Pressure is just as big on surprise top three, says Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy
- Credit: Archant
It may have been a surprise top three on Christmas Day, but Mick McCarthy doesn’t believe there is any less pressure on Bournemouth, Ipswich Town and Brentford to achieve promotion to the Premier League compared to the chasing pack of pre-season favourites.
League-leaders Bournemouth came close to dropping out of the Football League in 2009, are only in their fifth-ever season at second-tier level and have never played in the top-flight.
Second-place Town, in their 13th successive season in the Championship, started the campaign as no more than top-six dark horses considering their lack of spending.
And newly-promoted Brentford, who have also never been in the top-flight, are third following a run of seven wins from eight games.
The latter two face each other at Griffin Park this lunchtime (1pm ko), with the likes of Middlesbrough, Derby, Watford, Norwich, Blackburn, Nottingham Forest and Wolves – all far more fancied back in the summer – all hot on their heels.
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And the recently relegated duo of Cardiff and Fulham are still capable of making a charge in the second half of the campaign too.
“I think the top three is a surprise to most,” said Blues boss McCarthy. “It’s Bournemouth, us and Brentford. You’d have won a few quid if you’d backed that for Christmas Day wouldn’t you?
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“Is there any less expectation on our shoulders? I’m not so sure.
“I think when you get into a good position, whoever you are, people begin to expect and put pressure on you.
“That will be no different at Bournemouth, no different at Brentford and it’s certainly no different here. People start to expect, and want, and believe, and think we can get there.
“I would say, however, when I was at Wolves and Sunderland, the pressure was more because they expected to be in the Premier League. Nobody deserves to be in the Premier League though – you have to earn it.”
When told that the three teams that were promoted last season – Leicester, Burnley and QPR – were top three on Christmas Day last year, McCarthy joked: “I’m not sure if you’ve made me feel better or worse by saying that! Maybe it will happen again, maybe it won’t. Today’s top three teams do look good.
“I do think Bournemouth are the best team in the league. I’m not going to say that about us or Brentford. We’ll just keep scrapping away for points and see where that takes us.”
– See today’s EADT for full match preview. Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates from Griffin Park.