In honesty I haven’t been impressed by Reading’s results and progress this season and most fans would probably agree. The logical and reasonable mind can look at the wider picture and find various reasons to justify our league position but as with any club there's an element of fans whose frustration, mixed with genuine passion, combines to create negative feeling. That’s what I feel is about to start happening with regards to our beloved Brian McDermott. Negative sentiment is creeping in.
In 20 years’ time when we visit the site of the Madejski Stadium, now called the Zingarevich Arena and 40,000 fans are in the Brian McDermott East Stand watching the Royals demolish Barcelona, hopefully we can look back and say "Do you remember the start of the 2013 season, Ha Ha?" This may be a little far-fetched but it’s not totally unreasonable, who would have predicted a similar story after Sir Alex’s 1st top flight year at Utd? Let’s remember Brian is in the early months of his first year in the big league. This is a factor worth considering before jumping on the "sack Brian McDermott" train
Brian’s approaching 13,000 hours as Reading manager with a 48% win rate. Not bad in my view for a guy doing his job for only 3 years. In any trade it takes a minimum 10,000 hours to become proficient so in career terms Brian’s just at the beginning.
In his short time he’s made some great decisions on the field and at the club, especially with the master stroke of bringing in Roberts last year. Who really expected Jason to be such a pivotal part of our success? Also, Alfie coming on as a sub against Southampton and scoring two crackers. These are just some of the points that spring to mind and there's plenty more.
If Brian was honest with himself he’s probably made some errors in team selection, tactics or man management that he would do better next time. That’s part of learning. The difference between now and then is any small error is going to be exposed much quicker in the Premier League.
A few years ago I had great success in my sales and management career working for a small company, punching above our weight in the marketplace, making money and enjoying success. I was new to the role, young, a bit maverick, I made good decisions I made terrible decisions too, but successes outweighed the failures and exposure to risk was buffered by a good financial climate.
Then the playing field changed. The World Financial Crises in 2008 stopped the supply of money, things become tougher, opportunities dried up and the market became much more competitive. We didn’t have the resources to compete with the Industry big-boys so survival came down to doing more with the same resources. Key to this was having a well-defined strategy and plan because there wasn’t room for errors, mistakes could quickly lead to failure.
In many ways I see similarities between that time and Reading’s situation now. Brians enjoyed early success in his managerial career, a win over Liverpool, Play-Off finals and of course the Championship Title. He’s made great decisions, he’s made mistakes too but they weren't exposed in the Championship. Now he’s operating in a much different climate.
In the Premier League our scoring opportunities are less, defenses are stronger and the competition is much tougher. Premiership strikers are by far a greater risk to our survival than players were in the Championship. The budget required to be successful in the world’s richest league is beyond our financial health limits, not unless we expose ourselves to a debt riddled future. We haven’t increased our Fan base and the Premier League TV revenues haven’t really kicked in yet, so were operating with virtually the same resources as last year but in a much tougher environment.
The average fan doesn’t get to see day-to-day workings of our Board or the Chairman but it’s clear we have some of the best financial smarts running the business. So as with any business I’m sure there's a solid plan in operation. McDermott, Hammond and Gibbs know football and although our play on the field seems a bit haphazard at the moment we trust there is a strategy and plan in action too.
Even with a good plan Reading FC has to be greater than the sum of its parts to survive and we fans are part of that, we are number 13 after all! So before the anti-Brian train starts its engines let’s remember were just a small town near Swindon punching above our weight on the world’s biggest stage. Brian is doing well given the climate. Yes there will be mistakes but I have faith he’ll make more good decisions than bad. So let’s just keep positive and back the manager, team and club.
From the Boards strategy to Gibbo’s defensive policy, Brian is the focal point and carry’s the burden. I just hope the fans continue to acknowledge the reality of the situation before jumping on the anti-Brian train. Let’s rejoice in the good period our club is experiencing and show some gratitude and loyalty before condemning the future Sir Brian. In the same way my boss had faith in me in tough times I hope Zingarevich allows Brian to do his job and lead the club on to survival and many greater things.
To the future Sir Brian, you have my support!
Aidy Smith - Singapore