Management Guru

Interesting watching the management manoeuvres at Reading FC since Brian became manager and Anton became owner, whilst Sir John and Nicky continue as chair and director. Definite signs of teamwork, compared to the usual knee-jerk headless-chickens at most clubs. Last mentioned here the equally encouraging signs of man-management, but many references to the “quality” of football decisions not to mention management gurus and motivation throughout this blog.

Sure enough, Times journalist Roger Alton, here writing in the Spectator, being impressed when meeting Brian. A cut above the rest.

Far more interesting [than talking with Steven Gerrard (*)] was the opportunity to chew the fat, or at least the sushi and avocado, with the admirable Brian McDermott, manager of beleaguered — or resurgent, depending where you’re standing — Reading FC. McDermott is a Heston Blumenthal lookalike with the easy manner of the bloke you like to meet down the pub. But what he’s achieved along the M4 is remarkable, and not just because he must have quadrupled his Russian owner’s £30-odd million investment. He is a real self-improver and a brilliant man manager. The books he reads are management books, not football ones, and that’s the ethos he’s brought into Reading.

That’s why he doesn’t seem intimidated by the challenge of surviving in the top flight even though the odds — and the wage bills, a fraction of most Premier League clubs’ — are so stacked against him. There is a culture there of hard work and improvement, so that he can be satisfied with his work even if it doesn’t keep his team up. When we spoke Reading had just beaten Newcastle away after being 1-0 down at half time. So no wonder when you ask, ‘How do you persuade players to come to Reading?’ McDermott says, ‘I don’t. They have to want to join and to learn.’ If there were more men like Brian McDermott in English football, then it might attract the Pep Guardiolas of this world.

‘There are really two different ways to look at the world,’ he says. ‘When you realise that success is in your own hands, rather than something that happens to you by way of talent, a light goes on in your mind. We never use words like “talent” here. We focus on hard work; how players and staff can grow over time. We may not become Premier League champions, but we will reach our potential.’ Well said, and come on you Royals.

Pep Guardiola and Brian McDermott in the same breath, notice. And of course Premier League manager of the month for January (and ALF Player of the month) !!!!

Excellent piece in GetReading too, of Jonny Fordham’s interview with Anton – management-wise, these guys know what they’re doing, blazing a distinctive trail in (football) management. Trust in people.

(Also interesting because Anton Zingarevic is much more like the Russians I’ve actually met and worked with, than the stereotypical villains typified by Roman Abramovic.)

(*) PS Love Stevie, but he’s never gonna set the world alight as a thinker and speaker.

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