The rise of the underdog: Reading’s Brian McDermott & Southampton’s Nigel Adkins

This seasons Championship has been an exciting affair, plenty of big teams battling for the right to return to the Premier League, but it was Reading and Southampton that were finally victorious in securing automatic promotion. After a tough season the best two teams have got their just rewards and that has a big compliment to the management skills of Reading’s Brian McDermott and Southampton’s Nigel Adkins. These two managers have come a long way on their managerial journey’s, it is fairytale stuff and we have decide to pay tribute to these two remarkable managers.

Brian McDermott – Reading – Champions

Reading may have been 12/1 fourth favourites to win the Championship this season, but after 4 years in the English footballs second tier, promotion was less than certain. Brian McDermott was the man tasked with taking Reading back to promised land after being handed the reigns in December 2009. McDermott guided Reading to a ninth place finish that first season, before going on to make the final of the playoffs last season, losing out to this seasons surprise Premier League package Swansea. Not a bad record for a man who is only in his first ‘big’ manager job, but  their were plenty of bumps along the way this season.


Bow down to King McDermott

Reading did not properly breach the top 10 in the Championship until round 22 of matches, which was in December last year. Even though the league was tight, Reading’s credentials for promotion were in doubt. McDermott remained confident and with the January transfer window approaching, he knew if he could get a couple of bodies in things could change. McDermott’s genius signing was Jason Roberts who had a profound affect on the team both on and off the field.

As we moved in to 2012 McDermott took his Reading side on a run of P21 W16 D1 L4 that took them to the top of the league, which they ended up winning by just one point. A quite remarkable change in fortunes and an amazing story which McDermott was the author of. Brian McDermott must be on cloud nine because he has come a long way….

Amazingly Reading is the first football league side that 51-year-old Brian McDermott has managed. His only other managerial experience has been in the non-league with Staines Town and Woking before former Southampton manager, and then Reading manager Alan Pardew, took McDermott on as chief scout at the Madejski in 2000. Since then McDermott worked his way from scout, to under19’s manager, before stepping up to reserves. He got his chance with Reading’s XI as caretaker manager after the departure of Brendan Rodgers to Swansea, before earning the chance to be permanent manager in January 2010.

McDermott worked hard and found an open door and had the ability to walk through it. Now McDermott gets to pit his wits against the best managers in the country and it will no doubt be a step learning curve for him. McDermott’s story is impressive, but then again Nigel Adkins has a tale to tell too….

Nigel Adkins – Southampton – Runners Up

It is not often a manager leads a team to back-to-back promotions in his first two seasons in change, well that is unless you are Nigel Adkins. Southampton were not readily tipped to gain promotion this season; despite having a good team they were fresh out of League One and to think they could instantly gain promotion to the Premier League was just a dream. They started the season as 13th favourties to win the division at 16/1 and they were rank outsiders for promotion. To say many undervalued the abilities of Adkins’ men is an understatement.


Adkins doing his best Gary Lineker lookalike

Southampton flew out of the blocks and picked up where they had left off the season before as they dominated the Championship throughout the season, never dropping below second place. ‘Unbelievable Jeff!’ doesn’t do this run justice. Adkins had largely the same squad as he did during his first season in League One, which was mainly made up of youngsters with potential and players that his predecessor Alan Pardew had bought in. Adkins got them playing his way and with a few key additions they were able to secure automatic promotion. Not bad for a manager who started out as a physio.

Adkins had a football career blighted by injuries, which he finished off at Welsh League club Bangor City as player manager. In 1996 he joined Scunthorpe United as a physiotherapist and had to wait 10 years before getting another crack at management when he was appointed caretaker manager at the club before becoming permanent manager a month later. From here Adkins hasn’t looked back and it seems like he was made for football management. He guided Scunthorpe to two promotion before Southampton made their move and the rest is history.

In football it is not often that you see two underdogs such as Nigel Adkins and Brian McDermott work hard and prosper in such a tough industry. The fact they have is a testament to their personalities, attitudes and work ethics and now they have the ultimate reward. Neither achievement from managers who are still so new to their trade should be down played. They have already carved out solid reputations, but the hard work is just beginning. Fair play to both these men, their CV’s are already impressive reads, they have great futures, but more importantly they are role models for anyone who wants to get in to football management. Best of luck in the Premier League boys!

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  1. Scummer Rich says:

    Nigel Adkins – Saints legend in the making. Truly inspirational manager.

  2. Nigel Adkins feels gutted because he did not win the championship. If D Deadman had done his job on the night we played Cardiff , he would of. Great young manager who has the trust of 99.9 per cent of the fans . Would not like to see him go for a very long time. Thanks Nigel.

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