Monday verdict: He who dares wins – Mick McCarthy need to show greater gumption

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Fortune favours the brave.

Ipswich Town’s players certainly don’t lack physical bravery. The way they’ve thrown themselves in the way of shots time-and-time again over the last two games is proof of that.

Every time these Blues players pull on the shirt they leave it all on the pitch. Not many fans up and down the land can say that. And Town supporters should never stop being proud of those qualities.

There is, however, a growing sense that Blues boss Mick McCarthy needs to be just a little bit bolder with some of his decisions.

Saturday’s goalless home draw with Aston Villa was no certainly disgrace. It was a fourth clean sheet in six and the second time a multi-million pound, recently-relegated outfit were more than matched.


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But it also left everyone with a nagging sense that it could have been more following a late, late bombardment on the visitors’ goal.

During a frantic eight minutes of stoppage-time, Town twice had efforts headed off the line, while Freddie Sears hit the base of the post.

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Substitutes Luke Varney and Leon Best injected instant life into the attack, but why did it take until the 88th minute to bring them on? McCarthy says neither player, both of whom had limited pre-seasons, are fully up to speed yet. More tellingly, he says he didn’t want to go on the offensive until Villa had done the same. It would have been nice for McCarthy to play his hand first.

Having squeezed the life out of a team clearly still gelling, why didn’t the Blues tighten the thumb-screws earlier in the second half? Had they done so just five or 10 minutes earlier then there is no way Robert Di Matteo’s men would have held out.

Villa have a new manager, virtually a new team and, on Saturday, were trying out a new formation and were without some key men through injury. It’s been well over a year since they won on their travels.

Respect everyone you play, of course, but sometimes you have to sense when the opposition is there for the taking.

When McCarthy brought on Varney and Tom Lawrence at half-time against Derby that was a move to stem the tide. Rarely are substitutions made to force the issue.

No-one of a sensible mind is asking the Yorkshireman to completely rip up what’s made his teams such a competitive force in the Championship over the past three seasons.

That solid, pragmatic platform is a must in this division. Those that call for a team packed full of strikers and attacking midfielders are simply being naive.

There are times when the odd gamble needs to be taken though. McCarthy is a safety-first, percentages man, he always looks to minimise risks and, as a result, it’s always fine margins. His teams are rarely thrashed, but rarely do they hand out a thrashing.

The Blues boss has plenty of attacking options at his disposal and, when all fit, it will be interesting to see how he utilises them.

He who dares wins. Those that don’t draw. It’s not that simplistic, of course. It sure feels that way sometimes though. As ever, the McCarthy era brings mixed emotions.

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