As Brian McDermott begins his Leeds reign with a win, he will already be plotting to prove his former employer wrong next season.
The common consensus is that Reading should never have parted with Brian McDermott. In fact the only people who may beg to differ are the fans of Leeds United, who have already started to see what the former Royals manager is capable of.
A 2-1 home win against Sheffield Wednesday in McDermott’s opening game will not prompt calls of promotion runs and a glistening future. But in securing three points, the new boss has also secured Leeds’ Championship stability.
In a league for which the word “unpredictable” just doesn’t do it justice, McDermott took the job at Elland Road knowing that ensuring safety was his first task.
Now, he will set about proving one club wrong and another club right.
The club he aims to prove wrong is his former Premier League employer. Although in truth it is less the club, more the owner Anton Zingarevich, who dismissed him with just nine games to go and replaced him with practically his carbon copy in Nigel Adkins.
It was a series of moves that made no sense. Adkins had a history of lower league promotion. But then so did McDermott. And he is now hell-bent on ensuring Leeds return to the top flight as soon as possible.
McDermott will feel a sense of injustice regarding his dismissal for some time to come. But he must now turn that feeling into a positive.
With Reading almost certainly returning to the second tier next season, you can be sure McDermott will do all he can to come back to haunt them.
There is some way to go yet, but should he take Leeds into the Premier League at the expense of the Royals, it will be a bittersweet moment with an emphasis on the sweet.
But United fans must be patient. They know they have a good manager, who preaches an attractive football philosophy and has a history of both league success and giant-killing. But that took time at Reading. They were patient.
Leeds must be the same, should what they crave not come instantly.
The Championship is such that had McDermott arrived a few weeks earlier, you wouldn’t have discounted Leeds making a promotion push in a similar vein to Nottingham Forest.
But with only four games left this season, even if they all end in success it may be more as practise for the next campaign than anything else.
McDermott is a manager with plenty of fans. He will bring spirit and smarts to a Leeds side that have been out of the top flight for too long. He will also be fuelled by the simmering flames of a wronged man.
Don’t bet against him proving that the only man wrong was the one who deemed him not good enough for his club.
Is McDermott the man to bring top flight football back to Leeds? And should the club give him the time to do so?
image: © Chris Robertshaw