Monday, 25 January 2016

Return of the Mac

Brian McDermott says returning to Reading is like “going back to family” after his “bonkers” time at Leeds.

The 54-year-old has returned for a second stint at the Royals.

His tenure at Elland Road ended in farce after he was TWICE sacked by owner Massimo Cellino.

Now McDermott is back among friends — and loving it.

He said: “A lot of pals warned me ‘never go back’, but this feels right and I’m really enjoying it.

“I had a few opportunities to go back into management but they didn’t feel right. This is a bit like going back to family.

“Me and the director of football, Nicky Hammond, go back a long way.

“And I’ve known some of the players since they were kids of 10, 11 years old.

“If we can all pull in the same direction then we can get something alarming going here.”

McDermott first joined Reading as a scout in 2000 and went on to become manager.

He led the Royals back to the Premier League in 2012 before being controversially sacked by Anton Zingarevich in March 2013.

Now the club is under new Thai ownership and McDermott says every- thing is geared up for promotion again.

McDermott added: “The fanbase is there, the stadium is great and we are building a new training centre.

“The owners have good ideas and are ambitious. Everything here is Premier League. We just need to get momentum going by giving the fans something to get behind.”

This optimism contrasts with his final months at Leeds. Cellino fired McDermott in January 2014 — before he had even bought the club or met the manager.

He was reinstated the next day, only to be sacked for good four months later. McDermott said: “It was a bonkers time, no doubt about it.

“I’d never seen anything like that before and hopefully never will again. It was tough, really difficult. What got me was that we didn’t even know each other.

“I think you have to build a relation- ship with someone before you make a judgement on them. I think my track record justified more time.”

He has nothing but praise for the long-suffering Leeds fans. McDermott added: “Until you become a part of that club, you don’t realise how big it is.

“I remember we went to Slovenia in pre-season and were outside this little pub in the middle of nowhere. There must have been 1,200 Leeds fans there and I thought, ‘wow, this is big’.

“I was struck by everything about the place and envy the man who takes them back to the Premier League, because it will be huge.”

After leaving the Yorkshire giants, McDermott became chief scout at Arsenal and says it was an invaluable experience.

He added: “I was travelling to Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, it was a great job. The organisation there is top drawer and Arsene Wenger is obviously a fantastic football man.

“I learnt a lot from him and even identified a few players who might be useful to us here at Reading.”

This article first appeared in The Sun on January 23rd 2016.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

What was Cellino really like at Cagliari?

We know a lot about Massimo Cellino's ownership of Leeds, but I've always been a little hazy about his time at Cagliari.

What are the facts and what is folklore?

Because the past can help us to predict the future, I asked Corriere della Serra's Giuseppe Amisani about Cellino.

Amisani got to know the maverick Italian very well during his two decades at Cagliari, although he emphasises their relationship was one of professional respect, not friendship.


Amisani: "The family business was founded by the father of Massimo Cellino, who was called Ercole and was from Piedmont. Gradually, the children took over the family business. Massimo - who I call Max - has two brothers, Alberto and Giorgio, and two sisters, Rossana and Lucina.

Rossana is a doctor. The other children participated in various capacities in family activities. With the passage of time, Massimo took over the shares of his brothers and sisters. In June 1992, he decided to buy Cagliari Calcio."


"Cellino was a good owner of Cagliari and was able to enhance the team and find many unknown stars.

With the fans he has always had a relationship of love and hate, depending on the results of the team.

When Cagliari were fine, everyone was happy. When the team was losing, the fans challenged the president.

In his final years as president, his enthusiasm waned and so did his popularity, so he decided to sell everything.

He always tried to be on the side of the fans I would say, choosing to keep the prices of the tickets as low as he could.

He had so many sports directors and many coaches though, this is true. But the arrival of a large number of unknowns as Victor Ibarbo was possible thanks to his intuition.

He is a football expert, so his coaches always compared him to the technical director of the club."


"Max married his wife in 1983 after returning from Australia. He went there to get experience and to open a new market for the family business.

Speculation about his personal life? Well, the fans always focused only on the performance of the team. I'd say he was a good president, though perhaps a little eccentric. But he acted for the good of Cagliari.

Sometimes there were excesses and hasty decisions that he took on instinct. But this is Massimo Cellino."