For many newcomers Brian McDermott might be a fresh face in the football world, as he embarks on his first Premier League campaign under the watchful eye of the world’s media.
However Reading fans who have enjoyed consistent success over the past four seasons will know that the 51-year-old’s vast football knowledge extends beyond that gleaned during his time in Madejski Stadium’s hotseat.
Assembled journalists discovered as much when quizzing the former chief scout about his thoughts on Chelsea new boy Eden Hazard, ahead of the Royals trip to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.
“He was excellent against Wigan, but it’s not just him, they’ve got a team full of world class players and we all know that,” said Brian.
“I remember watching him (Hazard) as a youngster at Lille and he was phenomenal, everyone knew when he was 16 what a talent he was going to be. He stood out like the proverbial sore thumb, it wasn’t rocket science. He was special but you can’t just go to a club like Lille and say we’ll take your best player, it doesn’t happen.”
Many watching the Belgian’s EPL debut against Wigan Athletic this past weekend were impressed with the way the playmaker stood up to the English game’s physical tests – though McDermott believes that the league does allow such players to thrive.
“He’s going to handle the physicality of the league no problem. When I played you could kick people out the league, that’s how it was in those days but thank god there’s not a place for that now. You make a tackle and you get booked, the flair players can thrive and that’s a good thing.”
Respecting the talents of the European Champions is a must, but Reading’s boss is clearly confident in his own side’s ability – and will go to West London with a game plan.
Jason Roberts is set to sit out his final match of a two game suspension, whilst winger Jimmy Kebe isn’t expected to return from a hamstring problem until after the international break – though Brian revealed that there are no further injury worries.
“We should go there with a full squad, other than those two. Every single team that I pick is difficult, you try and juggle it the best way you can. I don’t think you can say that certain guys have to start – that’s bordering on patronising. If you’ve got a bunch of 20 odd players, then everyone comes into the reckoning and you do the best you can to pick the best eleven for that particular occasion.
“We’ll have a way of playing – but you have to always respect the opposition. We are what we are – we have to do the best we can to establish ourselves in this division and compete. We did that against Stoke, we tick that one off – then we go to Chelsea and complete.
“That’s why we’ve been trying to get into this league for the last four years, to compete against the best – and that’s what we’ve got to do on Wednesday night.”