In what has become a near-annual event Leeds United will have a new manager in the dug-out on Saturday, Brian McDermott, who will take charge of the Championship match against Sheffield Wednesday.
McDermott, who was only fired by Reading a month ago, today agreed a three-year deal to replace Neil Warnock, who was relieved of his command after 14 months at Elland Road on Easter Monday. The 52-year-old will be expected to achieve with Leeds the promotion success he had in Berkshire last May. His first task, however, will be to banish any lingering prospect of relegation after a recent slump in results.
Announcing the news on Leeds' official website, the club said: "GFH Capital, owners of Leeds United, are delighted to confirm the appointment of Brian McDermott as the club's new manager with immediate effect."
McDermott is known to have been keen to get back into work at the earliest opportunity and became the preferred candidate of new Leeds owners GFH Capital after, ironically, Nigel Adkins was snapped up by Reading to replace him, and Brighton put a £2.5m compensation price on Gus Poyet.
He will be joined by Nigel Gibbs, who he worked with at Reading, as his assistant.
David Haigh, deputy chief executive of GFH Capital, said: "We are delighted to have appointed Brian as our manager. He is a man with a proven track record of success and shares our vision of the best way to return long terms and sustainable success to this great football club.
"Obviously the immediate aim is a return as soon as possible to the Premiership. Brian's success in taking Reading to the Premiership last year was a key factor in our decision to hire him."
The contract will see McDermott tied to the club until the end of the 2015/16 season.
A player with Arsenal, Oxford, Cardiff and Exeter McDermott managed non-League clubs Slough and Woking before joining Reading’s scouting staff. He moved into coaching, working his way up until being asked to take over from Brendan Rodgers in December 2009, initially as a caretaker. Rodgers had tried to transform the direct style which brought Reading success under Steve Coppell into a possession-based passing game with traumatic results. McDermott reverted, to an extent, to the tried and tested and oversaw a brace of FA Cup runs before leading the Royals to promotion.
Reading were by then owned by wealthy Russian Anton Zingarevich but, either through choice or circumstance, McDermott did not invest heavily in the summer transfer market and the team struggled. He also maintained the club’s attacking style in the belief supporters were as interested in entertainment as results. That proved not to be the case and McDermott sought to tighten the team up but, after an impressive January, which earned him the manager of the month award, results dipped again.
It was nevertheless a surprise when Zingarevich fired his manager. The owner then hinted that Reading’s lack of spending in January was despite his encouragement. If true that may have met with favour from GFHC who since buying Leeds from Ken Bates in December have been reluctant to spend on players, concentrating instead in bringing in other investors.
McDermott was at Reading from 2000-2013. In that time Leeds had nine managers. The club’s fans will hope he brings stability as well as success, but with the relegated clubs being bolstered by huge parachute payments that is likely to depend on how much GFHC are prepared to back their man.