Monday verdict: Mick McCarthy’s change in tone and bolder actions are a starting point to re-uniting the Ipswich Town fans
Fortune favours the brave.
Yes, Ipswich Town rode their luck massively for much of the second half at second-bottom Wigan on Saturday before snatching a 3-2 win.
True, they conceded twice against a team that had failed to score in their previous five home games and had inspired keeper Bartosz Bialkowski to thank for it not being more.
However, it would be churlish to dismiss David McGoldrick’s 88th minute winner as some sort of ‘get out of jail free’ card for manager Mick McCarthy.
It’s too easy to dismiss this vital victory as ‘papering over the cracks’. And here’s why…
There has been a noticeable change in the ‘Pragmatic One’ over the last week. His tone has shifted from defensive and dismissive to conciliatory and humble.
For some time he has responded to critics with ‘remember where this club was four years ago’ rhetoric and appeared hurt that his past achievements had, in his mind, been so quickly forgotten.
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Last Thursday, he finally admitted: ‘It doesn’t matter what I’ve done elsewhere and what I’ve done here. That’s irrelevant. We’ve got to turn it around.”
Those are the words frustrated supporters wanted to hear and the team he subsequently named was exactly what many had wanted to see. Five changes; veteran duo Jonathan Douglas and Luke Varney among those dropped, young, dynamic midfielders Andre Dozzell and Jonny Williams among those handed a long over-due chance to shine.
All Blues fans have craved for is a bit of entertainment value, to see the shackles loosened and for homegrown talent given a chance. They certainly got all of that at the weekend.
The 500 or so away supporters that travelled to Lancashire must have feared more of the safety-first approach and a dire goalless draw at best. In a pleasant surprise they got a ding-dong match in which both teams slugged it out and had each other on the ropes at times.
Most of Town’s 47 matches played in 2016 have been instantly forgotten, but this fun in the fog will live long in the memory.
Following a much-documented year of stagnation, many Blues fans feel they have reached the point of no return with McCarthy.
Sadly, it has reached a point where many openly admit they now want their team to lose in order to force change.
Critics will say one swallow does not make a summer. They will say that we’ve had false dawns before and that Saturday’s performance poses more questions than answers – all fair points.
McCarthy’s stubbornness has softened though. By admitting that he ‘probably deserved’ some of the recent stick, he has extended an olive branch. The onus is on him to win back people’s hearts. More of the same will go a long way to doing so.