting to risk their reputation on us.
    Sad but true.

      • Irving08

        Absolutely right. His mates in the national press are making out that he was abused more or less from the off. He got off far too lightly, in my view. Some of us had his number soon into his spell here at Leeds, when he shamelessly disassociated himself from the team’s performances. Lo and behold he goes and does the same this season with the team he built. As well as being incompetent, the man lacks integrity.

      • Craig Sweaton

        I disagree. The amount of abuse I heard right from the start was unbelievable! All the idiots shouting about him being a blades fan before his arse was even in the chair made me sick.

      • Matthew

        Unfair to tar everyone with the same brush. There will always be a minority that abuse any manager we have.

      • Craig Sweaton

        I wasn’t tarring everyone Matthew but if you lokk at Tss’ reply he said he was “fully supported” for months & we all know that isn’t true.

      • TSS

        By Leeds United standards, Warnock WAS fully supported. There may have been a few people on Twitter and messageboards slagging him off from day one, but there always will be. Even Alex Ferguson gets that from Scum fans. At the games, where it matters, he was fully supported.

  17. stratford white

    The zenith and nadir of a leeds united fan…1970 my first memories, Bremner scores not enough as Celtic win 2-1 in front of 135,000 people at Hampden Park in the European Cup semi final. On to Old Trafford for the F A Cup Final replay as Hutchinson throws long to Webb (tormented by Eddie Gray at Wembley in the 2-2 draw) scores the winner.1971 , we win the fairs cup against Juventus on away goals despite the Colchester debacle 2-3. As a fan in a Manchester school… tough to take. On to 1972 , first three home games on neutral grounds due to crowd trouble the season before, “Jones,Clarke 1-0, the old Leeds 1,2″ David Coleman FA Cup final v Arsenal. Off to Molyneux for the double on the Monday night, lost1-2 v Wolves. I was now starting to get the pain to follow. 1973 revenge over Wolves in the FA Cup semi final only to lose to Sunderland, and worse a dodgy greek referee making sure AC Milan won the cup winners cup 0-1. 16 and im weeping in the garden! . 1974 Revie “I want you to go unbeaten through the season” Bremner “youre not serious Boss” He was. 29 games unbeaten. I was in the bath when Arsenal beat Liverpool at Anfield so we won the title. By the way oops forgot to mention I lived in Manchester and all my family supported the reds…oh dear they went down. Then Clough enough said and Armfield, a European Cup final against Bayern Munich, Coleman again “Lorimer 1-0″ ,however not to be 0-2.

    And now… the wilderness years, Currie, Hankin, Flynn et all a1-2 Hillsbough reverse to Man U in the FA Cup semi final , 2-0 up to Southampton in the League Cup semi final ,onlt to lose 2-3. Eventually relegation. The first fixture Grimsby Town(a.) Years of dross eg losing away to Shrewbury 1-5 and Mr Bremner arrives. FA Cup semi final loss to Coventry 2-3 (more weeping} and a play off defeat to Charlton 1-2, 8 minutes away from the tp division until shirtcliff scres twice. Sgt Wilko arrives promotion follows and we win the1st division as everybody scores for each other at Sheff Utd (younger readers watch it on you tube… its bizarre}. lots more dross ,George Graham comes and we held the record for the least goals scored n the top flight at the time (28), broght my 5 yr old at the time, he needed the loo and the steward said is it because of the high scoring game (!-1) at the time. Fast forward the O Leary years we all know about them , the tension v Bristol Rovers promotion from League 1, and now hear we are, our grate, fabulous, magnificent club… that has wittered about the play offs all season actually tipping on the precipce of relegation. And do you know what? There are millions of Leeds United fans worldwide and if GFH and IIB and any other potential investors do not want to do the right thing we can all come forward with our hard earned cash and be Leeds United F C

  18. stratford white

    what it is to be a fan of LUFC …The drama being -15 points in League 1 and being top on boxing day, the agony, Colchester, Histon and Chester and the ecstasy 1969, 1974 1992 and Becford 1-0 at OT why would you want to support anyone else…

  19. spellz

    There is something I like about him and I remember when he was caretaker manager at Reading and thinking he could probably do Coppels job and then he done it and more.

    I just do not know at this point if he is capable of the enormous scrutiny and pressure he will come under if we don’t start preforming early next season.

    I mean lets face it the shenanigans at ER in the past decade has left us fans a pack of blood thirsty wolves ready to savage the first person through the door, whoever comes in will have to be resilient strong minded and lets not forget a tactician but saying that as I don’t believe our football could ever replicate the absymal standard we set this season we could hire a Garden Gnome and get a few more games where we were actually more creative with the ball.

  20. Darran P

    O’Neill would not come unless he saw some hard cash on the table and he is the only one who can say who leaves and stays at the club. Frankly that would not happen. So whichever manager comes to Leeds, he will not be the “real” manager, Bates and GHFC will be! Simples.

  21. kelv worcester white

    Why hasn’t guardiola been mentioned ? His cv looks ok !!!!


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