LONDON (Reuters) – A brief spell in charge of then minor league Exeter City hardly arms Eamonn Dolan with the coaching credentials to take on Britain’s most successful manager but when you have survived cancer even a trip to Old Trafford is not that daunting.
Dolan found himself put in charge of Reading this week after the Premier League relegation battlers sacked Brian McDermott and his first task is to pick a team to try to stop runaway leaders Manchester United on Saturday.
While Alex Ferguson has won 48 trophies as a manager, including 11 league titles, two Champions Leagues and five FA Cups since beginning his reign at Old Trafford, Dolan spent one season as manager of Exeter where his playing career had been cut short in 1993 because of testicular cancer.
The 45-year-old caretaker manager is relishing the chance to try to out-wit Ferguson.
"You can quit, you can lie down, or you can get up and do something positive to make a statement," Dolan, who had been managing the club’s academy, told reporters this week.
"And the most positive statement we can make is by getting a result at Old Trafford on Saturday."
"The sun is shining and I’m passionate about football. I’m passionate on the touchline because it’s football.
"I’ve got over cancer – that’s the real thing which is great. There is a perspective but the main perspective is getting that result on Saturday."
Four consecutive league defeats after a stirring start to the new year have left Reading joint bottom with big-spending Queens Park Rangers and the Berkshire club have nine games to try to claw their way to safety.
It does not get much easier after United with a trip to Arsenal to follow but Irishman Dolan prefers to look on Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford as a chance to kickstart the club’s fight for survival.
"I honestly think it’s an opportunity for us," he said. "The group earned the right to play in this great league and you don’t want to surrender that.
"They’ll be really fired up to show their quality because they really want to do it for Brian, for themselves and their families."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Clare Fallon)
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