Ferguson is renowned for giving a helping hand to up-and-coming coaches, but McDermott was taken aback by how quickly the Scot agreed to come to his aid. Refusing to reveal exactly what he discussed with his opposite number, McDermott said:
"I spoke to him in January about something that I needed to address and he was very helpful to me and giving me good advice.
"I spoke to his son and asked him if he wouldn't mind Sir Alex giving me a ring.
"And, five minutes after that conversation, a private number came up and it was him.
"So, that just tells you the calibre of the man and what he's about." Pressed over what was said, he added:
"That's between him and me and obviously just talking to him was good for me.
"I don't know him particularly well but I just know him from that instance and I know that he's done that with a lot of young managers in the past.
"He does a lot for football and for people in the game, and everyone respects that." McDermott admits he faces one of the biggest tests of his managerial career when Manchester United visit the Madejski Stadium on Saturday. "He has done it, been there, seen it," he said. "Everybody's got the ultimate respect for Sir Alex and everything he's achieved."