Mick McCarthy knows some Ipswich Town fans are bored of him, but believes he can change the mood – just like he did at Wolves
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy knows some fans have simply become bored of him, but believes – with owner Marcus Evans’ backing – says he can change the mood surrounding the club.
The atmosphere inside Portman Road turned toxic when the Blues were comprehensively outplayed by Fulham in a 2-0 defeat on Boxing Day. It’s been a wholly uninspiring and insipid 2016 for the Championship’s longest-serving club. Attendances are rapidly dwindling, while more and more of those still turning up are voicing their discontent.
A run of three high-pressure games starts this evening with the league visit of a Bristol City side that have lost seven of their last eight (the other game was a 2-0 home win over Town). On Monday, the Blues are at QPR (who have lost six in a row), then it’s the visit of non-league side Lincoln City in the FA Cup third round.
“I don’t think people want to turn up wanting to shout negative things at me,” said McCarthy. “They’ll be a few because they’re sick of me, they’re bored of me, they’re bored of what I do, they’re bored of what I say, they’re bored of how I look, they’re bored that I haven’t had a shave, they’re bored of my hair – they’re just bored. They want to get shot of me. It happens. I get that.
“I still think it’s a small minority that turn up and want to be negative. There are some that have had enough of me and want to see me out of the job. That’s maybe 10%. The majority want to turn up, want to support the team, see them win and go home happy, just like I do.”
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At four years and 57 days in the job, McCarthy is now the eighth longest-serving manager across English football’s top four tiers.
He spent nearly four years in charge of Millwall, almost six years as Republic of Ireland boss, was at Sunderland for three years and more than five at Wolves. Did he sense fans getting bored of him at previous employers too?
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“Oh yeah, at Wolves we finished sixth, had nothing to spend, then finished seventh and there were a few who wanted me out the door then. We bought (Christophe) Berra and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, they made a huge difference and we won the Championship. I ended up having another three seasons.
“I’ve had tough times before in my career and come out the other side happy.
“We all think someone else will change things around and be slightly sexier or slightly better looking or less old, with different chat. It is like that. People get sick of it. Come on, you wouldn’t have to go far to get a better looking manager than me would you? Finding a better might be a lot harder though.”
Asked if this was his toughest time as a manager, he replied: “Does anybody need me to spell that out? Of course it has. Prior to this year it’s not quite been all sweetness and light, but certainly more enjoyable.
“I thought the end of the 15/16 season wasn’t so bad, even though we dropped off at the end. We’ve been having it tough since then.”
Why is that?
“We’ve probably lost our identity a little bit, the way my teams have played,” said McCarthy. “We lost Murph (Daryl Murphy) just before the end of the window and we’ve changed the way we played. I’m not sure that’s suited us to be honest.
“I still think the deal for Murph was the right deal, for him and for the club, and eventually we can replace him. But we’re missing him, we’re missing that focal point, that power, that pace.
“I think teams probably enjoy playing against us a lot more than they ever did beforehand. We’re going to get back to them not enjoying playing against us again.
“We need to get back to doing all those things that nobody ever complained about when we were winning, strangely enough. When you’re playing in the opposition half and tackling and being positive, that’s ultimately what people like to see.
“If you can do that wonderfully well and skilfully, like I’ve seen Tottenham and Liverpool do, well that’s better still. That pressing football is something we’ve done ever since I walked through the door. I don’t think we are doing it as well at the moment and that’s a problem. There are teams playing against us that couldn’t when I first came here.”
He added: “To say I think a lot about the job is an understatement. I’m always considering everything I’m doing and what I could do, how I could change it and do something different. I’m pretty clear in my thoughts though. I have clarity in what I want to do.
Town lost 2-0 at Bristol City at the start of this month. The Robins haven’t registered a point since then.
“I thought they were okay,” said McCarthy. “There wasn’t a lot in that game – a penalty and a wonder goal – but do you know what, it’s not about them, it’s about us. Whatever they do, we’ve got to try and counter that with how we play and be more positive and more forceful.
“These next two games are a big opportunity for us, but they’ll be saying the same about us because we’ve hardly been a force to be reckoned with.
“Things have got to change. We’ve got to create a more positive environment at the ground by our play and if we don’t then we’ll be in trouble.”
Might McCarthy try a wing-back system, like he did in the second half against Fulham?
“Possibly,” he replied. “It gave us a little bit more going forwards with two up front, but it left us a bit bare at the back because they had chances. Something had to be done on Boxing Day because we were getting mullered.
“I think Myles Kenlock would make a good left wing-back to be honest with you, Jonas (Knudsen, a doubt with a cut foot) might end up being a left-sided centre-back because he’s a good defender. Myles might have a bit more in terms of quality at the end of it. We’ll see won’t we?”