Brian picking up the plaudits
It was one of Jose Mourinho’s more famous sound bites – after a particularly frustrating Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge the then Blues boss declared “they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal.”
In the words of the Daily Telegraph’s Football Correspondent Henry Winter, who was one of many to signal his admiration for the Royals display in West London on Wednesday evening – “Brian McDermott came here and ignored the handbrake, sending his players freewheeling into Chelsea’s defence.”
Reading’s positive style of football is already drawing plaudits – and ahead of a trip to Sunderland this weekend, McDermott was quizzed once more on whether he would ever consider adopting the policy of ‘playing for a draw’.
“What is settling for a draw? How does that work?” the Royals boss asked his pre-match press conference.
“Does that mean you get as many people behind the ball as you possibly can and try to settle for a draw? I don’t think that necessarily works. Sometimes to stick another striker on can get you a draw, by putting more pressure on the ball – that’s my philosophy. But generally if it’s 2-2 or 1-1, wherever we’re playing – we’re trying to win. There’s a big difference between three points and one point. I don’t know how to settle for a draw. Enlighten me and maybe I’ll do it!”
Although the squad could hold their heads up high when returning to Hogwood Park after their frantic bout of midweek football, they could have been forgiven for displaying a groggy sense of injustice – but anyone who knows the team’s ethos will be well aware that such thoughts were instantly set aside.
“Wednesday night is irrelevant for this game. We go to Sunderland looking for a performance, if we keep performing the way we know we can – I know what will follow.
“The players are resilient, you have to be resilient as football players. You get dips, you get highs and you get lows – and the thing that we have here, you don’t get too high and you don’t get too low. You carry on doing the right things.
“There’s no point me telling you how difficult the games are going to be because we know that anyway. We’ll prepare and we’ll do the best that we can.”
Lastly, there was a word of praise for opposition manager Martin O’Neill – a figure clearly respected at Madejski Stadium.
“I’ve known Martin a long time, since he was manager of Wycombe in the Conference. He’s had a fantastic career and his teams are always well organised, he did a great job last season at Sunderland – they went to Arsenal last week and got a great result.”