Brian McDermott has left his role at Arsenal in order to begin his second reign as manager of Reading. The former Leeds United boss has signed a two-and-a-half year deal to return to the Madejski Stadium as the permanent successor to Steve Clarke, who was sacked on 4 December amid a poor run of form and controversy over his decision to hold talks with Championship rivals Fulham about their vacant managerial position.
McDermott's previous spell in Berkshire saw the club enjoy promotion to the top flight of English football for only the second time in their long history. Succeeding Brendan Rodgers initially in a caretaker capacity back in December 2009, the popular 54-year-old led the Royals to two FA Cup quarter-finals in addition to one play-off final before winning the Championship in 2011-12 with the sort of blistering late-season form that became his trademark.
Since departing Massimo Cellino's Leeds in May 2014 in somewhat farcical circumstances, he has been working for Arsenal – a club for whom he scored 13 goals in 72 appearances during his playing career – in a scouting capacity. He resigned from that particular role earlier in December amid rumours over his impending return to Reading, although the deal evidently took a little while to complete given it was first rumoured just days after Clarke was shown the door.
"I had a few offers to come back but it wasn't right, this felt right. Arsenal have been first class to let me go," McDermott, who joined the second-tier outfit as chief scout in 2000 and held a number of roles under the likes of Alan Pardew and Steve Coppell, was quoted as saying by The Sun at a press conference to confirm his appointment.
"I text Arsene and he told me to keep him informed and then wished me good luck. I'm really pleased to come back, if it didn't feel right then it wouldn't have happened. We have some talented players and I'm really looking forward to working with them."
McDermott's previous stint at Reading ended on a sour note when he was dismissed by former majority owner Anton Zingarevich in March 2013 and replaced by Nigel Adkins with the team four points adrift of Premier League safety. He arrives back at a time when the current squad, who were second earlier in the season, have fallen to 13th after a dismal run of only one victory in 10 matches and four straight defeats.