By Stuart Watson
Friday, November 23, 2012
Ipswich v Leicester: Hold on tight – it could be a rollercoaster ride.
That’s Mick McCarthy’s message to Ipswich Town supporters ahead of today’s game against fellow Championship strugglers Peterborough United at Portman Road.
The new Blues boss has already seen the best and worst of his side during his first four games in charge.
Victories over Birmingham (1-0) and Burnley (2-1) were full of organisation and spirit, while thrashings at in-form Crystal Palace (5-0) and Leicester (6-0) proved there is still a fragility about the team.
And McCarthy says he would reluctantly take similar inconsistencies – as well as a yo-yoing in and out of the bottom three – as long as the season ended with his side clear of the relegation zone.
“We are still in a bad state, but two wins from four is a good return,” said the pragmatic Blues boss. “That is my positive out of it.
“Winning 1-0 one week and losing 6-0 the next – I would take that. I don’t want the fans to see us lose by six again, and don’t think for one minute that I enjoyed or accepted that, but winning one and losing one from now until the end of the season – everyone would take that.”
There are still six games to go until the halfway point of the season, but it’s increasingly looking like a five-way fight for safety between Peterborough, Bristol City, Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley.
“Darren Ferguson (Peterborough manager) has described this game as ‘huge’ and I would have to agree with him,” said McCarthy. “Everybody wants me to dress this up as a ‘must-win’ game, but I won’t do that because if we don’t win it then what would I do? Pack up and go home?
“The only thing that is a ‘must’ is that we finish one point above three other teams to stay in this league. Getting out of the bottom three this weekend would be nice, but there’s no point being out of it for the next 15 games and then dropping back into it for the last 15.
“I tend to look at the long-term picture. I feel my team has got enough in them to pick up points here, there and everywhere. Then, when we get to January, I’ll make sure this is a better Ipswich Town team.
“We might win one, lose one and be in and out of the bottom three. The most important thing is we’re safe come May the fourth.”