Mick McCarthy admits he’d be ‘bonkers’ not to change his team for Wigan trip

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

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

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy says he’d be ‘bonkers’ not to try something new ahead of tomorrow’s match at fellow Championship strugglers Wigan Athletic.

The Blues boss named the same starting XI for three matches in a row – the 3-0 home win over QPR, 2-0 loss at Bristol City and 1-1 home draw with Cardiff – while there was just one enforced change for the midweek 2-1 loss at Birmingham City as Myles Kenlock replaced the injured Jonas Knudsen at left-back in a 4--4-2 system.

Now it looks like there will be a change in both personnel and tactics as the division’s two lowest scorers – both of whom have claimed just 14 points from their last 14 matches – prepare to go head-to-head at the DW Stadium.

“I’ve tried different things and we might have to try something else now, we’ll see,” said McCarthy. “We’ve had that 4-4-2, looked to be solid and hard-to-beat and grind things out and we’ve not done that have we?

“We need a spark from somewhere. If you keep playing the same team and not getting results then I’d be bonkers not to change it wouldn’t I?

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He continued: “We’ve played all the shapes – 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, we played 5-3-2 at Bristol. We had a good spell where we didn’t look like conceding when we had one up front playing 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, whatever numbers anybody wants to put on it.

“We had one main striker and we couldn’t score then, but we had lots of clean sheets (seven in 11, August to September). Well we certainly need a clean sheet at the minute.”

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The likes of Brett Pitman, Jonny Williams and Freddie Sears – all of whom had a positive impact off the bench in midweek – could come into the side.

Knudsen is available again after missing out at St Andrew’s with a tight hamstring, but stand-in Kenlock was described as ‘different class’ by McCarthy. Asked if the 20-year-old might keep his place, the Blues boss replied: “We’ll see.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy said he would never consider cancelling the players’ Christmas party due. He said: “I don’t stop that because they would just become resentful. And it’s not like they’ve all downed tools and stopped trying. I do believe they earn a bit of down time.

“They have a couple of beers and sometimes the truth outs – you find they might just share with each other what they actually think when the staff are not around. That can be a good thing.”

He added: “Team spirit is fine. I guess morale takes a knock when results take a knock. I’m not going to tell a lie. We’re all feeling a little bit lower than we would like to be.”

Both McCarthy and his Wigan counter-part Warren Joyce insist their struggling teams aren’t playing badly.

Town are 17th, while the Latics are 23rd in the table. In 21 league matches, Ipswich have scored 19 (only five away) and Wigan have netted 16 (only six at home).

“Teams haven’t really been carving us open,” said McCarthy. “As a unit we’ve been okay, but we’ve made mistakes.

“They’ll be looking at us thinking ‘wow, this mob aren’t doing particularly well’. They’ll be relishing us going up there. Hopefully it’s one of those games where the pressure is on them because they’ll all be thinking it’s a good fixture for them.

“Like us they are finding goals hard to come by. Both of us are just having a struggle at the minute and are desperate for a win.”

Joyce replaced Gary Caldwell in the Wigan hot-seat at the start of November. The former Manchester United youth team boss has overseen one win, one draw and four defeats thus far.

Speaking after his side lost 2-0 at home to Newcastle on Wednesday night, Joyce said: “I think we just needed to have a bit more devilment in the box in that second half, we had some really good opportunities from some good play but didn’t end with a goal in that period.

“We made a mistake and a lot of goals come from mistakes and that’s certainly how the goals have come in the last two or three games.

“But we have to dust ourselves down and try and eradicate the mistakes from our game.

“We’ve tried to win every game since I’ve been here and none of the teams we’ve played since the Barnsley game have carved us open. We’ve had a way of stopping teams from creating many chances, I can’t recall the keeper having to make many saves to keep us in the games, which shows we have a method.

“The lads have shown a willingness to run and put their bodies on the line and stop sides from hurting us.

“We’ve created opportunities but the final touch hasn’t been there. They’re the fine margins we have to work on.”

McCarthy added: “They aren’t playing badly, but are getting beaten. I can empathise with that. It’s not easy if that keeps happening.”

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