‘In Mick we trust’ – the slogan that just gained some timely credence
- Credit: PA
In Mick we trust.
That’s the slogan which many level-headed Ipswich Town fans have used during any minor wobbles over the last three years and, on Tuesday night, such sentiment was given timely credence.
Last Saturday, a much-changed line-up flopped in the FA Cup and were fortunate to escape with a 2-2 home draw against League Two side Portsmouth. Three days later that was soon forgotten as refreshed first-team regulars produced arguably their best display of the season and scored a last-gasp winner to beat Leeds United 2-1 at Portman Road.
Characterised as a dour, pragmatic Yorkshireman who is a great man-manager but an average, old-fashioned tactician, it doesn’t take much for the McCarthy critics to pipe up. Thankfully, the experienced boss doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.
Stubborn and belligerent? Perhaps. A better description would be that he is a man who has absolute conviction in everything he does.
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After fourth-tier opposition dominated possession in Suffolk last weekend, much was made of Town’s style of play. McCarthy cares not for possession or passing stats though. All he cares about is winning.
The ‘tactical dinosaur’ stereotype is unfair too. Town are playing the in-vogue 4-2-3-1 formation at present. Two out of Cole Skuse, Jonathan Douglas and Luke Hyam sit and protect the back four, the direct and pacey Ryan Fraser and Freddie Sears are on the wings and Kevin Bru – possibly David McGoldrick or Teddy Bishop in the long-run – operate in the No.10 role behind either Daryl Murphy or Brett Pitman. How very continental.
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On Tuesday night the Blues zipped the ball around with some crisp one-touch passing in tight areas. When the situation calls for it, they are capable of mixing up their approach. And when they need to go direct, they go direct.
Larger-than-life Leeds boss Steve Evans threw his toys out of the pram big time after the game and said he couldn’t believe that was the benchmark for sixth place. Actually Steve, I think you’ll find Town are fifth now.
Contrast those classless comments to McCarthy’s respectful reaction to his team’s draw with Portsmouth.
He always credits the opposition when credit’s due. He never blames the referee. He has far more allies than enemies in the game as a result.
The Championship is one of the most competitive leagues in the world and dozens of the clubs which compete in it would take McCarthy in a heartbeat.