‘If I was free, I’d go back in a heartbeat’ – McCarthy on Sunderland vacancy

Mick McCarthy, pictured after taking charge of Sunderland in March 2003. Photo: PA

Mick McCarthy, pictured after taking charge of Sunderland in March 2003. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says he’d return to former club Sunderland ‘in a heartbeat’ if he was free and available.

This Wednesday marked the Yorkshireman’s fifth anniversary in charge at Portman Road, but he has seen his once high popularity levels among fans drop during 18 months of stagnation.

• ‘Be careful what you wish for’ – Mick’s message to Town critics

McCarthy is out of contract next May and has recently said there is no guarantee that he would sign a new deal if offered one by owner Marcus Evans. He added he does not want to simply be ‘ordinary’ with the Blues.

Sunderland are now without a manager after they sacked summer appointment Simon Grayson this week. Having just come down from the Premier League, the Black Cats are in the Championship relegation zone and without a league win at The Stadium of Light this entire calendar year.

“I’m contracted here,” said McCarthy, when asked if a return to the club he guided to the Championship title in 2004/05 might interest him.

“Maybe if I was out of contract... Oh yeah, if I was out of contract, and I was free and available, then yes I’d go back in a heartbeat because I loved my time there.

“But I’m not out of contract, I’m not free and available, so no I wouldn’t be going back.”

• ‘Good!’ – what McCarthy said when he was linked to the Aston Villa job in October 2016

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Town thrashed Sunderland 5-2 at Portman Road at the end of September. The Wearside club might just be looking to fill their current vacancy with an experienced firefighter who can operate on a budget and McCarthy, who rescued Town from a similar mess in 2012, certainly fits that bill.

Former Rangers boss Ally McCoist is the current bookies’ favourite, with Peter Reid having thrown his hat in the ring.

• What McCarthy said when he refused to rule himself out of the running for the Republic of Ireland job in October 2013

Asked if his former employers might come calling, McCarthy wryly replied: “That would please a few people (Ipswich fans) if they did wouldn’t it?”

He continued: “(It’s unlikely) with all the managers that are out of work. It’s not in my interest anyway. My interest is to get a result against Preston (at Portman Road tomorrow), to preserve my record here and what I’ve done and for us to start moving back up the league.

“I’m not looking for any other jobs. I’m not interested in that. But when I’m free and available, yes, I will be looking for another job and Sunderland would interest me, of course it would.”

• Comment: Was the swearing really necessary Mick? Caustic comments burned bridges