Monday verdict: Actions are not matching words at Ipswich Town – Mick McCarthy’s PR problems are his own making
Actions are not matching words at Ipswich Town Football Club.
Owner Marcus Evans has revealed his five-point plan. Developing academy graduates and entertaining football is on his wish list.
Manager Mick McCarthy says he is committed to that. There were signs he was changing. Vibrant displays were produced against Bristol City, QPR and Blackburn. Josh Emmanuel, Myles Kenlock and Andre Dozzell started getting significant game-time.
The Blues boss’ safety-first, short-term ‘every point’s a prisoner’ outlook seems deep-rooted though.
McCarthy said he was up for the Cup. He said he would play his strongest possible team in the replay at Lincoln. Yet he made five changes to the side that started in the 3-2 home win over Blackburn three days earlier. Only one was enforced. Fans clearly placed more importance on that tie than he did.
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Last Thursday, with his team out of the cup and stranded in mid-table, McCarthy said success in the final few months of the campaign would be improving younger players in order for the team to start afresh. Great.
Two days later, Emmanuel is dropped, Dozzell gets the hook at half-time and, following a 2-0 loss at high-flying Huddersfield, his rhetoric changes. Now he says: “Developing players is great, but we need to pick up points and we need to be hard-nosed.”
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Evans has said that he backs McCarthy. He’s not backing him in the transfer market though. Owner, manager and fans once sang from the same hymn-sheet. Now they all appear on different pages.
Of course, every single thing McCarthy does and says is being hyper-analysed right now. His tone, choice of words, body language, team selections, substitutions – it’s all under the bright, burning football spotlight and people are finding fault in everything.
Every success, meanwhile, is dismissed as ‘lucky’ or ‘papering over the cracks’. When people have made up their minds on someone they’ll generally see what they want to see.
Did Emmanuel need a rest after playing two games in four days? Maybe. Did Dozzell deserve to go off after a fairly anonymous display. Probably. We’ve reached this purveying dark mood for a reason though.
McCarthy should have a deep well of sympathy to live off in this driest of spells. Key injuries and a lack of funds are undeniable, but the stubborn Yorkshireman has created many of his own unnecessary PR problems.
His history of not trusting in youth and a penchant for saying some undiplomatic things after games has led to an inherent cynicism. Fans should have felt included in a siege mentality, but instead they have sometimes been made to feel like the enemy themselves.