Mick McCarthy wary of bouyant Barnsley ahead of Championship opener
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says he is ‘slightly worried’ about newly-promoted Barnsley being the opposition for his side in their Championship opener at Portman Road tomorrow.
The Tykes were promoted back to the second-tier, following a two-year absence, via the play-offs at the end of May.
Remarkably, they had been bottom at Christmas and saw manager Lee Johnson leave for Bristol City at the start of February.
The South Yorkshire side won 20 of their last 30 games in all competitions though to finish sixth under Paul Heckingbottom, beat Millwall in the play-off final and also secure the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a win over Oxford.
“I think they were an amazing story considering it all looked like it was going to go wrong for a while,” said Barnsley-born McCarthy, who made more than 250 appearances for his hometown club.
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“They finished with a real silly record, had two trips to Wembley and won them both. I thought they played some great football, they looked well organised and, yes, they do worry me slightly because they are a team that are going to be well up for the Championship having been down in League One for a few seasons.
“They are happy to be here, they are desperate to stay here and they will be looking to upset us. It’s going to be a really tough game.”
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Barnsley have signed several of League One’s best players from last season, including Colchester United midfielder George Moncur, while their skipper is Conor Hourihane, a player who was released by Ipswich back in 2011. McCarthy said: “He looks a good footballer, has been one of their stand out players and has got a goal in him. It’s always sod’s law that a former player scores against you when they come back – let’s hope it’s not sod’s law for us on Saturday.”
Ipswich are now heading into their 15th successive season of second-tier football, with McCarthy having overseen finishes of ninth, sixth and seventh. The Blues boss has finally been allowed to spend some money on transfer fees this summer – £700k on Adam Webster and £600k on Grant Ward – but that pales in significance to the millions being spent by others.
“It doesn’t get any easier, but we’ll be up there competing again,” insisted McCarthy. “The aim is simply to finish as high as we possibly can and rub a few peoples’ faces in it again.”
He added: “We didn’t exactly rip it up in pre-season, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s now that matters. Now the tingle comes, the excitement comes, the nerves come. As a player I always preferred the butterfly in the stomach that made me play better.”
– See today’s Ipswich Star and tomorrow’s EADT for a 24-page ‘Kick-Off’ supplement including comment, player profiles and a big interview with Town’s head of academy recruitment Steve McGavin.