Reaction: Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says Nottingham Forest celebration could easily have been a wake
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says Nottingham Forest’s celebrations could have easily been a wake today.
Forest beat the Blues 3-0 at a packed City Ground to secure their Championship safety on the final day of the season, while Town ended up in 16th – their lowest finish since 1959.
Ipswich created the better chances in the first half, but a controversial penalty award allowed Britt Assombalonga to open the scoring just before the break. Chris Cohen’s deflected strike and Assombalonga’s fierce near post finish sealed the home side the win, relegated Blackburn, and sparked a pitch invasion at the end.
“It’s interesting isn’t it?” said McCarthy. “We’re here today and it’s almost like Nottingham Forest have won the league today – it’s like their FA Cup Final. It was either going to be a wake or a celebration and up until the penalty it could easily have been a wake.
“Good for them, good for Mark Warburton, but we had our day at Burton and against Newcastle (over Easter). We’ve done what Nottingham Forest have done, but earlier than them. It could have been us looking for points today.
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“The general gist of my team talk at the end was ‘thank you’. I’m not saying the lads have been great with results and performances, but as a bunch of lads they have been great. They’ve stuck together and made sure we weren’t in Nottingham Forest’s position today.
“We’ve not been good enough all season long though. That game has probably summed our season up, to be honest – some good, some bad, some indifferent.”
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Asked if it was a harsh scoreline on his side today, McCarthy replied: “On the first half performance it was. The guy on Sky just said to me ‘you did well to hold them’. I don’t think that was the case at all, I thought we were equally as good as them in the first half. They had a good start, but we got into the game and then gave the most stupid penalty away.
“And I’m not blaming Bart (Bialkowski). He couldn’t do anything but come for it. The defender (Myles Kenlock) has allowed him to get in behind from a throw-in. That was ridiculous.
“I haven’t looked at it that closely. He (Bialkowski) tried to come out and punch it, they’ve collided, but it shouldn’t have got in behind in the first place.
“I’m more annoyed at the third goal. He gives us a free-kick, we fan out trying to play, they get the ball back and Assombalonga goes and scores. That was a bit annoying.”
Did Forest’s extra competitive edge make the difference in the second half?
“Probably, yeah,” said McCarthy. “I tried to change it to two up front and match them, but it didn’t work. Myles had a really tough first half and so I wanted to give Josh (Emmanuel) 45 minutes.”
Emmanuel gave away a penalty, as he had done at Rotherham, with another clumsy foul in the box.
“We have been very fortunate that they (Kenlock and Emmnauel) have come through and got themselves in the team, but they are still learning very much,” said McCarthy. “They’ve only made something like 20-30 starts between them and that’s not a lot. They are both very young and inexperienced, but have got good potential. Overall they’ve both had good seasons, but towards the end of the season they get physically tired and mentally tired and they’ve both got to come back and be ready for a tough year next year.”
Christophe Berra was replaced by the fit-again Adam Webster in the 81st minute and went off to a standing ovation from the away fans. With Berra soon to be out of contract and keen to move back to his native Edinburgh, was that McCarthy giving the stalwart Scot his chance to say goodbye?
He said: “It was more a gesture to Adam to put him on and let him have 10 minutes after such a horrible injury, but if it was Christophe’s last game it was nice the fans gave him a lovely ovation. He deserves it, because he’s been terrific.”
Teenage midfielder Flynn Downes was on the bench for the first time today.
“I’ve been very impressed with him and Tristan (Nydam),” said McCarthy. “I’ve just said to him that this wasn’t the day for him, but he’s got a really good chance.
“Technically he’s a very good footballer. He’s athletic, he puts his foot in and he’s a real competitor and winner. He shows no respect for the first-team in training. He comes and dumps them on their backsides if he needs to. I like that. It’s the same with Tristan. It’s all central midfield players we’ve got coming through with Dozza (Andre Dozzell) too.”