WEST Ham legend Paolo Di Canio emerged as a surprise contender for the vacant managerial post at Reading last night, following the departure of Brian McDermott from the Madejski Stadium hotseat.
Di Canio, 44, guided Swindon Town to promotion from League Two last season in his first managerial role, but resigned from his post last month after becoming increasingly frustrated with boardroom issues and a delayed takeover bid of the Wiltshire club.
However, just hours after McDermott was relieved of his duties as Reading manager, following five straight defeats, bookmakers slashed Di Canio’s price to fill the vacancy from 12/1 to odds-on favourite.
A statement issued by the Royals confirmed: “Reading Football Club has announced the departure of manager Brian McDermott.
“Owner Anton Zingarevich wishes to place on record his thanks to Brian who had achieved great success with the club since taking over as manager in December 2009.
“Brian gained promotion to the Barclays Premier League last year for only the second time in the club’s history thanks to a remarkable run at the end of last season. However, in our current situation, Zingarevich felt that a change was necessary.”
Reading sunk to 19th in the Premier League table following Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa and are four points away from safety with nine games to go.
They face trips to Manchester United and Arsenal in their next two Premier League games and are hopeful of making an appointment by the weekend.
Nigel Adkins and former Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo are among the other leading contenders.
LIFE OF BRIAN
Former Arsenal midfielder Brian McDermott joined Reading as chief scout in 2000, after managerial spells at Slough and Woking. He was appointed Reading manager in 2009 and last season guided the Royals to promotion from the Championship. McDermott was named Barclays Manager of the Month for January. He was sacked yesterday.