Mick McCarthy has now outlasted 88 Championship managers – so what’s the secret to his longevity?
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Since Mick McCarthy took over as Ipswich Town boss on November 1, 2012 there have been 88 changes of manager by Championship clubs.
Mick McCarthy was appointed Town boss on November 1, 2012. Since then the brutal Championship has chewed up and spat out 88 different bosses – the most recent being Alex Neil (Norwich), Steven McClaren (Derby – again!) and Warren Joyce (Wigan).
At four years and 131 days in charge, McCarthy is the eighth-longest serving boss in English football’s top-four divisions. Only three other current Championship bosses have completed an entire season at their current club (Simon Grayson, Preston; Chris Hughton, Brighton and Carlos Carvalhal, Sheff Wed).
McCarthy – remarkably – is only the 15th permanent manager in Ipswich Town’s entire 81-year professional history. To put that into context, Leeds United have appointed that many since the turn of the century.
Very few Blues bosses have got the boot. Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson left to take over the England national side. The average tenure of post-war Portman Road managers is 262 games.
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Longevity has been a theme of his managerial career. He had four years at Millwall before taking the Republic of Ireland job, six-and-half-years with Ireland before resigning, three years at Sunderland (sacked) and five-and-a-half years at Wolves (sacked).
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Speak to any player who has worked under him and they will tell you his man-management skills are second-to-none. He’s open, honest, consistent, trustworthy, loyal and treats people like human beings. That means that he never loses the faith of the dressing room when times are tough.
A thick skin, utter conviction in his methods and ability to treat victory and defeat with the same level head has helped him block out the increasing noise that surrounds football in an era of 24-hour rolling news and social media.
Asked recently what the secret to staying in the job was, he replied, with a wry smile: “Being good at my job.”
Good point. He led Ireland to the last 16 of a World Cup – despite the disruption of the infamous Roy Keane fall-out – won the Championship title with both Sunderland and Wolves and was the latter’s first boss in 30 years to maintain the club’s top-flight status for two successive seasons.
And, don’t forget, he turned Town from relegation fighters into play-off contenders within the space of three years on a shoestring budget.
Town’s owner has got rid of three managers – Jim Magilton, Roy Keane and Paul Jewell – since taking over in December 2007. Speaking exclusively to the EADT and Ipswich Star in a rare interview, back in August 2015, he said he puts great stock in the club’s tradition of not being a sacking club.
“The managers that we had, as you know, were supported pretty much through thick and thin,” he said.
“It really was only when it was so obvious that they had to move on that we let them go.
“Why would a manager of Mick McCarthy’s skill, experience and desirability want to come to a club that was right at the bottom of the Championship and really in significant trouble at that November time? I think the deciding factor for him was the fact that the club supports its managers and that’s something the club has had a history of before I was involved.
“I think you’ve got to put that down to the quality of support the club has got. Some supporters are so vociferous about clubs getting rid of managers. Some owners and boards find it very, very hard to resist the pressures that are put upon them by fans. I’ve been at games where there are two or three thousand people chanting outside for the head of whoever it might be and that’s not a pleasant experience.
“Our supporters are a great bunch of supporters though. I think they are a knowledgeable group of supporters and a very fair group of supporters. That’s enabled, not just me, but previous owners to give their managers a great chance.”
All of the above has meant McCarthy has been able to ride out 12-18 months of stagnation when dozens of other clubs would have pulled the trigger. Town have gone from over-achieving to under-achieving and how much latitude the Yorkshireman has remains to be seen.
In one breath McCarthy says he wants to mend his relationship with the fans, in the next he insists he is not bothered what they think. His over-the-top praising of the opposition and perceived negative tactics is grating with many. He himself admits that many may have grown bored of him and that he will consider his future at the end of the season.
Evans remains supportive, publicly at least, but will be keeping an eye on how season ticket sales go over the coming weeks. If there is a summer split – and that’s a big ‘if’ – then there will be no acrimony.
Looking at the list of managers that have been sacked in recent years, should Town fans unhappy with McCarthy be careful what they wish for? Only time will tell on that front.
CHAMPIONSHIP MANAGERIAL CHANGES SINCE NOV 1, 2012
Nov 2: Blackpool – Ian Holloway (leaves for Palace)
Dec 26: Nottm Forest – Sean O’Driscoll (sacked)
Dec 27: Blackburn – Henning Berg (sacked)
Dec 29: Barnsley – Keith Hill (sacked)
Jan 5: Wolves – Stale Solbakken (sacked)
Jan 11: Blackpool – Michael Appleton (leaves for Blackburn)
Jan 12: Bristol City – Derek McInnes (sacked)
Jan 24: Huddersfield – Simon Grayson (sacked)
Feb 5: Nottm Forest – Alex McLeish (mutual consent)
Mar 19: Blackburn – Michael Appleton (sacked)
Apr 1: Leeds – Neil Warnock (resigns)
May 7: Wolves – Dean Saunders (sacked)
May 7: Millwall – Kenny Jackett (resigns)
Jun 23: Brighton – Gus Poyet (sacked)
Sept 28: Derby – Nigel Clough (sacked)
Oct 21: Middlebsrough – Tony Mowbray (sacked)
Nov 30: Barnsley – David Flitcroft (sacked)
Dec 1: Sheff Weds – Dave Jones (sacked)
Dec 2: Wigan – Owen Coyle (sacked)
Dec 16: Watford – Gianfranco Zola (sacked)
Dec 26: Millwall – Steve Lomas (sacked)
Jan 21: Blackpool – Paul Ince (sacked)
Mar 11: Charlton – Chris Powell (sacked)
Mar 22: Nottm Forest – Billy Davies (sacked)
May 9: Blackpool – Barry Ferguson (out of contract)
May 12: Brighton – Oscar Garcia (resigns)
May 27: Charlton – Jose Riga (end of contract)
May 31: Reading – Brian McDermott (mutual consent)
Aug 10: Huddersfield – Mark Robins (mutual consent)
Aug 28: Leeds – Dave Hockaday (sacked)
Sept 1: Watford – Giuseppe Sannino (resigns)
Sept 18: Cardiff – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (resigns)
Sept 18: Fulham – Felix Magath (sacked)
Sept 29: Watford – Oscar Garcia (resigned)
Oct 3: Bolton – Dougie Freedman (mutual consent)
Oct 7: Watford – Billy Mckinlay (mutual consent)
Oct 20: Birmingham – Lee Clark (sacked)
Oct 26: Leeds – Darko Milanic (sacked)
Oct 27: Blackpool – Jose Riga (sacked)
Nov 13: Wigan – Uwe Rosler (sacked)
Dec 15: Reading – Nigel Adkins (sacked)
Dec 22: Brighton – Sami Hyypia (resigns)
Jan 5: Norwich – Neil Adams (resigns)
Jan 11: Charlton – Bob Peeters (sacked)
Feb 1: Nottm Forest – Stuart Pearce (sacked)
Mar 10: Millwall – Ian Holloway (sacked)
Apr 6: Wigan – Malky Mackay (sacked)
May 15: Brentford – Mark Warburton (end of contract)
May 20: Leeds – Neil Redfearn (sacked)
May 25: Derby – Steve McClaren (sacked)
Jun 12: Sheff Weds – Stuart Gray (sacked)
Sept 28: Brentford – Marinus Dijkhuizen (sacked)
Sept 28: Rotherham – Steve Evans (mutual consent)
Oct 19: Leeds – Uwe Rosler (sacked)
Oct 24: Charlton – Guy Luzon (sacked)
Nov 4: Huddersfield – Chris Powell (sacked)
Nov 4: QPR – Chris Ramsey (sacked)
Nov 8: Fulham – Kit Symons (sacked)
Nov 10: Blackburn – Gary Bowyer (sacked)
Nov 30: Brentford – Lee Carlsey (end of interim spell)
Dec 4: Reading – Steve Clarke (sacked)
Jan 14: Bristol City – Steve Cotterill (sacked)
Feb 8: Rotherham – Neil Redfearn (sacked)
Feb 8: Derby – Paul Clement (sacked)
Mar 13: Nottm Forest – Dougie Freedman (sacked)
Mar 15: Bolton – Neil Lennon (sacked)
May 7: Charlton – Jose Riga (sacked)
May 7: Blackburn – Paul Lambert (sacked)
May 8: Cardiff – Russell Slade (sacked)
May 18: Rotherham – Neil Warnock (end of contract)
May 27: Reading – Brian McDermott (sacked)
May 27: Derby – Darren Wassell (end of interim spell)
May 31: Leeds – Steve Evans (sacked)
July 29: Wolves – Kenny Jackett (sacked)
Oct 3: Aston Villa – Roberto Di Matteo (sacked)
Oct 4: Cardiff – Paul Trollope (sacked)
Oct 8: Derby – Nigel Pearson (mutual consent)
Oct 19: Rotherham – Alan Stubbs (sacked)
Oct 25: Wolves – Walter Zenga (sacked)
Oct 25: Wigan – Gary Caldwell (sacked)
Nov 5: QPR – Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (sacked)
Nov 28: Rotherham – Kenny Jackett (resigned)
Dec 14: Birmingham – Gary Rowett (sacked)
Jan 14: Nottm Forest – Philippe Montanier (sacked)
Feb 21: Blackburn – Owen Coyle (sacked)
Mar 10: Norwich – Alex Neil (sacked)
Mar 12: Derby – Steve McClaren (sacked)
Mar 13: Wigan – Warren Joyce (sacked)