All the other leading clubs fans will be feeling nervous too, says McCarthy
Every football fan is intrinsically pessimistic. Mick McCarthy has been around the game long enough by now to know that.
There is a palpable sense of nerves among Blues supporters heading into a set of make-or-break fixtures. A look around the other leading club’s online forums suggests their fans are feeling exactly the same.
“Unfortunately nervousness and trepidation and worry turns into a whole surge of negativity,” said McCarthy. “That’s everywhere by the way.
“Not one fan of all the top six or seven will be thinking their team is going to win promotion. They might at some stage but will then convince themselves that ‘we’re playing them so that will happen’ and ‘oh, they’ve just signed this fella’.
“They’ll all be doing that and that’s just natural. To an extent I think we all do it. But that’s when you put the professional head on.”
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Town suffered just one defeat in 20 matches at the back end of 2014. In 2015 their record in all competitions is P14 W4 D3 L7.
“That’s the same for everybody,” said McCarthy. “We’re five points off the top, so you could be having this conversation at every club towards the top in the Championship. Nobody has run away with it.
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“Derby, Middlesbrough... We all have our good runs and our bad spells.
“Why is it harder? Is it because we’re all playing each other again and start sussing each other out? Does it just get tougher physically? I’ve no idea. I haven’t got an answer for you.
“It’s got tougher for everyone and the next 10 games are going to be even tougher for everybody.”
Town produced one of their most convincing performances of the season in the reverse fixture against Middlesbrough, comfortably winning 2-0 at Portman Road last December.
“That was a great performance – a terrific victory,” said McCarthy. “It was similar last season (a 3-1 win at Portman Road) and I know Aitor Karanka’s side were waiting for us when we went back up there and they turned us over that day (2-0 defeat at the Riverside). I think it will be similar tomorrow in that they’ll be ready for us.
“They know what we’re about, we know what they’re about. It will be a real high intensity game.”
Asked if playing away can be an advantage in these high stakes games, McCarthy replied: “Truthfully, I’d sooner be playing Middlesbrough here. So I ain’t going to b******t you and make out that there’s some silver lining. We’ll have to go up there and play really well and be at the top of our game against one of the best teams in the league. We’ll have to be bang at it. If we’re not, we might be coming back down the road with our tails between our legs ruing a missed opportunity.
“I get the sentiment that, at this time of the season, if we score first or stop them scoring for 60/70 minutes then it could get nervy in the stands. Their fans, like everybody elses’, are no different. They’ll be nervous and edgy unless they’re winning.”
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