Royals boss primed for Palace visit in Emirates FA Cup

Friday 11 Mar 2016
Reading boss Brian McDermott
On Friday night the apprentice will hope to get one over on his former master when Brian McDermott’s Reading welcome Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace to the Madejski Stadium.

The former was a scout for the latter at the turn of the century, their paths crossing following a chance meeting at a Brentford reserve team game at Griffin Park when McDermott was in charge at Woking.

Reading v Crystal Palace

The Emirates FA Cup
Madejski Stadium
7.55pm Friday 11 March 2016
Live on BBC 1

McDermott was sacked days after that game and Pardew invited him to become Reading’s chief scout as well as their Under-17s coach.

In Berkshire he stayed and nine years later McDermott was handed the first-team managerial reins following Brendan Rodgers’ dismissal. And a remarkable record as caretaker manager, including an Emirates FA Cup victory at Anfield, earned the former Arsenal midfielder handed his big break.

The rest is history, but McDermott has not forgotten his roots.

“Alan Pardew was the man who brought me here in the first place after a chance meeting at Brentford,” explained McDermott, who has won, drawn and lost in three previous managerial meetings with Pardew.

Watch highlights of Reading's 2015 Emirates FA Cup semi-final

“I don’t know what he saw in me that day, but I’m pleased we met. He helped get me here.

“I spoke to him when the draw for the sixth round was made. We came out of the hat first and I just knew what was coming next.

“It’s going to be a great night on Friday, under the lights at the Madejski and playing against a really good friend of mine, who did a great job here.”

Alan Pardew wiith Brian McDermott in 2013

Alan Pardew wiith Brian McDermott in 2013

Reading have been synonymous with the latter stages of the Emirates FA Cup in recent years, so it is perhaps no surprise to see them still flying the flag for the Football League again.

The Royals suffered a semi-final defeat to eventual winners Arsenal last term under then-boss Steve Clarke and in three of the last five seasons have got to the last-16 and beyond.

The competition is also particularly special for McDermott.

Watch video highlights of Crystal Palace's fifth round win over Tottenham

The Royals’ 2010 run to the quarter-finals began with McDermott, a month into the job, guiding them to victory in a third round replay at Liverpool with goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Shane Long – both players McDermott had found on scouting missions on Pardew’s behalf.

It was the 54-year-old’s first managerial win and Reading’s first ever at Anfield and McDermott is hopeful of further chances to write a chapter in Reading’s history books before May.

“It’s been a good competition for us in the last few years and it would be great to get to Wembley again”

Brian McDermott 

“It’s been a good competition for us in the last few years and it would be great to get to Wembley again, but we have a massive game first,” he added.

“My best memory of the FA Cup was that night at Anfield. I look back at that night and think perhaps I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for that game.

“It was a great night for everyone involved with Reading, the fans particularly, and we want to give them more great nights.

“I have confidence in my squad and the players are a confident group. But we know there is some real talent in the Crystal Palace team, plenty of pace at the top of the pitch and an Alan Pardew team will be very well organised. It should be a great occasion.”

By Josh Richards Digital Producer