Anton Zingarevich claims sacking Brian McDermott was far from easy.
McDermott joined the Royals in 2000 as a scout/couch, and was named as caretaker manager in 2009 when Brendan Rodgers was sacked, before being given the job on a permanent basis. In his first season in charge the club missed out on promotion to the Premier League after losing the playoff final to Swansea City, but last term, a run of 15 wins from 19 matches was enough to secure the Championship title.
Following their rise to the top-flight the club were bought out by Zingarevich, and despite just two wins in the opening half of the campaign, the Russian tycoon kept faith with the manager. And this backing looked to have paid off in January with four successive wins, including two in the league, which earned McDermott the Manager of the Month.
However, recent defeats to Stoke City, Wigan Athletic and Everton saw Reading slip back down the table, and a 2-1 home reverse to fellow strugglers Aston Villa on Saturday was the final straw. After announcing on Monday that McDermott has been relieved of his duties, Zingarevich has now described it as the hardest decision of his life.
An official club statement was released on Wednesday, which read: “Anton told the players it was the hardest decision of his life, thanking all the staff for their contribution. He and Brian remain on good terms after meeting in person on Monday.”
Next up for the Madejski Stadium club is a daunting trip to Manchester United on Saturday, a match in which Academy boss Eamonn Dolan will be in charge for. The Reds are closing on league title number 20, and with nearest rivals City heading to Everton earlier in the day, this weekend could prove a pivotal one in the race for the Premier League crown.
As for the Royals, it appears, at least at the moment, that there was no plan to install an immediate replacement for McDermott. This is in contrast with fellow top-flight new-boys Southampton, who controversially sacked Nigel Adkins earlier this season and then appointed Argentine Mauricio Pochettino almost straight away.
The former Saints manager is a contender for the Reading job, but Paolo di Canio, who led Swindon Town to League Two glory last season but quit the club last month, has been installed as early favourite. Mark Hughes, sacked at Queens Park Rangers earlier this season, is also a contender, whilst Gus Poyet of Brighton & Hove Albion has also been mentioned.