McDermott must stoke Reading’s home fires

Talking point
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The Independent Football

In the week of Reading's midweek victory at Anfield it was widely asserted that caretaker manager Brian McDermott should be given the job permanently. The reality is he deserves only an extended trial.

Since replacing Brendan Rodgers, McDermott has also overseen three draws, one at home to Liverpool, and a 4-1 thrashing by relegation rivals Plymouth. Managers should not be hired on such results.

It can be argued that as the best performances are the most recent, against Liverpool in the FA Cup, McDermott's methods are now taking effect. The counter is that, in twice outplaying Liverpool, Reading's players have shown they are hugely underperforming in the league. That is down to their managers.

They have played particularly poorly at home, winning one of 12 matches. Teams are always under more pressure at home, and Reading, having been in last season's play-offs, were also expected to be promotion contenders. That they were able to play fluid, enterprising football at Anfield suggests the problem has been one of failing to cope with these expectations. Against Liverpool, with nothing expected of them, they relaxed and played with freedom, benefiting from Liverpool being the team cramped by expectation.

What John Madejski, Reading's owner-chairman, must decide is whether McDermott is the man who can enable the players to cast off their inhibitions in the league.

The only way to find out is to wait another month. Today's match at Nottingham Forest is no guide, there is no expectation on Reading, nor in the Cup tie against Burnley and following league match at Bramall Lane. But in the fortnight from 30 January Reading play four clubs in the Championship's bottom 10 and will be expected to win. If they win most of them, McDermott should get the job.