Four points from safety, but with just eight matches remaining, Reading made the surprising decision to dispense with McDermott despite him having led the club to promotion just 10 months ago. After a revival at the start of the year, Reading have now lost four straight in the league, bur Ferguson has said he was surprised by the timing of the dismissal.
"There are some things you can never understand,” he said, according to Manchester United’s official website. “Football is full of that. To sack Brian McDermott at this time of year was strange to say the least. He was manager of the month in January—I hope I am not manager of the month this month."
After the huge disappointment of exiting the Champions League against Real Madrid, United failed to capitalize on two early goals in their FA Cup quarterfinal with Chelsea on Sunday as they ended up drawing 2-2.
Nani, who inspired United to victory over Reading in the last round of the Cup , was taken off against Chelsea and will miss Saturday’s clash with a hamstring injury. Phil Jones is also still absent and Ferguson is expecting a tough test with Reading desperate for points.
"I always consider every game hard at this time of the season," he explained. "Reading are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the league. It is possible they could come here without a manager.”
Reading will be led by caretaker boss Eamonn Dolan for the daunting trip to Old Trafford. The former head of the club’s academy will be unable to call upon goalkeeper Adam Federici and midfielder Jimmy Kebe. Pavel Pogrebnyak will complete his three-match suspension, while Jason Roberts is a long-time absentee.
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Vidic, Evans, Evra
M: Carrick, Cleverley
Welbeck, Kagawa, Rooney
F: Van Persie
D: Kelly, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte
M: Leigertwood, Akpan,
McCleary, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu
F: Le Fondre
Prediction: Manchester United will want to respond after two disappointing performances and regain momentum in a season that could still produce two trophies. Reading could well get a reaction from the players following the manager’s dismissal and frustrate United for long periods, but the homes side should eventually get the breakthrough and secure the three points.
Manchester United 2-0 Reading
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick-off 1.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.