Supporter unrest, siege mentality and ‘short memories’ - striking similarities to end of McCarthy’s Wolves reign
PUBLISHED: 12:30 16 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:55 16 March 2018
Mick McCarthy has been here before.
The Ipswich Town manager’s contract is into its final months while his future beyond this season is yet to be decided, with Tuesday night’s home loss to Hull serving to highlight a broken relationship between touchline and terrace.
McCarthy was the target of chanting from increasingly large sections of the home crowd, while he and his side were booed off both at half and full-time as frustrations came to a head.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s visit to Bristol City, McCarthy admitted he had faced a similar situation in his previous jobs.
“At the end of a contract, when it ends, I guess,” McCarthy said. “I won the Championship with Sunderland and Wolves, but when it started to come to an end at those clubs I started to get a bit of grief.
“I’ve never had an atmosphere like that on Tuesday night though. I’ve had more hostile atmospheres, but that was complete apathy. I don’t think there was any respect for the players actually.
“Giving the manager stick is one thing. Doing it to the players is another altogether.”
The Blues boss also spoke passionately about his previous success at Portman Road, supporters’ frustrations, short memories and an insistence that he and his players will stick together despite criticism from the outside.
McCarthy fought his corner on Thursday. It’s not the first time he has done so.
Speaking while Wolves manager in October 2011, just over three months before his departure from Molineux after nearly six years at the club, McCarthy defended his record amid supporter criticism as they battled to move away from the Premier League relegation zone.
The current Blues boss had been subjected to chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” while 2-0 down in a game with Swansea, which ultimately ended 2-2, with McCarthy biting his tongue until a few days later.
His response, given in a press conference ahead of a League Cup clash with Manchester City, was remarkably similar to his forthright display at Playford Road on Thursday.
“We’d lost five on the bounce, we are 2-0 down, it’s not a good position. Do I like being there? Do I heck. Nobody does. But [the abuse] is not helpful,” then Wolves boss McCarthy said back in 2011.
“I almost think some turn up hoping it is going to be that way so they can have their whinge and get shot of the manager. They are not going to get shot of the chairman or the players – ‘let’s give it to the gaffer’.
“Do they have short memories? I’ve done a great job here. Five years ago, a million quid, 10 players. Five years on we are building the new stadium but we are having a tough time. Come on, give the lads a bit of support. Don’t be giving us aggravation. So, yes, I think they have short memories. But let me clear that up as well. I’ve also had unbelievable support this week, from the players, everyone at the club, and from fans writing and emailing in.”
“The players are all with me, don’t anyone think any different, and I’m with them. We’ve a great spirit amongst us. But I always worry when saying that [the players are motivated to prove the doubters wrong], that you are giving them some sort of back-handed compliment, that they have generated a good team spirit and a siege mentality, because they haven’t.
“All they do is destroy it. It is destructive and it’s no good to me or anybody else.”
Wolves’ battle with relegation was one the club ultimately lost, with McCarthy fired in February and replaced by current assistant Terry Connor for the remainder of a season which ended in relegation.
The Blues boss has insisted he will remain at Portman Road until the end of the campaign, at the very least. Anything beyond that remains to be seen.