McCarthy wary of one final twist in ‘bonkers’ Championship

Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy

Ipswich v Birmingham: THE odds of Ipswich Town being relegated may be mammoth, but manager Mick McCarthy is not relaxing just yet.

The Blues are six points clear of the drop zone with two games to play following last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday. Not only would they need to lose at home to Birmingham City today and at Burnley next weekend, but around 18 other results across the division would also have to go against them too.

Such has been the unpredictable and topsy-turvy nature of the Championship this season though, the Blues boss is demanding his players don’t take their foot off the gas just yet.

“It has been so bonkers this league that something even more bonkers could happen,” said McCarthy. “I don’t want to be involved in that in any shape or form. I want to make sure, as we always do, that we do the job right.

“I don’t want to be going to Burnley still needing something and worrying about other results.

“The players won’t be complacent. It’s been proven with this group that they’ve got a really good attitude. You don’t just switch that on and off.”

Town would be fifth in the table had the season started when McCarthy took over on November 1. Rock-bottom with just seven points from 13 at the time of his arrival, the return of 50 points from 31 games would put the Blues fifth in the form table over that period.

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Birmingham have enjoyed a similar revival in the second-half of the campaign, claiming 44 points from the aforementioned period. They have won five of their last eight matches, losing just once on their travels this year, with their 1-0 home win over Leeds last weekend securing safety.

McCarthy said: “It’s not been easy for Lee (Clark). He’s had all sorts of internal problems (ongoing ownership and financial issues) and it does affect the players. I’m not so sure it should, but when you’re having a tough time it’s always a good excuse.

“Lee’s had to work in difficult circumstances. When it was tough everyone was giving it out to him, so I take my hat off to him. I think he’s got them in a good position. I watched them against Leicester two or three weeks ago and they were excellent.

“He’s got them playing some good football.”

Reflecting on his side’s 1-0 win at St Andrews in his first game in charge, he said: “It was hugely important. You get one opportunity to make a good first impression. That’s what we did.

“People were saying ‘he’s done this and done that’ about me. Well it doesn’t matter what you’ve done before, you’ve got to do it all over again and capture peoples’ hearts and minds and imaginations and get them believing in what you do.

“That first win kick-started that. Believe me, if you lose the first one and suddenly lose the second one then it’s a really difficult job then to lift people.

“We got that first win though and that was hugely important.”

– See today’s EADT for a feature with academy director Bryan Klug, more from McCarthy and a full match preview. For live match updates, follow @Stuart_Watson and @ChrisBramms on Twitter.