Northstander: Mick McCarthy era has unravelled, and nothing will change until he goes
Mick McCarthy has now passed his fifth anniversary as Ipswich Town manager. Veteran Blues fan TERRY HUNT assesses the McCarthy era.
A game of two halves. That’s how I sum up Mick McCarthy’s time at Portman Road.
The first half of his reign was very successful, saving Town from dropping to the third tier and steering the team to the play-offs despite an uncompetitive budget.
But in the last couple of years it has unravelled, with disappointing results, oh-so dull football, falling attendances, and a growing rift developing between manager and supporters.
Let’s start with the positives. Town were in a mess when McCarthy arrived on November 1 2012, bottom of the Championship and seemingly destined to play third tier football for the first time since 1957.
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Mick’s no-nonsense approach was just what the doctor ordered. He steadied the ship, avoided relegation, and started building a decent team despite owner Marcus Evans keeping a tight grip on the purse strings.
In the 2014-15 season, Town exceeded all reasonable expectations. With Daryl Murphy in the goalscoring form of his life, Ipswich made the play-offs, losing to Norwich in the semi-final.
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That was the high point for McCarthy at Ipswich. I remember writing how Ipswich fans now had a team they could be proud of. The bond between manager, players and supporters was very close.
Sadly, it’s been downhill all the way since, mainly due to lack of investment, leading to questions about the club’s ambition.
At the beginning of the 2016-2017 season, Daryl Murphy was sold to Newcastle. He was never replaced, and the campaign was characterised by deadly dull football. Results were poor, too, with Town looking nervously over their shoulder at the relegation zone at various times.
The relationship between the fans and McCarthy deteriorated, with the manager’s dismissive post-match comments adding fuel to the fire of discontent. The club’s decision to increase season ticket prices certainly didn’t help, with 2,000 supporters walking away.
This season started well, but it was yet another false dawn. The team look set for another mid-table finish, and McCarthy’s extraordinary rant after the Burton game has driven another wedge between him and the loyal supporters.
The qualities which served McCarthy so well early in his time at Portman Road are now backfiring, and infuriating supporters. It’s difficult to see anything changing while he is in charge. So that means another frustrating season until, hopefully, he moves on next summer.