McCarthy: Ipswich Town fans don’t live in the past, unlike like other clubs’ supporters
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy has praised the club’s realistic supporters before adding “a top-half finish would be progress”.
The Blues may have won have won a top-flight title, FA Cup and UEFA Cup during the 60s, 70s and 80s, but they are now the Championship’s current longest-serving club, this their 12th consecutive campaign in English football’s second tier.
And following four successive bottom-half finishes of 15th, 13th, 15th and 14th, the Suffolk club have seen owner Marcus Evans tighten the purse strings ahead of new Financial Fair Play Rules while others benefit from vastly increased parachute payments.
“This division is full of clubs with delusions of grandeur – ones who all think they should be in the Premier League,” said McCarthy.
“I think that a desire and want to be there is a far different thing to thinking you should be there though.
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“I get the sense here that the fans want us to be a success, they want us to be in the Premier League, but I don’t get that nonsense where people are constantly talking about Bobby Robson’s teams or ex players and all that. We know they were great players, but they’re too old to play now!
“I’ve had it at other clubs – Sunderland, Wolves – where they is a sense that it’s a divine right to be in the top league just because they’re a ‘big club’.
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“We’re a big club – we were the fourth best supported team on the weekend we hosted Brighton – but there is no divine right for us to be contesting promotion.”
Having transformed Ipswich from a bottom-of-the-table side to one that finished last season in promotion form, McCarthy did little to play down talk of a play-off push in the summer.
Heading into this weekend’s international break, the Blues are 11th in the table – five points adrift of the top six – following four wins, three draws and four defeats from their opening 11 league fixtures.
“I’d have took this start if offered it,” said McCarthy, who won the Championship title with both Sunderland and Wolves.
“We’re all talking about aiming for the top six – that’s utopia.
“What is a surprise is seeing Burnley (the team Town host a week on Saturday) and Blackpool (who Town travel to on November 9) up there, but we’ll see where we all end up.
“The reality is, from where we were in November last year, if we finish eighth, 10th in the league and never really worry about relegation, then that would be progress.
“We are wanting better than that though. Who knows, if we can stop shipping some of these goals and keep scoring the ones we’re getting, then it might be possible.”
Town host surprise table-toppers Burnley a week on Saturday before travelling to surprise strugglers Bolton the following weekend.
McCarthy is closing in on 46 league games in charge of the Blues, with his record during that time still very much that of a top six side.
From 44 league games he has masterminded 19 wins, 11 draws and 14 defeats – that’s 68 points from a possible 132. To put that in context, Leicester finished sixth in the Championship with that tally last season, fifth-place Palace finishing four points higher.