McCarthy says tactical tweaks prove he is not a ‘silly, belligerent old man’

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy gives out instructions. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy gives out instructions. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy says his tactical flexibility proves he’s not a ‘silly, belligerent old man’.

The Blues boss – who turned 59 last month – has deployed a 4-4-2 formation for much of his near 26 years in management. That was the system used for both his promotions with Sunderland and Wolves, as well as in 2014/15 when Town secured a play-off place.

However, in more recent times, he has used everything but that formation in an attempt to find a winning formula. It’s primarily been the in vogue 4-2-3-1 set-up this season, while there has also been wing-backs (3-5-2) and, for the last two matches, an unusual 3-4-3 system. There have also been several in-game tweaks.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Championship visit of relegation-battling Hull City – a game which is still scheduled to go ahead despite the heavy snow – McCarthy said: “My job is to get results and if I think 4-4-2 is not going to get it then it’s pointless me doing it. I would just be a silly, belligerent old man just doing what I want to do and not doing what’s right for the club and for the team.

“I very often play a particular set-up for a particular game. Thankfully I’m a bit more flexible than being belligerent and thanking this is how it has to be and there’s no Plan B. There has to be because we’re not the best team in the league.”

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A back three has enabled McCarthy to play both Tottenham loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers and the fit-again Adam Webster either side of captain Luke Chambers in defence. In the games against Cardiff (1-0 home loss) and Preston (1-0 away win), full-backs Jonas Knudsen and either Jordan Spence or Dominic Iorfa have been deployed in more advanced roles. McCarthy has then rotated his front three, with Joe Garner, Martyn Waghorn, Mustpaha Carayol, Grant Ward, Bersant Celina and Freddie Sears all handed starts.

McCarthy said: “A back three does give us height to deal with corners and free-kicks against anybody and then a front three gives me licence to play whatever I want up front – we can be a bit quicker, a bit more mobile and more of a threat.

“It worked very well against Cardiff. I know we didn’t score, but for a bonkers decision we wouldn’t have conceded one either. Then, at Preston, we had lots of first half chances and never looked like conceding.”