McCarthy dismisses ‘keyboard warriors’ who criticise his tactics
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town will look to halt a poor run of form at Championship strugglers Burton Albion this afternoon (3pm ko). STUART WATSON previews the action.
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy has dismissed any ‘keyboard warriors’ who might have criticised his chopping and changing of formation this season.
Having been a 4-4-2 man for the majority of his 25-year managerial career – including when Town made the play-offs in 2014/15 – he has tinkered with his systems of late, using 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 in the last three games alone.
Asked if he would like to stick to a system, the Blues boss – whose team today take on a Burton Albion side that usually operates with wing-backs – replied: “I would love to if I had everybody fit, yes. I haven’t got a 4-4-2 team at the minute though.
“Is that still my default formation? I think the league’s changed. The way teams play has changed. There’s more teams playing 4-3-3 or one up and one in behind. I think it requires different things now.
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“If we’ve lost the last three you can look at it and say maybe it’s because I’m changing the system, which I’m sure all the keyboard warriors are.
“But I’ve done it in the past and I’ve won games doing it. I changed to 3-5-2 when we went to Villa (back in February) and we won the game. Nobody even mentioned that.
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“Having lost to 6-1 to Charlton (in the final pre-season friendly) with a back four, we tip up and play three at the back against Birmingham (on the opening day of this season) and win. Nobody says anything then either.”
He continued: “We’re not playing well enough at one particular way that we could do it every week.
“I think we’ve been better as a back four, to be quite honest, but I go back to last season – playing a back three or a back five in the month that we started at Aston Villa, that probably kept us in the league.”
Burton beat the odds to stay up in their first-ever season at second-tier level. Key departures and a lengthy injury list means they face an even bigger uphill challenge this time around.
Since beating Fulham 2-1 at home on September 16, Nigel Clough’s men have failed to score during a five-game winless league run, slipping to 22nd in the table.
“They’re not mugs by any stretch of the imagination,” said McCarthy. “I know you might think some of them are journeymen but they are Championship players of Championship quality and we’ll have to play really well to beat them.
“There’s pressure on both of us. They’ll be looking at our results and saying ‘they’re having a tough time’ too. I’d imagine they’ll want to be on the front foot, attacking us and making it a really difficult afternoon for us.”
Team name: Burton Albion
Manager: Nigel Clough (Dec ‘15: P91 W30, D25, L36)
Ground: Pirelli Stadium
Position last season: 20th in Championship
Current position: 22nd
Last game: L 2-0 Nottm Forest (a)
Top-scorers: Akins and Dyer (2)
League ever-presents: Bywater, Buxton, Akins (13)
Burton Albion 1 Ipswich Town 2
Date: Friday, April 14, 2017
Town endured a nervy finish, but were deserved winners on Good Friday. Ex-Blues striker Luke Varney scored an unfortunate own goal seven minutes after coming on at the break, with Freddie Sears doubling the lead (79) before Lucas Aitkens converted a penalty (86).
Ipswich Town team news
• Tom Adeyemi has been described as ‘very, very doubtful’ by manager Mick McCarthy. The midfielder has felt his hamstring tighten again after returning to the team for last Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to Norwich.
• Emyr Huws (Achilles) is finally back in training and pencilled in to feature in an Under-23 game against Colchester on Monday.
• Teddy Bishop (groin), Luke Hyam (knee) and Andre Dozzell (knee) remain sidelined.
Burton Albion team news
• Nigel Clough has a shortage of strikers. Record signing Liam Boyce (knee) and Will Miller (hamstring) haven’t featured all season, while Joe Mason (back) and Lucas Akins (hamstring) are both doubts.
• Experienced defender John Brayford (hamstring) is also sidelined, but centre-back Ben Turner looks like he’ll be okay after jarring his knee in last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.
• Will McCarthy match up the host’s wing-back formation, as he did at Sheffield United recently? Possibly not. It was abandoned sharpish after a poor start at Bramall Lane. And the Blues boss has spoken about how his players felt a 4-3-3 system worked against Norwich last weekend.
– Burton are the league’s lowest scorers with six goals in 13 games
– It’s now 528 minutes since the Brewers scored a league goal from open play
– Town have gone 15 away games without keeping a clean sheet (1-0 win at Aston Villa on Feb 11 the last)
Opposition key man
Blues fans will look back fondly on ‘Reg’s’ time at Town. An honest pro who never stops running and battling up top. He may be 35 now, but is still doing a job in the Championship.
Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)
Games: 14, Yellows: 40, Reds: 1
Burton Albion (15/8)
Ipswich Town (17/10)
Burton Albion 0 Ipswich Town 1
Town to go back to basics and grind out a much-needed win.