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…..