Mick McCarthy glad he’s won over the hearts and minds of Ipswich Town supporters

The Sky Bet Championship
Ipswich Town v Leeds United - Portman Road, Ipswich - 6 Dec 2014

The Sky Bet Championship Ipswich Town v Leeds United - Portman Road, Ipswich - 6 Dec 2014 Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy shakes hands with fans at the start of the match - Credit: Ashley Pickering

He’s finally won the hearts and minds of Ipswich Town fans. Now Mick McCarthy is determined not to lose them.

In just two years, the Blues boss has slowly but surely transformed the club from staring at relegation to League One into one with a very real shot at promotion to the Premier League.

More than a decade of false dawns and disappointments in this division had prevented supporters getting too carried away. Now a run of just one defeat in 17 has convinced the vast majority that there is real substance to this revolution.

With a pragmatic and honest manager forging a hard-working side to be proud of, the fans are flocking back to Portman Road.

Half season tickets are selling like hot cakes, while a crowd of more than 20,000 is expected for the third successive league game today. The last time that happened was in 2008.

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“It’s lovely, it really is – it’s fantastic,” said McCarthy. “I detected at one stage, when we were doing okay, that some were thinking ‘I’m not so sure’. I guess it’s that bit of trust that you have to gain.

“The fans don’t want to come back after you’ve just had a couple of good results and see you lose. I think Leeds (recent 4-1 win coming off the back of home successes against Wolves and Watford) was a really big game for that.

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“We’ve been there, in and around the top six, for long enough now that I think they can believe that we might actually stay there.

“That’s great. We’ve now got to keep getting the results to ensure they keep coming back.”

On today’s opponents Middlesbrough, Spanish boss Aitor Karanka now into his second season in charge, McCarthy said: “I found it interesting reading some of Aitor Karanka’s comments about playing against different styles. I think he has adapted to English football.

“When he first came here they’d just got slapped by us (3-1 at Portman Road), but they were ready for us when we went back up there (winning 2-0).

“They’ve changed the way they play, they’ve adapted to the league and I think that’s to his credit. He’s not come in and just thought ‘I’ve got a certain way of playing’ and ‘this is how we do it in my country’. I admire him for that.

“He’s actually far more pragmatic than that and they are actually more like us than some of the other teams.

“They’re good defensively, but they’re strong up front as well. They work hard and they’re hard to beat. They’re a really efficient Championship team.”

Asked whether the next four games could be season-defining for his side, the Blues boss said: “Our next four games will have a real bearing on where we’ll be by the end of next month. As regards the end of the season I have no idea. As has been proved by a lot of teams you can have a relatively bad month, then a good one.

“They are important games, of course they are. Let’s just focus on the next one, see if we can win that and go from there.

“If we can hit the top of the league before Christmas it would be great.”

– Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates.

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