McCarthy would love to add Aston Villa to his prize scalps

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy would love to add Aston Villa to his collection of prize scalps in what he considers the uneven playing field of the Championship.

The Blues boss was afforded the relative luxury of spending £1.3m in transfer fees this summer, a drop in the ocean when you consider there was a record outlay of more than £200m by second-tier clubs during the recent window for business.

Relegated Premier League clubs are now handed around £87m in parachute payments over a three-year period, thanks to the new £5.1billion television deal.

That means that Villa arrive at Portman Road this afternoon having spent more than £50m on the likes of Ross McCormack, Jonathan Kodjia and Albert Adomah following the end of their 28-year stay in the top-flight.

“It’s kind of not strange anymore when you think about some of the clubs in our league – there’s 18, at least, who have been in the Premier League,” said McCarthy.

“I don’t know what’s gone wrong for them. They finished sixth three times in row under Martin O’Neill and after he left they seemed to be on the pig’s tail spiralling downwards.

“It makes for a sexy fixture, Ipswich versus Aston Villa.

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“I would think they will be challenging for promotion because of the size of the club and the players they’ve got, but every time teams play them, us included, it’s a big game.

“It becomes a bigger game than, with the greatest respect, playing against Barnsley, Preston or Birmingham, or Ipswich – let’s include my club in that.

“Playing Aston Villa is a big game and I think everybody tries a little bit harder.”

Newcastle United and, to a lesser extent, Norwich City have also spent big following relegation. Asked if he felt parachute payments should be scrapped, McCarthy replied: “I think more money should be coming to the Football League. People might say ‘why is that?’ It might make it a fairer platform, a more level playing field.

“It’s weighted far too much at the top. If you consider there’s a hundred million gone out in agents’ fees and to other people who have got nothing to do with football and that’s a hell of a chunk of dosh. What could we do with that in the first and second divisions?”

Having produced a battling 1-0 win at Derby County on Tuesday night, a team who have splashed the cash themselves in recent years, McCarthy added: “I’m not worried about whatever they get though. I quite enjoy punching against the big boys and it pleases me all the more when we beat them, like we did on Tuesday night.”

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A Champions League win wasn’t enough to persuade Chelsea owner Roman Ambramovich that Roberto Di Matteo could bring sexy football to Stamford Bridge, but no-one can accuse the Italian of not being bold with his early team selections at Aston Villa.

The 46-year-old has often looked to crow-bar all of his attacking talent into the team and, for Wednesday night’s 1-1 home draw with Brentford, he started with four out-and-out strikers in Ross McCormack, Rudy Gestede, Jordan Ayew and Jonathan Kodjia.

Pointing the above out brings a wry smile out of Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy, a self-labelled pragmatist.

“‘Bold’... That’s an interesting way of putting it,” says the Yorkshireman, picking his words.

“It can be an issue having so many good players. There’s a temptation to try and get them all in.

“People will do it with my team when everyone is fit. They’ll go ‘well (David) McGoldrick has got to play, Jonny Williams has got to play...’ If Tom Lawrence starts ripping it up then he’ll have to play, if Freddie (Sears) is ripping it up then he’ll have to play, (Teddy) Bishop will have to play, (Andre) Dozzell will have to play...

“You can get carried away with that. You have to pick a team to win games. If you have loads of good attacking players you can sometimes overlook what it might need to win the game.”

He continued: “It’s a skill, defending. You have to have talent to do it. Everyone wants to talk about the beautiful game, the great shots and the bits of skill, but that only thrives if you do all the other stuff.

“What we need to do is put the other bits of stuff on top. Maybe we can pose more of a threat than just having to sit in and defend, but when you play against good teams that’s sometimes the way it happens. I’ll always take a clean sheet me.”

Asked if an extra day of rest and Villa’s seemingly fragile confidence could help his team today, McCarthy said: “Derby had an extra day of rest and they didn’t look tired. Apparently their confidence was pretty fragile too, but it didn’t look like that to me.

“You just worry with a team like this (Villa), with so much quality, that all of a sudden it all clicks and you think ‘where’s that been?’ We have to stop them having their day.”

Meanwhile, when asked if he had been wrapping Bishop in cotton wool this season, the midfielder starting just two games after an injury-hot campaign, McCarthy replied: “No, not really. (Cole) Skuse and (Jonathan) Douglas have been brilliant. As a central midfield pairing they have been absolutely top-class, the pair of them.

“That’s hindering other players’ development, but if we keep getting results I’m not bothered.

“Teddy is fine. We’ll find out if he can play 90 minutes on a regular basis when he gets the opportunity.”

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