Comment: Mick McCarthy has become a ‘Marmite’ figure with the Ipswich Town fans
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
It’s fair to say that, just recently, Mick McCarthy has become a bit of a “Marmite’’ figure for the fans.
What were seen as admirable qualities when he arrived in November 2012 – his no-nonsense, down to earth, very pragmatic approach – are now being viewed by many supporters as stubbornness, which they feel is having a negative impact.
There are Town fans who say he has taken the club as far as he can, and he should go. Others point to the way he rescued the team from what seemed near certain relegation to League One, and has stabilised things. But can he take the team to the Premier League?
Well, not with the current spending policy. Last season, the team over-achieved, with its fighting qualities and togetherness – coupled with Daryl Murphy’s goals – achieving an unlikely sixth spot.
This season hasn’t gone so well. After huge expectations at the beginning, it’s all rather unravelled.
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Yes, there has been bad luck with injuries. Arguably the three most creative players in the squad – Ryan Fraser, David McGoldrick, and Teddy Bishop – have all been missing for long spells because of injury. Bishop has only played 10 minutes of first team football.
But it’s not just been that. McCarthy seems to have become more cautious than ever.
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Some of his tactical decisions and team selections have left supporters frustrated. His insistence on playing two “holding’’ midfielders, even at home.
His concern about nullifying the opposition – even if they’re in the bottom three – rather than us taking the initiative. His loyalty to some players when clearly they are struggling.
The failure to sort out the right-back issue.
But it’s easy being a football manager sitting in the stands, isn’t it? The real issue is the money. For whatever reason, McCarthy has been left feeding off scraps. For a time, he did really well, building what looked like a siege mentality within his squad. But that can only work for so long.
We don’t know what McCarthy’s view is of the owner’s spending policy. We don’t see how the professional relationship between Evans and McCarthy works. Does the manager accept the situation, or is he frustrated by it? We don’t know, and, understandably, McCarthy is never going to tell us publicly.
Ipswich Town owes a great deal to Mick McCarthy. When he arrived, the team was in a mess, and seemed to be destined to drop to the third tier for the first time since 1957. He rescued us from that, and steadied the ship. After that, there was steady progress, culminating in the play-offs last year.
But this season we’ve gone backwards. Town fans are a patient bunch. They’re realistic, and don’t expect miracles. But they do want progress, and they expect to be entertained. Far too often this season, that entertainment has been lacking. So, patience is wearing thin.
So, should McCarthy stay? The answer is full of “ifs and buts.’’ Yes, if he’s given money to spend.
Yes, if he’s prepared to be less cautious. But no if he won’t change his approach. And no if he’s not able or willing to produce more entertaining football for the fed-up fans.
One thing’s for certain – Evans won’t push him out of the door.
If McCarthy does leave, it will be very much his decision – and he’s not known for walking away.