BIG INTERVIEW: Skipper Carlos Edwards on ‘clear the air’ talks with Mick McCarthy, his contract hopes and the dream of one day managing his beloved Ipswich Town
Ipswich Town club captain Carlos Edwards has been used sparingly in his fifth season at the club. STUART WATSON spoke to the 35-year-old about his ‘clear the air’ talks with manager Mick McCarthy, contract hopes and plans for life after playing.
Q: You’ve been a regular starter throughout your career, how frustrating has this season been (just 10 starts)?
A: “It was frustrating at a point, but you have to look at the bigger picture and the bigger picture is that the team comes first. At the end of the day I can’t be selfish and just look at myself and say ‘I want to play, I should be playing’. Yes, of course I want to play, but you have to look at the bigger picture and what’s best for the team.
“When we went on that unbeaten run the manager obviously changed it up a bit, he had a word with me and said the formation that he wanted to play (4-3-3) didn’t suit me. Yes, I was a bit upset about it, but you have to take it on the chin and continue doing what you do.
“Obviously I got my chance. It wasn’t the ideal chance because I wasn’t playing in my normal position, I was playing right-back in the FA Cup (at Preston) – although I did well I think – then it was Millwall away.
“I’m just going to continue to train, do the things that I know I’m capable of and the manager knows I’m capable of and just keep that smile on my face. I’ll just keep motivating the players to continue pushing.”
Q: The manager told us recently that you’d been to see him during your run out of the side and he told you to go away and calm down. How did that pan out?
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A:“Erm… It panned out, yeah, it panned out good. I had a word with him, I asked certain things just to clear the air and the rest is history!”
Q: So, clear the air talks with the manager, then last weekend we saw you go nose-to-nose with Millwall’s Scott Malone... You’ve always told us that you’re the most laid-back player around. Is this a new angry side?!
A: “No, no, no! I think that was just a bit of frustration (last weekend). The guy was silly kicking the ball at my head. And because we were playing rubbish it didn’t help the frustration. It’s not in my nature. That there was just a rush of blood to the head. It’s not me.
“If I do have a word with the manager it’s just to find out certain things about myself and see what he thinks I can do better to get in the team.
“Unless he says ‘you’re off-skis’ then I’m happy. His door is always open, I know I can go and see him any day at any time and have a word with him. He’s been like that with all the players.”
Q: Has your role as club captain changed now that you are playing less?
A: “When the gaffer needs to speak to me, he speaks to me, when the players need certain things done and want their voices to be heard, they speak to me. To say because I’m not playing regularly I’m doing different things is not right though. I’m just doing the same things that I was doing when I was playing.
“I’m a happy chappy, same old Carlos, still not driving! I’m still the same guy that everyone knew from day one.
“I always have a smile on my face. Yes, as I said before, I do want to be playing, but I’ll just have to bide my time. I know that just because I’m club captain I’m not going to be playing every game.
“Obviously I’m getting older by the day, every day I’m closer to retirement, but you just have to take it on the chin. The last thing you want to do as club captain is to come into the changing room and have a face like a smacked behind.
“Guys may not say anything to you, but they might go and whisper something to the manager, things might get said the wrong way, they might say ‘A and B’ and someone might just finish the alphabet for you.
“Saying that, I’m happy. That’s the main thing. The main thing I want is for the team and the club to succeed. If I’m part of that then I’ll be delighted.”
Q: Have you ever considered leaving?
“No – I have not!
Q: Might that change?
A: “Ha! You never know, you never know. Obviously I will have a word with him (manager Mick McCarthy) at some stage to see what his long-term plans are for me. If he wants me to stay I will chew off his hand, no problem. My family is comfortable here and I’m like a born-and-bred Suffolk guy now! It’s part of me.
“As I said before, if the opportunity comes and he wants me to extend it then I will gladly do that.”
Q: There was a bit of speculation recently that you might join Wolves on loan...
A: “Do you know what, to be fair I don’t have a clue where that came up and how it came up. I haven’t spoken to anyone about that and the manager never mentioned it to me. My brother in law in Trinidad asked me about it. I said ‘where did you see that?!’ He said he’d seen it on some website.
“The gaffer never had me in the office though or said anything.”
Q: At the age of 35, do you still feel you’ve still got another year or two in you as a player at this level?
A: “Yeah, I do feel fit enough to prolong my career. Whether that’s here or elsewhere, I don’t know. I do still feel I’ve still got something to give. I’m hoping that it could be at Ipswich.”
Q: You’re in the final year of your contract. Do you think you’ll get a new deal?
A: “I don’t know. That’s a question that I can’t even answer for myself to be honest. Maybe in the near future, as we’re getting closer to the end of the season, I will speak to him and ask him what his plans are. At this moment in time though I don’t want to go in all guns blazing to ask him ‘what’s the situation, I need to look after myself’. I’ll just have to wait and see.”
Q: You obviously want to keep on playing for a bit yet, but have you started making plans for when you do eventually hang up your boots?
A: “I’ve been putting things in place for coaching. It’s best that I do that while I’m still playing. It’s easier that way. I’m still waiting to hear back from the FA. One or two of the other players like (Luke) Chambers and (Christophe) Berra want to do their badges too.
“I want to be part of Ipswich Town’s history. Who knows, maybe I could be manager of Ipswich one day!”
Q: Genuinely, you’d like to be Ipswich manager?
A: “You can never say never, you never know what can happen. I’m obviously keeping all my options open.
“If the owner maybe wants to offer Mr Edwards the job then I’d have to bring in Jason Scotland (fellow Trinidadian and ex-Ipswich team mate) as my assistant!”
Q: There’s certainly a number of ex-Ipswich players coaching within the club’s academy at the moment, people like Kieron Dyer...
A: “Kieron was one of the guys telling me ‘get into it’ actually. Bryan (Klug, academy director) and Mark Kennedy (Under-21s manager) were all saying to me ‘start now’.
“Dwight (Yorke, ex Trinidad and Tobago player) was also saying ‘it’s a long process, so you may as well get it started’. It’s not often I take advice form Mr Dwight Yorke!”
Q: You were here during the Roy Keane and Paul Jewell managerial eras, how do you assess the current condition of the club under Mick Mccarthy?
A: “I think he’s done great, to be fair. I don’t think since I’ve been here I’d been in the top six before. In my five years in Ipswich I don’t think I’ve been much higher than 10th!
“Everyone has their different ways of coaching, but he came in and made us a solid unit that was not conceding the goals that we used to concede. Obviously we used to concede loads of goals. Yeah, we do still concede the odd goal which can be a kick in the face, but it’s much better.
“He’s done really well and, given a bit more time, things will progress even better.”
Q: Can this team finish in the top six?
A: “I’m hoping that we are there come the end of the season. That was always our aim before we even kicked the first ball of pre-season. We’ve got that little taste, that little appetiser, and now we have to go for the main course and reclaim that spot. I don’t think it will be beyond us.
Q: Have you officially retired from international duty with Trinidad and Tobago?
A: “It’s one of those things where you want to say yes and you want to say no. I know I have a lot to offer with the kids coming through, but it’s about how much you can do and whether the manager wants to bring you back for games when he might want to look at others. I’ll need to have a word with him and see what his plans are before I can say ‘take me off duty’.
“I think they are playing Argentina in a friendly just before they shoot off to Brazil. We’ll see what happens.”