McCarthy hoping to add another chapter to his Hillsborough love affair
Hillsborough has been a very happy hunting ground for Mick McCarthy – and he believes there is a good chance that record could be extended tonight if Ipswich Town replicate their recent away-day displays.
The Blues boss has never tasted defeat at the iconic home of Sheffield Wednesday in his 26 years in management. And he’s only lost home games to the Owls twice – once at Millwall in the mid-90s and then last April at Portman Road.
Mid-table Town head to South Yorkshire unbeaten in their last four games on the road – draws at Bolton and Norwich followed by wins at Sunderland and Preston.
Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, have lost four games on the spin – the latest of which was a 4-0 drubbing at Bristol City on Saturday, just a week on from a 4-2 home defeat to Aston Villa.
“I was hoping no-one would bring that up,” laughed McCarthy, when reminded of his record against Sheffield Wednesday. “I’ve joked before that I have a better record at Hillsborough than at Portman Road!”
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With Town having had their home game against Hull postponed on Saturday due to the snow, McCarthy said: “It was a frustration because I thought we played really well at Preston and had a good week of performances.
“We’d like to continue playing how we did against Preston because, if we do, we have a good chance of winning at Hillsborough.
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“We trained at Portman Road on Saturday and the pitch was fine. We had a really good session so that’s given them some leg work and opened the lungs. It is what it is and it hasn’t thrown any spanners in the works I don’t think. I certainly won’t be saying that it has after the game if the result’s not right because it really hasn’t.”
Sheffield Wednesday have been outside of the top-flight for one season longer than Ipswich (17 years includes three seasons in League One). Following successive play-off finishes, they currently find themselves in 17th spot.
“Getting in the play-offs and losing can have a real devastating impact on teams and I thought they did brilliantly to recover the first time and get there again,” said McCarthy. “I don’t know if people lose faith in it and then stop believing in what they’re doing and look for a change?
“We can see the change that has happened there. Sheffield Wednesday are where they are (under new boss Jos Luhukay) and Carlos Carvalhal (sacked on Christmas Eve) is nearly halfway up the Premier League (at Swansea).”
He added: “I am surprised where they are, especially when you look at the strikers they’ve got. They have a pretty big budget and have spent heavily so yes, I expected them to be better than they are.
“Like anything it depends if the owners decide they want to start recouping some money and stop investing. I don’t know. I have no idea what they’re thinking and what they’re planning to do.
“They have (Atdhe) Nuhiu, who scored against us, they have Lucas Joao, they have (Fernando) Forestieri, they have (Jordan) Rhodes and (Gary) Hooper and they just looked a real threat. I thought they would have won the play-offs actually and I thought they were a good side.
“I wonder how much impact losing twice in the play-offs has on people. It looks like it’s been a bad one.”