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I wanted to sign Everton FC’s Fellaini too - but David Moyes beat us all to it, says Reading boss Brian McDermott

BRIAN McDermott is the latest football manager to admit his membership of a popular and like-minded club.

BRIAN McDermott is the latest football manager to admit his membership of a popular and like-minded club.

The Reading boss has gone on record to say he – alongside countless other bosses across Europe – at one time considered signing Marouane Fellaini but didn’t.

In fairness to the bright and articulate 51-year-old it was more a case of being unable to afford the gangly 17-year-old who lit up a youth tournament he attended in Portugal six years ago – but many others went on to pass on the option of making Standard Liege an offer they couldn’t refuse for their promising power-house.

Not so David Moyes. The Everton boss is famously cautious when it comes to spending the rationed resources at his disposal, but he saw enough back in 2008 to sanction a club record £15m bid for the Belgian giant.

Few would argue it was not a wise move, especially the growing band of admirers at top Champions League clubs who await their chance to lure Fellaini in the summer, but McDermott says it is no coincidence that Moyes got it right.

In his first season in charge at the Madejski Stadium, the former Arsenal midfielder steered Reading into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in 83 years, a run that included knocking out Liverpool at Anfield. The following season he repeated the feat, this time with an away win at Goodison.

But he admits he is still a rookie in comparison to Moyes – the man who bought Fellaini and turned him into a force of nature, as he has with so many others.

“I’ve known Fellaini since he was 17. I was watching a tournament, I think it might have been in Porto, in around 2006,” he said.

“I asked about him to see if he would come to Reading, but at that time he was 17 and was £7million so we were nowhere near it.

“David Moyes is a great manager and he has done it at this level for a long, long time and proven to be one of the great managers,” he said.

“I have done two or three years as manager and my record, up to the last 10 games, has been okay.

“But David is a great manager because he has stood the test of time – I think longevity is really, really important and that is what you try to get as a manager because it is good for the club.

“You tend to find the most successful clubs are the ones where the manager has been around for a while.

“I’m not surprised (by his success). You look at the manager and the staff he has got round him, and the players he has got, and what he has got is a real spirit there and a really good group.

“I was just looking at his squad – what he has there is quality.

“In comparison to what people spend at that end of the table he has done a fantastic job. He is a great manager and I really like him, I like spending time in his company.”

Now McDermott must try and fight against the odds in the way Moyes has managed so often over the years as he bids to lift the Royals from 18th place in the table – but it is a job he is relishing with optimism.

Last weekend’s 0-0 stalemate at home to Norwich – Everton’s next opponents – was the latest of six draws Reading have had since their top flight return, and McDermott claims the ability shown by his side in those fixtures indicates they are heading in the right direction.

“The bottom line is that we have drawn six games out of 10 and five games out of six,” he said.

“So obviously we are drawing a lot which means we are in the games; the only thing we are looking at now is getting the right result against Everton.

“We’ve won a lot of games here in the last two-and-a-half to three years, we want to get a result and get three points because every team by definition wants to do that, and then we move on to the next game.

“We are very much living in the moment.

“Obviously we haven’t won a game in 10 but we’ve got six points and six results, we could have had six wins because a draw can be a win very easily.”

The goalless draw with Norwich brought Reading’s first clean sheet of the season and came just 11 days after McDermott saw his side leak seven goals in the Capital One Cup against Arsenal.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton said after last weekend’s game that striking a balance between a tight defence and a threatening attack is harder for the smaller clubs in the league, an assessment McDermott agrees with.

“We have been scoring goals so if we can keep being solid I know we are going to score goals.

“Chris is right, you do need to get that balance right and that is what we are trying to do at the moment,” he said.

“We didn’t create enough in that particular game, we came off the back of a 7-5 and went to QPR and looked more solid.

“We looked solid again against Norwich and that is a starting point.

“I think you need that starting point and now you have to get the balance right in attack as well.”

 

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