REACTION & GALLERY: Welcome to the Championship! Mick McCarthy’s message to Felix Magath after opening day win over Fulham

Ipswich Town's Daryl Murphy celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal

Ipswich Town's Daryl Murphy celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal - Credit: Ashley Pickering

Ipswich v Fulham: Welcome to the Championship! – That was Mick McCarthy’s message for Fulham counterpart Felix Magath after his Ipswich Town side beat the newly-relegated outfit 2-1 at Portman Road to get their new campaign off to a flying start.

Goals in each half from Daryl Murphy (32) and David McGoldrick (61) rendered Tim Hoogland’s late reply (86) a mere consolation, a settled and organised Blues side fully deserving of the three points as a much-changed and youthful Cottagers outfit passed the ball about nicely but with no real threat in the final third.

Fulham’s German boss Magath complained that his young players weren’t given enough protection from the referee. When that was put to McCarthy he laughed heartily before saying: “Only 45 to go, tell him! I thought the game was played in a good spirit, I thought there were some hard tackles, but I don’t think there were any really nasty fouls.

“That’s welcome to the Championship that, isn’t it? They knew what my team would be like because Peter Grant works for them and I played with him at Celtic. He’s one of my good mates in football. He would have been under no illusions what to expect here. It wouldn’t have been a surprise to them.”

Asked how significant a winning start might be, he replied: “I don’t think there’s any added significance apart from the fact it’s a good three points for us. I watched the game last night, Blackburn-Cardiff, and when the managers shook hands at the end I thought, not being negative, but I’d take a point on the first day.

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“You just don’t want zippidy doo-daa, n points, because we’d then be going to Reading without anything.”

Reflecting on the game, he said: “It was a nervy end, but I think we deserved to win it overall. Gerks (Dean Gerken) has not had a lot to do, I have to be honest. Not that I’m saying their keeper has been diving around either, but I thought they had a lot of the ball without hurting us.

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“We scored a good goal on the break and I think we deserved it overall.”

On McGoldrick – who came on as a 44th minute sub for Balint Bajner, scoring on what was his first competitive match since undergoing knee surgery nearly six months ago – Mccarthy said: “I didn’t know if he was going to be a fit a few weeks ago, but I always thought he would score if we could get him back out there.

“It’s down to his diligence and professionalism that he was able to be fit. He’s worked really, really hard and he was desperate to be back playing. It’s great to have him back because he’s a really quality player.”

Would his team have made the top six last season had McGoldrick been fit?

“Yeah, we’d have p***** it!” he joked. “I can say what I want today can’t I?!

“We’d have been in a better place to compete for it, of course we would, but whether we’d have got it I don’t know. It’s hypothetical isn’t it, so it doesn’t matter.

“We are certainly a better functioning team when David McGoldrick is fit and playing. We score more goals with him in the team.”

On Murphy’s well-taken opener, the Blues boss said: “He practices it. TC (Terry Connor) put on striker practice sessions better than anyone else. Any strikers who have been with him and worked with him are improved. It was a fabulous finish on his right foot, especially when he’s had to run past him at full tilt.”

The Blues boss also had praise for midfielder Luke Hyam, saying: “He got cramp in the end, he just ran out of juice – and he’s the fittest lad I know. He was a big part of the first goal because he broke it up and we hadn’t been doing that really. We’d been letting them kick it, but Luke took it upon himself to go and nail somebody, get on the front foot and we scored from it.”

And he saved his best line for when explaining Bajner’s 44th minute withdrawal. “He was b******d. The lads call him Badger, well he was a b******d Badger. That was a bit of a welcome to the Championship for him today.”

Fulham boss Magath said: “I’m glad, not very glad, but I’m glad about our performance today. It has shown we are on the right way. We knew before it was a very difficult game for us, a very tough game.

“There is always the balance in the game. We have a lot of young players and the ones from the youth academy are not used to being tackled today. They need to get used to that. It’s a good learning session for them because the referee let things go on. We lost some tackles and therefore, in my opinion, we lost the game.

“In many periods, especially before the first goal, we had control of the game and played very good. We had the first chance to score, but after the goal we got a little bit nervous and lost our game plan.

“I don’t worry about the future though because I think we’re on the right way.”

– See Monday’s EADT and Ipswich Star for match analysis, comment and more reaction.

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