Reaction: Mick McCarthy a relieved man after Ipswich Town snatch victory in topsy-turvy match at Wigan Athletic
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admitted relief was the over-riding emotion after his team won a rollercoaster match at fellow Championship strugglers Wigan Athletic this afternoon courtesy of David McGoldrick’s late goal.
Town led through Brett Pitman’s controversial ninth minute penalty, were well on top but then pegged back through Yanic Wildschut’s rebound finish (38). Wigan dominated most of the second half and took the lead through Wildschut’s fine strike (62), but Town hit back through Pitman’s clinical finish (68) and snatched all three points via McGoldrick’s late header.
With his team up to 15th in the Championship table ahead of festive home games against Fulham (Boxing Day) and Bristol City (Friday, December 30th), McCarthy said: “If you were sending a text you’d put ‘TFFT’. That’s what they put don’t they? I’m down with the kids me. The more polite thing to say would be ‘phew’.”
He continued: “I thought we started very, very well. I thought we were excellent for half an hour. I don’t know what the penalty was for, I haven’t got a clue and haven’t seen it again. Was it one? I don’t know, but having got it and scored it we were all over them and should have taken advantage.
“We lost the ball in the final third, it ends up being a free-kick to them and as soon as they make a mess of the first one but get another free-kick for the high foot against Freddie (Sears) you think it’s an absolute cert that it’s going to end up in our net because that’s just the way the season’s been going.
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“They were better than us in the second half and Warren Joyce must be scratching his head thinking ‘how the hell did we lose that game?’ And yet our subs have made a real impact and changed the game.
“I never thought we were out of it. A third one might have killed us though. Our back four had a tough afternoon and Bart (keeper Bartosz Bialkowski) has got our backsides out of the bacon slicer on a number of times.”
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McCarthy continued: “They weren’t really in it when they got their equaliser and we weren’t really in it when we got ours. Listen, if I could explain that I’d write a book, sell it and retire off that. If I could explain the fine detail of how momentum changes and why it changes... It generally changes off the back of goals.
“Once they got their second they were battering us for a while, but once we got our second I thought we looked like we might get a third.”
With McCarthy making five changes to the team which lost 2-1 at Birmingham on Tuesday night – Pitman, Sears, Jonny Williams, Andre Dozzell and Jonas Knudsen coming in for Luke Varney, Jonathan Douglas, McGoldrick, Grant Ward and Myles Kenlock in a bold 4-2-3-1 system – did fortune favour the brave today?
“Did my line-up win the game for me? Actually it was two lads that I left out – Wardy and Didz (McGoldrick) who have come on – that did that,” replied McCarthy. “I thought the 30 minutes at the start, with the team I selected, was really positive. We should have done better with the quality we had on in Jonny (Williams) and Dozza (Andre Dozzell). But listen, what I had been doing wasn’t working and the first sign of madness is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.”
How did McCarthy rate the performance of 17-year-old Dozzell, the youngster subbed in the 56th minute?
He said: “I thought he did great first half, but it got hard then in the second half when they got on top of us and I needed reinforcements. I thought Kevin Bru came on and played well. They were dominating the game and I had to change that,”
On the front pairing of Pitman and Williams, he said: “It was better with Pits and Jonny today because Pits stays right up the middle and occupies the centre-backs and that gives Jonny a bit of room to play. And he did, he got up behind things and played well. Didzy likes to drop in and play in those same positions, so we end up with nobody up front if you play two similar. They need a foil.”
What does today’s comeback say about the spirit in his camp?
“It says nice and good things and positive things about it,” he replied. “We feel a lot better after that win – we can enjoy the next few days a little bit more now.”
McCarthy had said before this game that we were in ‘six-pointer’ territory...
“Oh we were, we were,” he said. “If we’d have lost that our demeanour would have been so different. Our fans would have rightly been thinking ‘we’re in a relegation scrap’. Now we’re on 28 points and it all looks a better place.
“We’ve not been that far away. We’ve not been great, but we’ve not been rubbish either. It looked today like it was going to go against us again, but if it’s the team spirit and togetherness that’s got us through then great.”
With a section of the 554 away fans having chanted anti-McCarthy songs at 2-1, did the Blues boss take any extra-satisfaction from victory today?
“Oh they’ve been giving me stick for months,” he said with a smile. “That (criticism) doesn’t have me breaking down crying when I go home.
“But listen, I prefer it when they are enjoying watching us and they’re supporting us and me. I’m doing my best to turn that around. I don’t like producing turgid, horrible displays of football that don’t win games.
The only satisfaction I get is that they’ve seen those goals and a win. I’m not scoring points against our fans.
“Our fans have been brilliant with me. I’ve had four years of nothing but upward and onward and real support. We’re not doing great and I’m getting a bit of stick, but I probably deserve it.”