Joe Royle has empathy with Mick McCarthy and his financial restrictions at Ipswich Town
Former Ipswich Town manager Joe Royle has a great deal of empathy with Mick McCarthy and draws a lot of parallels between the club’s current situation and the time when he was in charge.
Royle took over the Blues following their relegation in 2002 and operated under severe financial restrictions due to the club going into administration, but he was still able to piece together teams that made the play-offs two seasons in a row.
The Liverpudlian – who left the club after a 15th place finish in 2006 – is still adamant that he would have achieved promotion with just a little bit more latitude in the transfer market.
Fast-forward a decade and it’s a similar picture. McCarthy has worked minor miracles on a shoestring budget, masterminded a top-six finish last season, but the fear among a large section of supporters is that, with the team out of form and in eighth, a glass ceiling has been hit.
“I can empathise with Mick because in my last season at the club I was playing players simply because they were available, not because they were good enough,” said Royle. “Before that we’d got to the play-offs twice with a team of cheapies and kids.
“One or two board members ended up taking exception to one interview I did with your paper in which I said I didn’t think the club had gone for it enough. It wasn’t meant to be a political statement, I got on great with (chairman) David Sheepshanks and the board and I fully understood the reasons why the financial situation was what it was, but I just felt at the time that we should have made a bigger effort to take a free transfer or two.
“For God’s sake, we were heading into the play-offs and had a decent shot at getting the jackpot of the Premier League.”
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Does Royle think McCarthy may harbour similar frustrations following three years of restricted spending?
“Mick is realistic and pragmatic, he knew the situation when he took the job and when he signed his new contract recently. He knew there would be frustrations along the way.
“I don’t know the full financial picture at Ipswich, but what is clear is that in between my time and Mick’s time the club spent quite heavily for this division and the owner (Marcus Evans) didn’t get the rewards he expected. Now he seems to want to be making the club work for itself financially.
“I know that’s not what the fans want to hear, but that’s the situation. It is what it is.”
Royle added: “It’s a paradox being a manager. Your job is to raise expectations, Mick has certainly done that, and now that is bouncing back on him. You can become a victim of your own success, but that’s the job.
“I had it at Everton. We went from bottom to winning the FA Cup, Charity Shield and sixth in the space of 18 months, then we had a whole spate of injuries and people couldn’t handle it.
“Fans are entitled to their opinions, of course they are, but I’m of the opinion that you should support your team through the good and bad times. And, come on, these are hardly bad times for Ipswich.
“Mick and Terry Connor are top operators and they know what they are doing.”