Di Matteo favourite to replace McDermott
former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is the leading candidate to replace Brian McDermott, who was sacked by Reading's Russian owner Anton Zingarevich yesterday with the club 19th in the Premier League and four points from safety.
Di Matteo (42) has not worked in the game since he was sacked by Chelsea last November and has not yet even given an interview about his departure from the club he won the Champions League with last May.
He was thought to be one of the contenders for the Southampton job when they sacked Nigel Adkins in January.
In a statement released by Reading at 5.30pm yesterday, a spokesman for the club said that "in our current situation, owner Anton Zingarevich felt that a change was necessary".
The new appointee will have nine games to save Reading's Premier League status, with their next match away to leaders Manchester United on Saturday.
Another contender is Paolo Di Canio (44), who left Swindon Town last month was at the Madejski Stadium last Saturday when Reading lost 2-1 to Aston Villa.
McDermott's availability will be noted by the FAI, who may soon be looking for a new manager if it all goes wrong for Giovanni Trapattoni in next week's World Cup double header with Sweden and Austria.
McDermott has Irish parents and has admitted that managing Ireland is one of his ambitions.
Last week, Liam Brady acknowledged that Trapattoni could be under pressure if qualification looks out of the question.
Brady suggested that McDermott would not make his top three of possible replacements, with Chris Hughton, Mick McCarthy and Owen Coyle favoured.
However, Hughton and McCarthy are currently in employment and for financial reasons it would be easier for the FAI to bring in someone who is out of work in the event that change was required.
The Reading manager was said to have told friends he was "devastated" by yesterday's developments.
His team rallied after Christmas, beating West Ham, West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle, drawing with Chelsea and suffering just one defeat, to Spurs.
McDermott had been hopeful of building on that good run with some new signings in the January transfer window.
There was a genuine feeling that Zingarevich – who bought the club for £25m last May – would supply substantial funds to boost the squad.
However, McDermott was left frustrated at what he perceived to be a lack of financial support in the transfer market, particularly in the January window when his team were still in the relegation zone.
A club-record £10m bid for Gylfi Sigurdsson, the former Reading midfielder, was rejected by Tottenham Hotspur on deadline day, while an attempt to sign Blackpool's Thomas Ince was turned down by the player himself.