The more people shout about team selection, the more stubborn I will be – Mick McCarthy
- Credit: Ashley Pickering
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy hailed the positive performance of homegrown midfielder Luke Hyam after his side kick-started their Championship campaign with an impressive 2-1 home win over newly-relegated Fulham.
Having finished ninth in the table last season, it was clear that the Blues midfield would need to provide more goals and creativity if they were going to close the gap on the play-off places this time around.
A midfield selection of hard-working quartet of Elliott Hewitt, Cole Skuse, Hyam and Jay Tabb did little to whet the appetite of fans pre-kick-off, flying winger Alex Henshall left on the bench, but the decision was totally justified as low-budget Town secured a fully-deserved victory over their big-spending visitors.
Ipswich-born Hyam has always provided aggression and tenacity for the side, but his sideways passing and tendency to turn backwards has been jeered by the crowd in the past. On Saturday he looked a player transformed though, always on the front foot and having a hand in both goals – scored by Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick.
In the end he left the field with cramp to a standing ovation and chants of ‘he’s one of our own’.
“I’ve been on at him to do more of that,” said McCarthy. “I tell him, turn and play forward if you can. Like them all he’s working at it. He wants to improve.
“He just got cramp in the end because he’d run out of juice – and he’s the fittest lad I know. He was a big part of the first goal because he broke it up and we hadn’t been doing that really. Luke took it upon himself to go and nail somebody and win the ball. We’re on the front foot and we score from it.”
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On his decision to select a workmanlike midfield line-up, the Blues boss said: “You know I don’t give a flying what anybody wants to see in the team, don’t you? The more people shout, the less chance they’ve got of going on. They should have recognised that by now.
“We were playing a team today that were playing a diamond, so it actually suited us not to have Hunty (Stephen Hunt), Alex (Henshall), Ando (Paul Anderson) and Cameron Stewart because of the way they played.
“I’d have had a difficult decision to make had they been fit (Hunt, Anderson and Stewart all injured), but I’d have probably made the same decision anyway because they tried to play through the middle of us. We didn’t need wingers on the pitch today.”