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'There's been no difference at all… except there has' - McCarthy on 'surreal' Birmingham game

PUBLISHED: 18:56 31 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:56 31 March 2018

Mick McCarthy has his game-face on at St. Andrews for the match against Birmingham City Picture Pagepix

Mick McCarthy has his game-face on at St. Andrews for the match against Birmingham City Picture Pagepix

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Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admitted it was a 'surreal feeling' being in charge for today's 1-0 defeat at Birmingham City just two days after it had been announced he would leaving the club this summer.

Ipswich Manager Mick McCarthy pointing the way at St. Andrews Picture PagepixIpswich Manager Mick McCarthy pointing the way at St. Andrews Picture Pagepix

Jota’s 21st minute penalty proved the difference in a game short on quality as the Blues went a fourth straight game without scoring.

Asked how he was feeling, McCarthy – who now has seven games left in charge before his contract expires – said: “It was just surreal really. It’s a strange feeling. We’ve done everything as we would normally do. Me and TC (Terry Connor) were jumping up and down like a couple of mad men, screaming, shouting, encouraging, cajoling, b******ing, organising.

“There’s been no difference at all… Except there has… It was just a feeling.

“All the chat is about me, but I think people forget TC who has done a great job here and he’s out of work come the end of May. I think that’s probably a little bit unfair with the coaching he does. So that’s sad.

Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy at St. Andrews Picture PagepixIpswich manager Mick McCarthy at St. Andrews Picture Pagepix

“I just said to him ‘how are you feeling?’ and he just said ‘I don’t know’.

“All these 26 years in management and I’m experiencing something new.”

He continued: “I want to be as bothered as I always am. And I wanted to win that game. If you watched me and TC on that sideline then you’d have seen that.

“But there is something that has gone; certainly, for sure. I wish I could articulate it better, but I am a football player, coach, manager – not a poet.”

Mick McCarthy walks along the touchline at St. Andrews under the watchful eye of the cameras Picture PagepixMick McCarthy walks along the touchline at St. Andrews under the watchful eye of the cameras Picture Pagepix

Quizzed on the timing of his departure announcement this week, McCarthy explained: “A note went out before the season ticket sales and that’s not right. I needed to know for my own sanity and my own good what was going to happen. Anyway, I’ve discussed how it happened and why it happened – that’s old hat.

“We’re not going up, we’re not going down. Maybe it should have been done in the international break and somebody else could have come in and done the last eight games. Maybe that would have inspired everybody a bit more.”

MORE: Birmingham City 1-0 Ipswich Town: Blues lack attacking threat as they go down at relegation-battlers

Subsequently quizzed if he considered stepping down immediately rather than seeing out the last eight games in charge, he replied: “When I spoke to Marcus (Evans) it was never in doubt that I’d do them. It is an unusual situation. I’ve never experienced it as a player or manager so I don’t know what to expect.

Ipswich Manager Mick McCarthy at St. Andrews Picture PagepixIpswich Manager Mick McCarthy at St. Andrews Picture Pagepix

“When I’m barking at the lads and in their faces saying ‘don’t be a baby, play properly, put your foot in…’ I don’t know how they are feeling. They might go ‘p*** off gaffer, do me a favour, you’re not going to be here next year’.

“I’ve told them if they do that I’ll be rolling around on the turf with you! I am still the manager and they are still respecting everything I’ve said and I’m still respecting them - immensely.

“I do believe myself and TC are good workers and good professionals and it’s important we keep doing things the right way until they get another manager in.

“During the game I’m not thinking ‘what am I going to be doing?’ There’s none of that. All the focus is on the competitive edge of the game. You must have seen that today. Second half the lads kept pushing.

“The players and I have got huge respect for each other. If you watched the game today then they’ve answered that question out there on the pitch.

“Ask them. They are disappointed. They are a little bit shell-shocked. There are players looking for contracts, players on loan and players wondering what’s going to happen for them next season and if a new man won’t fancy them.

“That does put a real element of doubt in their heads. There has been one constant over the last five or six years and that’s been me and TC. We’ve done the same things and they know what to expect. It’s the unknown for them now.”

MORE: Ratings: How the Blues players rated in first game since McCarthy exit announcement

He added: “Not quite feeling the same doesn’t quite equate to not doing the job properly. Sometimes you might not feel great with flu, but you still do the job properly.

“It’s just an odd feeling today. I’ve never had it. But you’ve all watched that game and the lads have played well. Me and TC have been exactly the same and that’s how it will continue to be.

“I’m still under contract. And of course there was that slight little notion that if we won all eight games and had got in the play-offs I’d have had another year to go – that would have p***ed everybody off wouldn’t it! Can you imagine that?! I come out next season and go ‘surprise!’ Everybody would have gone ‘oh no!’”

On a typically fine margins affair, he reflected: “I thought we’d just started to get into the game. It was a good piece of play when we got the cross in. To be fair the keeper catches it and throws it out, but we should have confronted him (Jacques Maghoma) in their half and fouled him in their half and not let him get into our penalty area.

“I haven’t seen it. Somebody has just asked if I thought it was a penalty. I have no idea. Cameron (Carter-Vickers) says he barely touched him, but he should have barely touched him just over the halfway line and then there would be no argument would there? If you allow him to get in the box then you are in danger of giving a penalty away.”

He added: “We’ve had a good season but are just tailing off a bit and find ourselves in the middle of the table. It looks to me that it’s starting to pan out in terms of budgets.

“Wolves have probably spent the most, Burton have probably spent the least. I looked at us… We are middle of the table for goals against, goals for – loads of things - and I just thought ‘that’s probably where we are’. If we finish up any higher than that then we’ll have done very well.”

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