Now’s not the time to sit in the corner and cry, says McCarthy ahead of tonight’s Elland Road visit
Four days on from their television nasty at Reading, Ipswich Town face another tough away test – at Leeds United (7.45pm ko).
Everything in the garden was rosy following the Blues’ six-game unbeaten start to the season. Mick McCarthy’s men were top, playing some easy on the eye football and had booked a Capital One Cup trip to Manchester United.
Then came two sobering defeats either side of the first international break.
First there was a 3-2 home loss to Brighton; a spirited second half fightback, combined with the absence of an injured Christophe Berra and the Seagulls’ fine form meaning this could be somewhat dismissed as a dropped stitch.
Then came last Friday’s 5-1 thrashing at the Madejski Stadium. The ruthless Royals converted five of their nine shots on goal to end a home league goal drought that had stretched back more than five months in style.
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Did the scoreline tell the whole story? Not really. It could have been very different had any of Freddie Sears, David McGoldrick or Brett Pitman taken golden chances at 2-1.
Town’s gung-ho approach left them exposed to the counter-attack though, the central midfield duo of Cole Skuse and Jonathan Douglas looked sluggish, defenders Jonas Knudsen, Luke Chambers and Christophe Berra were all uncharacteristically well below-par, while keeper Dean Gerken – by no means the sole reason for defeat – had a comical moment of hesitation for the crucial third.
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Tonight the Blues face a Leeds side that is one of just four unbeaten teams left in the Championship after six matches – albeit their record reading W1 D5.
The Yorkshire outfit haven’t won at home since their 2-1 victory over Town little more than six months ago, but under the management of Uwe Rosler look a far more stable club following years of off-field disruption.
The reaction of both managers following Friday night’s match at the Madejski Stadium said a lot.
Reading boss Steve Clarke didn’t exactly have to be peeled off the ceiling, while Town manager Mick McCarthy was hardly disconsolate. In fact, to the uninitiated, you’d struggle to work out which was the man in charge of the winning team based on body language alone.
McCarthy has been there, done it and got the tee-shirt as a player and manager of course.
“Years ago I would have reacted differently,” he admits. “But I know what football can give you and what it can take away from you.
“It’s a matter of being consistent with how you deal with everybody, be that the media, the lads in the dressing room or the staff.
“The players were off on Sunday morning, because that’s what we’d planned for and I’m not one that throws my toys out the pram and says ‘right, you’re all coming in’. I let them go and spend a day with their families and me and TC (Terry Connor) went to watch Leeds.”
Does he back his team to bounce back quickly?
“Yes, because I don’t see that too often,” he replied. “I took a big part of the responsibility for the team I put out. We were a bit open.”
Has he been guilty of getting carried away with the new attacking talent at his disposal then?
“We’ve certainly got more attack-minded players in the team – whether it’s Ainsley (Maitland-Niles) as opposed to Paul Anderson, or Ryan Fraser as opposed to Tabby (Jay Tabb). We’ve got more flair and more attack-minded players, but they can still do the dirty jobs, track back and get their tackles in. We just got out of shape a little bit and we were punished by a good team.
“I don’t look for excuses, I look for reason. But Chamby (Luke Chambers) has just come back from tonsillitis and before half-time I was going to take him off because he had a migraine. Christophe Berra had been out for two weeks with a hamstring injury.
“They had a tough night and we had a tough night as a back four, but they’ve been brilliant so I am not worried about them in the slightest.
“What do you do when you’ve had a bad day in the office? Do you go and cry in the corner, do you go and get rocking drunk, do you go and do something bonkers? Or do you go back to work and get back to doing something that you’re quite clearly good at?”
– Log on at 6.30pm for the start of our live online coverage at Elland Road tonight.