MANAGER’S REACTION: Mick McCarthy proud of his Ipswich Town players after 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday secures ninth-place finish
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Ipswich v Sheff Weds: Blues boss Mick McCarthy spoke of his pride after his players produced another spirited display to end a season of solid progress on a high, beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Portman Road to secure a ninth-place finish in the Championship table.
Tommy Smith and Paul Green scored either side of Keiran Lee’s equaliser. Ninth-place with 68 points represents Ipswich’s best finish in six seasons and their second best in the last nine, with solid foundations in place heading into a 13th successive campaign at second tier level.
“It was an open game,” said McCarthy. “Both teams have got nothing on it apart from three points and a bit of pride. I imagine Sheffield Wednesday fans went away and thought their team put up a good show, but we went away with the points. That’s what matters in the end, but they played well.”
He continued: “It’s progress, but I don’t really do ‘it’s enough’, ‘it’s ordinary’, ‘it’s fine’, ‘it’s acceptable’ though. I do prefer better than that and I expect better than that.
“What I will say though is that I’m immensely proud of the lads this season, they’ve been great.
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“If you consider that we’ve not spent a coin on anybody really, even though Marcus (Evans) has to put five/six million in to keep us going, I think our lads have done brilliant. I’m really pleased and proud of them.
“There are teams who have finished below us, Nottingham Forest, Bolton, Huddersfield, that have seemed to have done things differently. I’m really proud of them.”
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McCarthy didn’t experiment with his personnel for this dead rubber, leaving youngsters Jack Marriott and Alex Henshall on the bench, but did experiment with his formation – deploying a wing-back system for the first time in his 18-month tenure.
The system was abandoned midway through the first half though following a poor start by the hosts.
“I said to the lads on Thursday, let’s just have a look and try it (wing-backs),” said McCarthy. “I’ll never know whether it would have worked because we started off and not one of our players could pass to somebody in a blue shirt. We were hopeless.
“It wasn’t down to a system, it was down to the fact they couldn’t pass a ball 20 yards to a team mate.
“I just thought that at least if we’re not playing well off that solid 4-4-1-1 formation we’re not likely to give something away, so that’s why I went back to it. I tinkered with it.”
Town fans chanted for teen striker Marriott to come on in the second half, but Stephen Hunt and Paul Taylor were introduced – both playing a part in the winning goal – with Marriott finally coming on in the 86th minute.
“I could have done something different with the subs, but I wanted to win the game,” said McCarthy. “You could see the size of them and I was worried if we put him (Marriott) on too early we could have been done from a free-kick. As much as I’d liked him on... Maybe I could have done something different. Anyway, he got on.
“I think you know I don’t get swayed by popular opinion. Not at all.”
– See Monday’s EADT and Ipswich Star for match comment, player ratings and more reaction.