FORMER Reading defender Ady Williams has questioned the timing of the club's decision to sack manager Brian McDermott.
The 51-year-old was relieved of his duties at the Madejski Stadium by Russian owner Anton Zingarevich with the Royals sitting 19th in the Premier League after a run of four straight defeats.
McDermott had been named Manager of the Month in January but lost his job just 33 days later after back-to-back home losses to fellow strugglers Wigan and Aston Villa.
Academy manager Eamonn Dolan will take temporary charge of first-team matters until a successor can be found, with Paolo Di Canio and Roberto Di Matteo both heavily linked to the post.
But, even if a permanent boss was appointed before Saturday's trip to league-leaders Manchester United, he would have only nine games to ensure Reading's top-flight survival leaving Williams questioning the decision. "I think in all honesty the man that comes in will have to accept that relegation is odds-on," he said.
"I think it is a difficult task and I struggle with the timing.
"A defeat against Sunderland midway through December, I think that would have been the opportunity to bring someone new in with new ideas and possibly new signings as well.
"The timing, just nine cup finals for all Reading fans, the transfer window has come and gone, we expected him to be given control until the end of the season. We were surprised it was now and not earlier in the season if at all it was going to happen."
Former Wales international Williams does believe Zingarevich has a new man in mind, even though it is understood the club have yet to hold any official talks with any candidates.
"I think it is a statement of intent by the owner," he added. "I don't think he would have made the dismissal if he didn't already know who was going to come in place and hopefully keep the football club in the league – I don't think he has accepted Championship football at all."