sport

McDermott consumed by escape bid

Brian McDermott finds it impossible to switch off from the all-consuming job of management as he plots Reading's Premier League survival.

A solitary victory has left the Royals second from bottom in the table and they face a critical relegation showdown with 18th-placed Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday.

McDermott admits he fails at any attempt to divert his attention away from planning Reading's escape from relegation, but the 51-year-old believes the challenge facing him has honed his managerial skills.

"I play the guitar now and then and read books, but I'm always thinking about the next training session, player I need to talk to, our next game. It's all about football and where we have got to get to," he said.

"I'm a better manager this season than I was last season. Results wouldn't suggest that, but I think I will be a better manager for this experience.

"I've learnt that I'm very resilient and the only way to deal with a situation is to look at the present, not the future nor the past.

"In the last two years I've had to deal with the play-off final defeat and success of winning the Championship.

"In it's own way they have their own difficulties and that's a funny thing to say, but there are interesting dynamics with both of them."

Reading's precarious position has left McDermott fourth in the Premier League sack race, despite spending little money on strengthening his squad during the summer.

A 2-1 victory over Everton in mid-November raised hopes of a change in fortunes at Madejski Stadium, but three successive defeats heading into this month's hectic schedule has restored the gloom.

McDermott has embraced the most difficult period of his managerial career, but suggests that Reading are perhaps being judged too harshly as speculation over his future mounts.

"As a manager I'm working hard to get the solutions and this is where you earn your money," he said.

"This is where you find out about everybody and everything and, believe it or not, I'm relishing it. Would I say I'm having a great time? No.

"It's an experience I've not really had before because we have had nothing but success.

"Is this success for Reading right now? Doing what we are doing with what we have spent - that is a discussion you could have.

"I knew the questions I'm being asked would come, they're obvious when you haven't won for three games. It's 2012, it's where we are."

A run of eight points from five games has eased the pressure on Saints manager Nigel Adkins, dropping him beneath his friend McDermott his the sack race.

"I know Nigel really well. He's done a fantastic job over a period of time, performing miracles to get them into this division with two promotions in two years," McDermott said.

"I have nothing but admiration for Nigel, he's a terrific manager. They've invested a lot of money in the summer so they've brought quality."