Will/should Brian McDermott be the next Republic of Ireland manager?

by James Clancy

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Reading FC has taken the bizarre step of sacking their Anglo/Irish manager Brian McDermott.

Having garnered promotion for The Royals as winners of last season’s nPower Championship and with the club still having a decent chance of Premier League survival this season, it is a decision which is quite baffling from the club’s Russian owner Anton Zingarevich.

McDermott’s sacking comes just 32 days after he was named Premier League Manager of the Month!

Having attended Reading’s weekend defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa, former Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio is now odds on favourite to replace the 51 year-old at the Madejski Stadium and the Italian faces a baptism of fire with fixtures against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday followed by a visit to Arsenal immediately after the international break on 30th March.

This story is about Brian McDermott though and the bizarreness of the managerial merry-go-round that is top flight football these days.  Having won promotion with a very limited budget, with a home capacity of barely 24,000 – tiny by Premier League standards – and with the club still just four points from safety, to sack McDermott with just nine games of the season remaining is an astonishing decision.

In fairness to the board at Reading, they probably wanted to be seen to be making a move in what is becoming a very difficult situation for them.  The stakes are higher than ever for Premier League clubs this season, with even the bottom placed club next (2013-’14) season earning some £60million from television money.  It still comes across as an unorthodox decision though.

With McDermott having spent three-and-a-half seasons at the club, no manager who comes in to take the reins at the club will be able to become familiar with the club, its infrastructure and playing staff with barely eight weeks of the season still remaining.

While most observers will view Reading’s decision as bizarre, particularly at this stage of the season, being issued with his P45 could well be a blessing in disguise for the Slough born son of a Clare mother and a father hailing from Co. Galway.

McDermott has stated on numerous occasions in the past that he would like to manage his parent’s homeland.  The Republic of Ireland have pivotal World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria within the space of four days towards the end of this month.  If the team “managed” by Giovanni Trapattoni fail to pick up at least two points from those two games, then Irish chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup will be over.

If this does happen – as seems highly likely on the current form of the three nations involved – Trapattoni will surely be out of a job he does not deserve to be in based on his levels of application.  Brian McDermott would be a fantastic choice to replace him as manager of The Boys in Green.   He would start from a better place than Trapattoni given that he can speak the same language as the players!

McDermott is a man who does not engage in infantile public spats with players he manages, does not petty grudges against his players and his application to detail goes far beyond Trapattoni’s insistence on almost exclusively watching players/potential players on dvd.  McDermott’s pleasantness, diplomacy, application and attention to detail will also be a stark contrast to the incumbent manager’s attitude towards his job as Irish “manager.”  With no contract to pay out to a club/national team for a man who is out of a job, McDermott and his impressive track record would surely also appeal to the cash strapped Football Association of Ireland.

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