It would be fair to say that there were a lot of surprised faces when Reading took the shock step of sacking manager Brian McDermott on Monday evening. While the club were scrapping in the bottom three, the fact that McDermott had at least made them competitive in the division on one of the lowest budgets made many think that his job was secure.
Unfortunately for him, the curse of the foreign owner has struck again and he is now looking for a new post.
As you would expect, the bookmakers have already been sending the rumour mill into overdrive with a host of names supposedly in the frame to take over at the Madejski Stadium. Paulo Di Canio currently appears to be the favourite, although there are a couple of others who are also in the hat as we take a look at the contenders.
Paulo Di Canio
With most bookies ranking Di Canio at 4/5, he is the favourite for the job by quite some margin. Recent events have suggested that if the Royals do decide they want the Italian, he is almost certain to make the switch after revealing to the press that he “is ready to manager in the Premier League”. Furthermore, having attended Reading’s last game, one has to assume that he has been in the frame for some time.
Looking at Di Canio’s credentials, the appointment would still seem a risky one. The highest level he has managed is League One, although he did mastermind a promotion for Swindon to that tier. As well as that promotion, he has also established the Wiltshire outfit in League One and left them in superb shape when he departed earlier this year.
While he has performed fantastically well in the lower leagues, Reading fans will still be posing the question on whether or not he has the correct temperament for their club. Under McDermott, the Royals were respected, with his quietly spoken manner going down very well with opposing teams. In Di Canio they would be getting a contrasting figure, with the Italian no stranger to controversy from both his playing and managerial career. At Swindon, he was very often critical of his own players and even his own board of directors. Considering the fact that the Reading owners appear to be deadly serious about their aims, it would remain to be seen how he would get on with his employers if he was offered the position.
Roberto Di Matteo
The fact that a former Champions League winning manager is in the frame for the post just highlights how far Reading have come in recent years. Admittedly, Di Matteo’s stock isn’t as high as it perhaps could be, with the Italian yet to attend an interview since his harsh dismissal from Chelsea in November.
There’s no doubt that in comparison to Di Canio, Di Matteo is a much quieter man and would probably go down a little better with other clubs in the division. Whether or not RDM is up to the task is another matter though, with many still debating his record as a top flight manager. His achievements in winning the Champions League will go down in history, but that wasn’t his squad and while his dismissal was harsh, some would argue that he should have performed much better with the Blues at the start of the season considering the backing he was provided. Furthermore, his spell in charge at West Brom wasn’t entirely successful and you just have to wonder if he would provide the Royals with the necessary improvement to beat the drop.
With Nigel Adkins ranked as 5/1 for the job, he is quite a big stretch away from the other two names in the hat. Adkins is another man who was almightily unlucky to lose his job this term, after dragging Southampton up from the depths of League One right the way to the top flight in a matter of two years.
Some people would argue that there is little difference between Adkins and McDermott, with both being likeable managers who achieved fantastic results with their respective clubs. Therefore, there is a debate as to if there would be any point in appointing a manager who appears to possess an almost identical style to McDermott.
Nevertheless, in my mind, Adkins is a very competent Premier League manager and will not find himself out of work for too long. Whether or not this is the post for him, I’m not too sure. However, I do think he is more suited to the position than Di Matteo - although Di Canio really does seem the stand out candidate and the man that could provide Reading with the best chance of survival.
About the author
Liam is a keen sports columnist who regularly pens his view on the Premier League situation. He also uses his knowledge of English football to boost his own website, which can be accessed at bonusbetting.org.uk.