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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Zingarevich anguish over McDermott

Reading owner Anton Zingarevich has described his decision to sack manager Brian McDermott as the hardest of his life.

• Blog: Zingarevich wields axe

McDermott was sacked by Reading on Monday after a run of four successive defeats which left the club rooted in the relegation zone with nine matches remaining. Academy director Eamonn Dolan has been placed in temporary charge of the first team. Dolan and Zingarevich held a meeting with the players on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

"Anton told the players it was the hardest decision of his life, thanking all of the staff for their contribution," a statement issued by the club read. "He and Brian remain on good terms after meeting in person on Monday.

"Eamonn held a series of meetings throughout the day in preparation for Manchester United, and he is scheduled to speak to the media later this week in the build-up to the game."

Paolo Di Canio and Roberto Di Matteo continue to be linked with the Reading post while the football family continues to rally around McDermott, with Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas the latest to offer his support to the latest manager to be sacked from the Premier League.

"It was extremely disappointing," Villas-Boas told Sky Sports when asked about McDermott's exit. "I think it was along the same lines of what happened to Nigel [Adkins] at Southampton. Obviously it's not my decision, not my responsibility, but it's something that happens in the game.

"I just hope that Brian is able to continue to show his qualities, because it was his quality that put Reading in the Premier League. I think sometimes you are a victim of the success you have achieved. You do ever so well to put the club in the Premier League and then you pay a heavy price when you're not probably given the best conditions to succeed."

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