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Eamonn in Depth

14 March 2013

Eamonn Dolan gave an in-depth interview to BBC Radio Berkshire at Hogwood Park on Thursday morning. Read it in full below

So Eamonn, what a week for you - tell us how it's unfolded from start to now.
I got a phonecall on Monday to go to the stadium, Nick said that the owner wanted to see me, and I was excited because I thought we were talking about the Academy - and taking it forward with EPPP. But he said 'I've sacked Brian, it was the hardest thing I've had to do. I know what you're like, would you take the team for training over the next couple of days and possibly for Manchester United.' Obviously I needed to think about it, speak to Brian and check he was OK with that. Once we had done that, I quickly prepared for two days of training to quickly fall into the role.

Emotionally, it must have come at an absolute bombshell? Brian said he was distraught, you must have been too.
Yes, it was just a shock. I remember before that it was a real shock for Brendan. We had a Christmas party the night before - Brendan was there and it just makes you realise how tough this game is. But Brian is very strong. He's strong personally and strong professionally because he's got a great record as a manager. 

What a baptism of fire - Manchester United.
It is. But I honestly think it's an opportunity for us. For the group and Tim you know them well, they are really good people. We talk about cliches and things but you have to because it's the truth. They'll be really fired up to show their quality because they really want to do it for Brian, for themselves and their families.

And in terms of baptisms, if you look at this morning with the press conference, it's just a different level. It's interesting - it used to just be Radio Devon, the Express & Echo and Western Morning News! Of course I know all about Radio Berkshire because I always enjoy listening to it. I know Micky Gooding - he's a great man, we spent a week together at Lilleshall a long time ago and we got on like a house on fire. I always enjoy listening to it because it's always positive and fun. And it's a different world for the club now.

I do know them - they are a very loyal bunch and a very tight bunch, and they were always incredibly supportive of everything Brian did as a unit. Does that help you in your cause as a motivational factor because, as you said, they were on the floor on Monday with that news.

Yes, that really helps. The senior players have given me great help - people like Jobi, Feds, Mikele, Shorey, Hartey and so on. They've all given me great support because they know what I'm about. I'm fair, we work hard and we'll give it a good go.

Tell us a bit about the players' emotions when you saw them on the Tuesday morning.
There was a sense of mourning - your friends have gone, Nigel and Brian. I'd say I've always been close with Brian. So you have that and then you must reflect on it and then you have to come up with a course of action. You can quit, you can lie down, or you can get up and do something positive to make a statement. And the most positive statement we can make is by getting a result at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Tell us a little bit about who your 'Nigel Gibbs' is going to be on Saturday as obviously you need a new team around you to sit on the bench. Who are you going to look to from that point of view?
We're going to take Dave Dodds and Martin Kuhl. Martin has played over 500 league games, he's been an assistant manager winning promotions. David Dodds is a very well respected man - there'll be part of the group on Saturday.

You've got the senior players sidelined who you'll presumably use as well - I presume you have spoken to Jason Roberts for example, Adam Federici and Jimmy Kebe at some point?
Yes, I've spoken to all of them. They've all been supportive and they are very receptive. We don't have any 'Big-time Charlie's' - everyone just gets on with it.

What do you think you can bring to this role in the immediate future? It's a fast turnaround, what are you going to do in the next 48 hours to give yourself the best chance at Old Trafford?
I'll just bring myself, do my best, continue the good work that's gone on. And try and help confidence and belief ahead of the game to get the result - that's all you can do. You can try and cram too much work in, that can be a temptation. I'm very experienced in football and really proud of my record as a manager. I'm proud about the work that we do and this group know what they're doing and know we need to squeeze a few little areas in a very subtle way to somehow force it our way as opposed to against us.

39 months ago, almost to the day, I asked Brian the same question: Are you in it for the long term or just in it for Saturday?
Win the next game - I think that's the usual mantra isn't it and…

That's exactly what he said! 
…I hope to be at Reading for a long time. I know it's a bit bland, I was aware of that in the press conference this morning, but the first thing I have to be is respectful - to Brian and the club. Genuinely, when they were asking questions about the owner, I wasn't covering up. I'm not under any pressure from him whatsoever. I've spoken to him a couple of times and he's put me under no pressure and that's the truth. Wouldn't it be great to get a result - and if we did, then the first person we'll be thinking of is Brian.

You're quite a calm, cool sort of a guy. There was masses of people in that media room - your sense of perspective on life - you've been through some quite tough times outside and inside of football, how relevant is that? Particularly, recovering from cancer and that battle probably puts all thi nonsense into perspective doesn't it?
It does, definitely. I played at the highest level, the Premier League didn't exist but I played in the First Division. I was a really good young player but between 19 and 25 I had 14 operations, and that was devastating for me. But I battled back each time and then the culmination was that at the age of 25 I got cancer and that focuses you a bit - it's a really good story but I won't bore you with it now. But we got over it and that's why life is great. The sun is shining and I'm passionate about football. I'm passionate on the touchline because it's football. But, of course, that helps. It also doesn't mean that it's not really serious as well. I've got over cancer - that's the real thing which is great. There is a perspective but the main perspective is getting that result on Saturday.

How excited are you? Because it's an amazing transformation in the space of one week. Sir Alex Ferguson, the biggest club in the world, what are your emotions going into the game at 5.30 on Saturday?
I'm really excited. As an Academy manager, it's a tough job. There's so much to do - it's a tough tough job with the Elite Player Performance Plan, which is really tough - but great for English football. We've really embraced it at Reading and a few days off from that has been really enjoyable! Is anyone ever not excited to go to Old Trafford? We're going there and the key thing for me is that this team have earned that. As a club, let's be honest, we're tight-knit. Even the local radio are tight - we've all earned the right and that's why we get disappointed - we all want that to continue. It's that kind of atmosphere. We all did it, we all want to stay in it. Come on, let's just do it and that's the sentiment.

With nine games to go, you're confident you can save it and it's going to happen?
Yeah, genuinely. 

Finally, if I can, are we calling you an interim manager? That's caused some ruck over the last few weeks, how should I refer to you in commentary on Saturday?
Eamonn is good! They used to call me Eamo at Exeter which is fine too!

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