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Gilkes: Reading FC boss McDermott is magic

Michael Gilkes has predicted that Reading manager Brian McDermott will take the Premier League by storm next season.

Elm Park legend Gilkes, who holds the fourth best appearance record for Royals with 487 games to his name – including a Simod Cup winners’ medal – has witnessed in awe as McDermott guided his former club to promotion.

As Reading prepare for only their third ever season in the top flight, Gilkes is confident that McDermott will be able to lead his squad to safety in 2012/13.

“He just keeps on improving,” said former flier Gilkes.

“Being in the Premier League will be Brian’s biggest test so far, but I’m sure he is relishing it as much as everyone else at the club. The way the team is structured and they play has this real calming sense about it.

“Everyone knows what they are doing and everyone is very professional in the way that they do it.

“They team looks relaxed and confident, without arrogance, and that’s a great quality to have. So credit has to go to the manager who has clearly developed that amongst the squad.

“One of the hardest things to do in football is to man-manage players. You have 20 plus players who all want to play and are good enough to do that.

"If a team is winning, people have to wait for their chance and players have to understand that.

“To get back into the Premier League in the way that they have is another special moment in Reading's history.

“I don’t think anyone enjoyed playing Reading in the Championship last season because they were such a solid team.

"They fully deserved to go on and win and it’s great to have them back for the club and everyone in the town.”

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A host of names continue to be linked with joining McDermott’s Royals revolution from Jermain Defoe and Joe Cole to Chris Gunter and Matthew Connolly.

Goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers have been mentioned in their droves – and 48-year-old Gilkes believes that keeping the squad as competitive as possible will be another driving force towards a successful campaign.

“Every area is key. You just want to add to each department and that can be a difficult job to do in the bracket that Reading will be looking to spend.

"Brian has proved he knows exactly how to do that with his previous signings.

“Out of the 11 players that ever play for the club they all want to be stars. But the only way you can do that is by performing and hopefully they all continue to do so.”

Fans’ favourite Gilkes came home last season when he was recruited by Academy manager Eamonn Dolan to join the club as a coach on a part-time basis.

With Royals needing to grow their Academy in preparation for Category 1 status in line with the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) – Gilkes admits his role could become more hands-on.

“I’ve got all my badges and I’m back in at Reading getting involved in the Under-15 and 16s on day-release and I’ve really enjoyed that. Hopefully that will progress into next season and we will see what happens.

“To get back in at this level is very difficult as people who have jobs at this level don’t give them up and you need some of the highest qualifications possible.

“Hopefully an opportunity will come around. Reading’s Academy speaks for itself.

"So many players have come through and done very well and I’m sure there will be more coming through soon. It’s looking positive.

“The Academy and the work that goes into it is vitally important for the club. Eamonn and all the coaches behind the scenes do a great job to assist and improve the younger players – it’s great to be part of that too.”

Gilkes also continues to keep his hand in at first-team level as a coach with Hungerford Town in the EVO-STIK Southern League Division One Central.

“We did very well and finished fifth and lost a play-off semi-final. It’s very different to what I do at Reading – but I also enjoy working with the adults and the changing room environment.

“Dealing with adults is different to teenagers. You get a lot more resistance at times and you have to battle against different things, but I enjoy that.”

However, Gilkes has a burning desire to manage one day.

And having witnessed Brian McDermott get offered the manager’s job with Royals just two years ago, knows anything could happen.

He added: “I would love to have the opportunity to. You never know what might happen and things in football can change overnight. It’s always been like that and always will be.

“When opportunities come you have to be ready to take them and I feel I am a lot better placed right now than before, so let's see what happens.”

By Jonny Fordham, Reading Post

30 May 2012



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