It was Leeds or nowhere for McDermott
Former Reading boss does not know what money is available after taking Elland Road job on ‘goodwill’
New Leeds United manager Brian McDermott. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
“Goodwill” has persuaded Brian McDermott to return to management after just a month out, he said at his unveiling as Leeds' new boss on Friday.
The 52-year-old left Reading on March 11th, with the Royals' hierarchy worried about relegation from the Barclays Premier League, but was not out of the game for long, signing a three-year deal at Elland Road on Friday.
He replaces Neil Warnock at the npower Championship club, with the veteran boss having fallen on his sword last week after failing to deliver promotion.
McDermott, who won the division with Reading last year, was approached immediately by Leeds' owners with the intention of taking over in the summer but, with United not safe from relegation, the former Arsenal midfielder has been brought in now.
Having just been sacked by Reading, taking over a club whose off-the-field situation is not entirely clear - owners GFH are the subject of a takeover bid - would seem a gamble, but McDermott says he has put his faith in those who have employed him.
"I was approached about 10 days ago and the conversation was about coming in the summer," he said this afternoon. "But things have escalated, I spoke to Shaun Harvey (chief executive) who wanted to put a manager in place now and that was something I had to think long and hard about for a couple of days, and it feels right. The whole place feels right.
"I wouldn't have taken a job at this stage of the season anywhere else. It's a massive club and I don't need to be told about the history."
Leeds have acquired a reputation for selling their best players over recent years and the futures of some of their leading names - such as Sam Byram and Tom Lees - are expected to be in McDermott's in tray.
The club have also been accused by some of their fans of not investing in the playing staff and, with McDermott yet to discuss budgets, he admits to having taken a leap of faith.
"The question about money available will be answered, I don't know the answer and have come here on a lot of goodwill," he said. "I want to take this club forward, but no one person can do that on his own. Everyone has to be going in the same direction. But I live in the real world. At Reading I lost Gylfi Sigurdsson, a player who scored 20 goals for me and I lost Shane Long. When he left I thought there was no way we could win the league, but we did. And that showed me you can never rely on one player.
"But I don't want to lose anyone. The best place for the young players is here, playing in front of these fans."
McDermott will get his first taste of the Elland Road supporters tomorrow. He said he will be "right in amongst it" against Sheffield Wednesday in a game Leeds know they need to win if relegation fears are to be allayed.
"The first thing we have to do is look at the game tomorrow and get a result," he added. "I have managed 200 games and have never had an easy one. We have to play with no fear and have an atmosphere. I have been here with Reading and thought to myself 'we'll do well to get a result here'."
Harvey, the man who made the move to recruit McDermott, admitted that his club's perilous position - five points above the drop zone and without a win in seven - meant he could not afford to wait until the summer to get his man.
"We have to make sure we don't get relegated. We don't want to take that gamble," he said. "People may think this is knee-jerk but, we identified a number of targets and this is the only man we offered the job to. Brian has taken us on face value and has a positive attitude to take us forward."