‘He’ll never lose the dressing room’ – Richie Wellens reveals how Mick McCarthy quickly got the Ipswich Town players behind him four years ago
Richie Wellens recalls how quickly Mick McCarthy got the full support of the Ipswich Town players and believes that the under-pressure boss will still have that same respect inside the dressing room.
Tomorrow marks the fourth anniversary of McCarthy’s first game in charge of the Blues – a vital 1-0 victory at Birmingham City which kick-started a successful relegation battle following Paul Jewell’s sacking.
Midfielder Wellens, borrowed from Leicester at the time, started that match having previously blasted the club’s players for not ‘caring enough’ following a 3-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
“I remember that,” says the Mancunian, who most recently played for Salford City. “Maybe that was wrong of me to say, maybe I was too quick to judge players whose confidence was low, but that’s how I felt at the time. We were on this long losing run and I couldn’t understand why no-one was being vocal or taking charge in the dressing room after games.”
Giving an insight into how McCarthy quickly changed the mood, he continued: “I remember him taking the mickey out of himself and lightening the mood. He said something along the lines of ‘I know you’re all looking at me with my big nose’.
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“He was just so self-assured and honest. He said ‘Paul Jewell is my mate and you’ve let him down’. He made it clear what he wanted and that if he didn’t get it we’d be out of the team and then out of the club.
“We all warmed to him straight away. Everyone felt they could go and talk to him and say what they thought, but they also felt his intensity when it came to training and match days too. I only worked with him for two weeks, but he left a lasting impact on me. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t stay at Ipswich and get to work with him longer.”
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With a section of Blues fans having turned on McCarthy following a poor start to the season, Wellens added: “Mick McCarthy is a manager that will never lose the dressing room. And it’s clear to me he still has that hunger to take Ipswich forwards.
“A few wins can quickly change the mood at a Championship club. I don’t see anyone else better for the job.”