Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy glad he ‘looked beyond opinions’ when signing five players from relegated clubs

Ipswich Town's Supporters' Player of the Year Christophe Berra was one of five signings from relegat

Ipswich Town's Supporters' Player of the Year Christophe Berra was one of five signings from relegated clubs

Watford v Ipswich: Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy is glad he looked beyond the obvious when building his squad last summer.

A few eyebrows were raised when the Blues boss signed five players from clubs that had just been relegated out of the Championship – Christophe Berra and Stephen Hunt from Wolves, as well as Dean Gerken, Cole Skuse and Paul Anderson from Bristol City.

Yet the quintet have repaid their manager’s faith by playing their part in campaign which has exceeded expectations and could yet end in fairytale fashion.

With a low-budget but spirited tight-knit squad knowing that four victories from four would guarantee a place in the play-offs, McCarthy – whose side play at Watford today before hosting Bournemouth on Monday – said: “I had to look beyond people’s comments. Don’t think for one minute that I didn’t consider the fact that I was signing Dean Gerken, Paul Anderson and Cole Skuse from Bristol City who had just been relegated.

“Relegated teams can have good players in them. It’s just a matter of getting the best out of them and I think we are. All of them have contributed hugely.”

Town’s starting line-up in last Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Doncaster Rovers cost barely a penny in transfer fees, with Gerken, Luke Chambers, Berra, Hunt and Daryl Murphy all free transfers, Jonny Williams on loan, Tyrone Mings plucked from non-league for a nominal fee, Tommy Smith and Luke Hyam academy graduates, while Anderson arrived in a swap deal for Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.

“I take a lot of pride in my team, never mind whether we’ve bought them or got them on loan or anything,” said McCarthy. “It doesn’t matter whether we’ve spent money on them or not really.

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“You get a fair insight into the personality of players when you see them play and how they deal with things. We have eyes and ears around the game to find out about people’s character too. Some of them can be very, very surprising actually.”

With nine of his players having started more than 30 games heading into a gruelling Easter schedule, McCarthy added: “Sometimes it’s better to have a small group of physically fit specimens all playing all the time. There’s nothing worse than having too many who are just sitting up in the stand.

“There have been occasions this season where we’ve dipped below 18 (fit players) and I’ve had to bring in some of the kids to fill the bench up. There are pluses and negatives to having a small squad.

“When you’ve only got 18 they’ve all got a chance of playing though and that keeps them all happy.”

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