‘I’d rather beat Bristol City than Manchester United’ – Mick McCarthy in typically pragmatic form ahead of Old Trafford trip
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Ipswich Town face Manchester United, at Old Trafford, in the third round of the Capital One Cup tomorrow night. Blues boss Mick McCarthy is more bothered about winning Saturday’s game against Bristol City though...
Q: This draw was made almost a month ago. Are you glad the game has finally arrived?
A: “I’ve not been preoccupied by it at all. The league games are far more important to me. This is the most important game for us now, because it’s the next one. I never look too far in front of myself though.
“We mentioned it on the long drive back from Doncaster, but we haven’t given it a second thought since. I certainly haven’t.”
Q: You’ve been playing the kids in this competition. Are you likely to name a more senior team at Old Trafford?
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A: “As usual, at quarter to seven tomorrow you’ll all see what the team is.
“The last time we played in a cup tie when we travelled to the north east we lost against Preston after extra-time and ended up getting back at three in the morning.
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“We then played Millwall on the Saturday and got absolutely slapped. It was only 1-0, but it was a 1-0 slapping.
“I’m conscious of that. We’ve had lots of games and the last thing I need is for everybody playing and we can’t then get going on Saturday (at home against Bristol City).
“We’re not just going up there to let them have the ball and keep coming at us though, we want to get at them.”
Q: If I gave you the option of winning just one game, either at Manchester United on Wednesday or on Saturday against...
A: “That was fairly categoric that wasn’t it? I didn’t give it any thought at all.
“If we won (against Manchester United) everyone would be getting excited and clamouring around us, but then if we got beat on Saturday then we’re all back to square one.
“We want to win this game, but it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll win this cup.
“We’ll try and win this, but the league game on Saturday is more important. I’m not under any illusion as to what we want to do this season.”
Q: Not many players in your squad will have experienced playing on a stage like Old Trafford. What’s your message to those that don’t get picked?
A: “Get promoted.
“You might remember an incident a few years ago when I changed one or two players going to Old Trafford as Wolves manager *laughs* – it was eleven. Actually it was 10 because one was injured and forced upon me!
“We were fined for that, which was nonsense, because I still believe firmly, avidly, that my job as a manager is to get points for my team.
“And if I’m playing Tottenham away, Man United away and Burnley at home, and I get six points out of those games, then I’ve managed my club particularly well.
“That’s what I did.
“I told all my players what I was going to do and a few of them were going ‘oh, I want to play at Old Trafford’ and I said ‘well f****** keep us up and play there next year because let me tell you they won’t get relegated’.
“That’s the same for me on Wednesday night. Those that don’t play will be told ‘get promoted, then you can play against them twice next season in the league’.”
Q: You’ve been there and done it as a player and manager. Do these sort of games still excite you?
A: “Yes, they do. I’m looking forward to going to Old Trafford. It’s a special place to go and play. It’s one of the best clubs in the world and the stadium is amazing.
“It will give me a sharp reminder of what I’d like to be doing and that’s managing in the Premier League with Ipswich. I think it will incentivise my players too.”
Q: It sounds a silly thing to ask, given they are second in the table, but have Manchester United lost a little bit of that fear factor they had under Sir Alex Ferguson?
A: “I’ll tell you on Thursday morning!
“Listen, when managers get jobs there is always a transition period, but that seemed to go for a long time with Moysey, who is my mate, and then Louis van Gaal.
“They do seem to be getting back in the grove again now though having watched them yesterday against Southampton. They just seem to be gelling now, whereas before it all seemed a bit fragmented. They’re getting it together.
“They’ll want to win a trophy and of course the Capital One Cup is probably seen as one they probably could win. They’ll not want to lose to a Championship side. They’ve got a nice home tie against Ipswich which they’ll want to win. This is a tough game for us.
“The coach goes right into the ground, you see the size of it, all the players know the history of it, then they’ll go out and have a warm-up. It either inspires you or frightens you I guess. I hope it inspires our guys.
“We want to try and win the game. We’ll have to be well-organised and disciplined. We might be without the ball for a long time, so we’ll try and not get picked off and stop them playing through us.
“But that is the same every week. We’re just playing against better players on their home patch.”