The McDermott In/Out debate that's raged on over the last few months has split the fanbase. As it happens, for most of Brian's second spell as manager of Reading, I was thoroughly #McDermottIn. I thought that, like many other fans did, there's a broad range of reasons, both on the pitch and off it, for Reading's slump from near the top of the league to mid-table obscurity. On the balance of things, was McDermott to blame for that slump? Of course not, so that meant it wouldn't be fair to sack him.
But, as time moved on, my focus turned away from how fair sacking McDermott would be, and towards whether or not it was needed. Although it was harsh to sack McDermott, it was becoming increasingly hard to see Brian taking this club forward. Indeed, looking at the few months he had in charge after taking over from Steve Clarke, there was little to suggest otherwise.
Initially, there was no morale boost when he arrived (although you can look back at Steve Clarke's time to explain that). After that, crucial points like defensive organisation and work-rate - bar a few games like West Brom in the cup - did not improve. On the whole, results were pretty terrible.
LLLLWDWWLWDLLLLLLLWDDDLDDLLLDWLLWDLDLDDWWDLLDWWLLLLDLL— Matt (@RustyRoyal) May 7, 2016
His last 54 games in charge of #readingfc
Horrific stats no matter what.
Was Brian going to be able to restore us to promotion contention? Very unlikely, but there should have been some sign that progress was being made.
The wider effect on the club
Plenty are saying that the worrying thing about sacking McDermott is that it destabilises the club - that he wasn't given enough time to have a fair go at the job, and Reading could now hop from manager to manager. For me that's a reasonable worry to have. However, I don't think you can keep a manager in his position purely for the sake of stability, without looking at the progress being made. There's no shame in the ownership admitting that it got the last appointment wrong, and that things haven't worked out.
Brian's a great guy who, perhaps more than anyone, represents what it means to be a Reading Football Club man. But is that really what we need? Looking at fans' thoughts over the last few months, the supporters have been incredibly divided. Looking at the exact same events, people have - perfectly reasonably - come to completely different conclusions about what this club needs.
The fanbase was indeed so divided that it's hard to say that there was widespread enthusiasm for Brian being back at the club. I think I speak for a decent number of fans in saying that his first spell showed him to be a great man-manager, but one who was somewhat out of his depth in the Premier League. With that in mind, it was hard to be excited about the return of someone whose faults had already been seen first hand by the Mad Stad crowd.
To sum up...
So, where are we now? Having sacked McDermott, the club finds itself in a situation where it can have a fresh start by bringing in a manager that the team can get behind. Am I glad he's gone? No, not really. I feel terrible for the guy - you've got to feel for him, given how he's been treated by the ownership.
But football isn't about making the nice decisions, it's about making the harsh calls that can improve the club. In light of that, regretfully, I think the Thais made the correct choice.
Meanwhile, Marc has given his thoughts on why it was the wrong decision to say farewell to Brian. Who do you agree with? Let us know below.