McDermott's teamwork secret to Reading's right royal ascent

Championship's form team meet Hammers tomorrow in bullish mood

Momentum: there is nothing more vital in a promotion race, and nothing more necessary. Its influence will be tested tomorrow at Upton Park as Reading, the form team of the Football League, play West Ham United, whom they have just overtaken to move into second place in the Championship.

If West Ham's season has been a gradual, disheartening dip, Reading have been on the ascent ever since a poor start after their play-off final defeat to Swansea last season. Although the two teams' paths have only just crossed, they have been travelling in opposite directions for months.

Reading's thoughtful manager Brian McDermott, who signed a new contract last month despite interest from Wolves, is popular with players and fans. He praised their form yesterday, not as a spurt but as a sustained run of excellence. "If you look at the last 33 games," he said, removing Reading's poor start to the season, "you'd see that we'd have 69 points. The next-best team, Southampton, would have 63, then West Ham with 59 and Birmingham with 53. Over 30-odd games we're top of the league, by a very long way. Apart from our start, our form has been top of the league form."

Patience, McDermott said, was how Reading gathered their impetus. "When we were 20-whatever in the league, I tried to catch 20-whatever-was in front of us," he said. "And when we were 19th I tried to catch 18th. And when we were fifth I tried to catch fourth. That's how we do things, really. I just wanted to catch whoever was in front of us."

Reading do have good players, with veteran striker Jason Roberts, goalkeeper Adam Federici and defender Kaspars Gorkss all performing well, but teamwork seems to be at the root of their recent run. "When I get on that coach going to West Ham I know that I've got a group of men who are ready to play," McDermott said. "This group of players know what's required, and Jobi McAnuff's been skipper and has done a fantastic job."

McAnuff, who had a brief spell at West Ham, understands the pressures of Upton Park. While the Reading fans sing for their manager, the West Ham fans sing for Paolo Di Canio, and McAnuff believes Reading can exploit that tomorrow. "If we can start well and get the frustration and nerves going a bit then hopefully we can use it to our advantage," he said.

West Ham have drawn their last five home league games, and it does not take much for the fans' support to sour. "Their home form is somewhere they have slipped up a bit," McAnuff said. "I know more than most how difficult it can be, there is a massive expectation from the fans. We have proved we can finish games very strongly. We have to use that to our advantage and ramp up the frustration a little bit."

Reading may have to do it without Roberts, their inspiration January signing, who is an injury doubt. "He's brought such a lot to the football club, as a person and as a player," McDermott said. "People gravitate towards him, he's such a good guy. He's everything that's good about football."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Sport
Jonatahn Sexton scores a penalty
rugby
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
weird news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?