Reading manager Brian McDermott says he has Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew to thank for kickstarting his coaching career – before the two go head-to-head in an FA Cup quarter-final on Friday.
McDermott first met Pardew, who was then in charge of Reading, watching a reserve fixture at Brentford’s Griffin Park in 1999.
Pardew later approached McDermott to join Reading as the club’s chief scout and under-17 manager in 2000, a few days after McDermott lost his job as manager of non-league outfit Woking.
McDermott would spend three years working under Pardew, who guided the Royals back into the second tier before leaving to join West Ham.
“If it wasn’t for Alan, I probably wouldn’t be here,” McDermott told BBC South Today.
“It was just a chance meeting. We had a good chat at the game and then I worked with him for three years.
“He started something at Reading that was very, very special. He put a team together that Steve Coppell carried on and he’s been part of a history that’s seen an awful lot of success.
“It was quite strange at the time but I got that phone call. I am glad I was there that day – it was meant to be. I’ll always be grateful to him for bringing me here.”
After spells in charge of the reserve and youth teams and a period as caretaker manager, McDermott was appointed Reading boss in January 2010.
“I have done nearly every job at this club,” said the 54-year-old, who returned to the club in December after 13 months at Leeds United.
‘Palace have good threats’
McDermott and Pardew are good friends but there will be no room for sympathy when their two teams meet on Friday.
Championship club Reading are unbeaten at home in 2016, while Palace are on an awful Premier League run – their three wins since the start of January have all come in the FA Cup.
McDermott was at Selhurst Park to watch Palace lose to Liverpool on Sunday, courtesy of a late Christian Benteke penalty.
He continued: “They were very unfortunate not to win the game, they played well, they have good threats and it was not so long ago they were winning every week.
“They will be hurting after that result but we have to take care of ourselves, we have to make sure that we perform.
“This is a Premier League side coming to a Championship club.”
One step further?
Reading hold fond memories of the FA Cup, having reached the semi-finals under Steve Clarke last season, and they have already recorded one scalp over Premier League opposition this term, beating West Bromwich Albion 3-1 at home in the fifth round.
McDermott himself has enjoyed plenty of cup success with the Royals, leading them to consecutive FA Cup quarter-finals in 2010 and 2011.
“It would be fantastic to be able to walk out at Wembley,” he said. “It means an awful lot to the fans, players and to the owners. We want to put on a really good performance.”
When asked for a poignant memory in the competition, McDermott is quick to answer.
“It’s 2-1 at Anfield,” he says, recalling the extra-time victory over Liverpool in an FA Cup third-round replay in 2010, while in caretaker charge of the club.
“Brynjar Gunnarsson nutmegging one of the Liverpool players, crossing the best ball I have ever seen into the box and then Shane Long heading the best header I have ever seen into the back of the net and us winning. That stands out.”