Mick McCarthy ‘extremely unhappy’ at way Ipswich Town fans reacted to Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Town manager Mick McCarthy pictured during the Ipswich Town v Readiing (Championship) football match

Town manager Mick McCarthy pictured during the Ipswich Town v Readiing (Championship) football match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 02 February 2016. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy says he was ‘extremely unhappy’ at the way supporters reacted to Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ performance in Tuesday night’s 2-1 home win over Reading.

The 18-year-old Arsenal loanee was taken off at half-time on a night when the doom and gloom mood inside Portman Road was palpable following the club’s controversial FA Cup exit, temporary slip out of the Championship play-off places and lack of action in the January transfer window.

McCarthy joked afterwards that he had made more noise than the home fans and, unprompted, brought up the issue again in yesterday’s pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s Championship match at Queens Park Rangers.

Asked simply how he thought Maitland-Niles had done during his first season of competitive football, the Blues boss replied: “He’s had about 20-odd appearances which, for an 18-year-old on loan, is pretty impressive actually.

“At times he’s been different class, at times he’s been mediocre, sometimes ordinary, but overall I’m thinking he’s been seven out of 10. I’ve been delighted with him. If you could get that from senior players in their first season at a club then you’d take it.

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“I thought he had a tough evening the other night. I was extremely unhappy about the crowd’s reaction towards him, because that’s not going to help him.

“We’ve taken a young player from Arsenal to help us and he has. I love him, he’s a great kid and if we could have him again next year I’d be happy to do it again.”

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He continued: “It was a difficult atmosphere. We’d just dropped out the top six, we’d gone out the cup and we weren’t playing brilliantly – I fully understand that.

“But it’s not always about playing brilliant, it’s about winning. And if we all stick together we’ve got a better chance of doing that.

“He’s a kid. He wasn’t getting any abuse, it was just all the moans and groans. He was having a tough time and, as we saw, that doesn’t help.

“If someone was standing over you while you were working moaning and groaning that would affect you too, believe me.

“He’ll play in bigger stadiums with bigger crowds and with even more people moaning at him at some point. You don’t mind abuse from opposing fans, that’s fine, but when it’s your own crowd...

“I understand it, because we weren’t playing well, but he shouldn’t be the figure that gets the brunt of it. I think he’s been very good for us.”

Later in the press conference, McCarthy was asked if his ‘let’s stick together’ message was a positive one. He replied: “It’s just so much better (when the crowd gets behind you). By the way I’ve complimented the crowd before. I can’t remember the game now, but there was a game where they were brilliant, stuck with us and really helped us get over the line. It’s a lot easier when that’s the case.

“I’m not for one minute suggesting that when the game’s not good they should all be loving it. I’ve just watched Tuesday’s game back this morning and if I could have watched it in the microwave it would have been a lot easier, because it wasn’t great.

“It’s still better if we’re getting that audible support though.

“But I also understand that if you’ve paid your money and it’s a pile of poo then you are going to whinge about it. I do get that.

“If I’ve got players who are not playing well then there’s no point in me whinging. I might do it while I’m watching, but at half-time I’ve got to jolly them along and get them to do better.

“Listen, we’ve not had many home games (with a flat atmosphere) like that though. It was just a bad atmosphere from the start of the game. I think they must have been feeling bad before the game because they just didn’t get going at all. And we didn’t help things because we didn’t excite them until the end.

“It’s like they all got woken up and brought back to life with an 89th minute blood transfusion!”

Dies he think that the controversial FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth and lack of January signings played a part in the mood turning sour

“Yes, probably, and I get that as well,” he said. “Losing (at Portsmouth) put more pressure on the Birmingham game, then we got one sent off (and lost 3-0), it was back-to-back defeats and maybe people starting losing a bit of faith.

“I get that. But I also look at Blackburn’s run now because they are still in the cup and they’ve got Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday. They could barely fit our re-arranged game in.

“We could have had it this coming Tuesday, but I’ve got a goalkeeper (Dean Gerken) who is out and that just gives me an added risk of injuring Bart (Bialkowski). So we took the 15th of March instead. Just have a look at Blackburn’s fixtures – it’s ridiculous.”

McCarthy has said in the past that ‘you go from God to dog’ very quickly in football. Has he learnt to block out criticism?

“You’ve known me long enough by now to know that I am consistent,” he replied. “If we’ve won, lost or drawn I always try and be at a consistent level. I think that’s the only way you can survive in this game.

“If you got high or low every time somebody said something about you that would be no good. I can’t say that it (criticism) doesn’t irk me or hurt me, but it’s how you deal with it. “I might think ‘I didn’t like that’, but then I think ‘**** it, just get on with it’.

“I was told once by a great man ‘do it in spite of everybody’, which is a little bit strong I suppose, but I did and I still am.”

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