MICK’S THE MAN: After five decades in football, Mick McCarthy has seen everything in the game
“At the moment we’ve got 16 first team players. My initials stand for Mick McCarthy, not Merlin the Magician.”
Ipswich Town are going to need all of McCarthy’s magic as they look to end a winless run of 12 matches and start moving away from the Championship’s drop-zone under their new man’s regime.
But in the 53-year-old, the Blues have picked a man who has experienced all of football’s high and lows over five decades.
He won three promotions in his first eight years as a professional, with Barnsley and Manchester City, before celebrating a league and cup double north of the border after signing for Celtic in 1987.
A spell in France with Lyon followed before McCarthy, fearing for his international future, returned to these shores with Millwall.
As injuries hampered his last few playing years, McCarthy, who was capped 57 times for the Republic of Ireland and played in the 1988 European Championships and 1990 World Cup, took over as manager of the Lions in 1992.
After four years in the dugout, including one failed play-off attempt, the lure of managing the Republic of Ireland proved too strong and McCarthy took over from Jack Charlton.
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It would be the off-the-pitch problems in his one and only major tournament, the 2002 World Cup, that would catch the eye more than any success on the pitch.
A public spat with Roy Keane – who would ironically go on to replace him at Sunderland and then later manage Ipswich – marred the tournament with the then-Manchester United player flying home on the eve of the tournament.
In November 2002, he resigned from the post having lost just 20 times in his 68-game spell.
Within four months, he had returned to management with Sunderland – but was unable to save them from almost inevitable relegation from the Premier League at the end of the season.
Within 12 months, he had guided the Black Cats to the play-off final and another year later, promotion was finally achieved when Sunderland won the 2004/05 Championship.
But on a limited budget, McCarthy’s side struggled in the top-flight and by March, he was replaced by Keane.
In keeping with his career, it was not long before the Irishman was back in football.
In July 2006, he was appointed manager of Championship side Wolves, where he promised Premier League football within three seasons.
His target was achieved, but not before he lost for the third time in the play-offs and then finished seventh, before finally winning the Championship title for a second time.
He kept Wolves in the Premier League for three seasons, finishing a credible 15th and then surviving relegation on the final day. But the 2011/12 season was to prove his last at Molineux after he was sacked in February with the club sliding towards the Championship.
At the time, he was the seventh longest-serving boss in the country and his long spells with Sunderland and Wolves shows that he commits to things.
That will be music to the ears of the long-serving Ipswich Town fans.