‘Tuck your shirt in!’ – Mick McCarthy commands manners and standards from his players

Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy

DISCIPLINE off the pitch breeds discipline on it.

Those who attended a fairly meaningless reserve team game on a cold Monday night last week will have enjoyed a fascinating insight into the fine details which Mick McCarthy has used to spectacularly turn around Ipswich Town’s season.

With reserve team boss Mark Kennedy in charge, most managers – keeping an eye on their fringe players and emerging youth – would have taken a watching brief from the comfort of the directors’ box.

Instead, sitting just three rows back from the Portman Road dug-outs, McCarthy’s bellowing Yorkshire voice echoed around the largely empty stands.

‘Corry, tuck you shirt in,’ he shouted at young midfielder Galvin as he came on as a sub against Charlton.

The shocked teenager responded, but – perhaps with fashion in mind – pulled it out again when he reached the other touchline. If he thought he’d got away with it he quickly learnt a valuable lesson.

The same call went out, only this time louder and firmer. A joke was eventually shared, but a point had been made.

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Asked about the incident, McCarthy said: “They’re just standards really.

“I hate it when they all have their shirts out. Tuck it in – when you start looking like a player I might let you take it out.

“I tell people to tuck their shirts in, pulls their socks up, take your earrings out, take your cap off, take your earphones off, look me in the eye when I’m speaking to you.

“It’s just manners I think; presentation of yourself, your public persona. We should be an example to people. You can only be a good example if you’re a good example to yourself.”

He continued: “We make sure the pitch is tidy, whether it’s getting the bottles of water off it, moving the nets or getting all the kit in.

“Let me tell you, players notice that. The first time you turn up and say ‘hold on a minute, where are you going? Help the staff get the kit in before you go’ is a little bit of a surprise to some. But why wouldn’t they? They shouldn’t be waited on hand over foot everywhere.

“I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just something I do.”

He may play down the significance of such actions, but it can be no coincidence that a team that was so sloppy and lacking in concentration before his arrival has suddenly been transformed into one of the most disciplined, organised and hard-to-beat outfits in the division.

As the saying goes, it’s the little things that make the difference.

– See today’s Ipswich Star and tomorrow’s EADT for Sheffield Wednesday v Ipswich Town preview.

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