‘We’ve got to get a result against one of the better sides,’ admits McCarthy after Sheffield United defeat

Adam Webster heads the ball clear at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Adam Webster heads the ball clear at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admits his team have got to find a way of taking points off the division’s leading sides following this afternoon’s 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United.

Chris Basham’s 49th minute header was the difference at Bramall Lane as the Blades move joint-top of the Championship table.

The Blues have dropped to 10th. All six of their wins have come against bottom-half sides, while they have come up short against Sheffield United (2nd), Bristol City (4th), Leeds (6th), Fulham (9th) and QPR (14th).

A tough period continues with the visit of Norwich City to Portman Road on Sunday, while high-flying Cardiff (a) and Preston (h) are also coming up.

“I’m pretty annoyed that we lost the game,” said McCarthy. “I thought they started well, but we grew into it.

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“It’s a very good goal from them, but it’s a very poor one for us to concede from start to finish – them getting out of the back, not stopping the cross and then somebody getting the run on one of ours at the far post. Little mistakes all over and it ends up in the back of our net.”

With the Blues having lost five of their last seven games, McCarthy was asked if he was having to dig deep as a manager at the moment.

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“I pretty much have to dig deep every week, whether it’s good bad or indifferent,” he replied. “I’m well able to handle that.”

• Seven observations from Town’s 1-0 loss at Sheffield United

Having abandoned a wing-back system midway through the first half, he explained: “I had to change the way we were playing. They were having too much of the ball and when I changed to 4-3-3 we stemmed the tide somewhat and then we had some chances. It’s fine margins and we’ve blinked unfortunately and they’ve got the goal.

“I do think Sheffield United are a good side. I think they will stay up in the top six. I don’t think they will fall away. They’ve got momentum, a good way of playing and they all look to be working very hard for each other. I think they’re a good team.”

When it was pointed out that all of his side’s wins have come against struggling sides so far, he said: “Yeah and if we end up beating all the bottom 10 teams and we finish above them all then, yeah, I’d be thrilled with that.

“Yes, we’ve got to get a result against one of the better sides, one of the top teams, and next Sunday (Norwich) would be a good starting point wouldn’t it?”

• Match report: Sheff Utd 1 Ipswich Town 0

Asked if that meant he saw his team as a mid-table outfit, McCarthy replied: “All I’m saying is if you beat the bottom 10 teams twice then you’ve got a solid base. We’re never going to beat them all, of course we’re not, so it would be good to start picking up some points off the teams above too.

“I’m not going to give anybody a read on where I think we’re at.

“We’ve had some really good performances. I didn’t think that was a bad performance today. I don’t think Leeds (3-2 away defeat) was. I don’t think Bristol City (3-1 home defeat) was either where they scored two deflected goals.

“Nevertheless they are the teams above us and they’ve still beaten us. We’ll have to find a way to change that.”

He continued: “We’re going to be tested in the games coming up. We’ll soon find out whether we are a match.

“I know people don’t particularly like my pragmatism and my realism, but I’m very self aware of what I am, what I do and the team that I’ve got and how we play. I’ll keep that to myself.”

Striker Joe Garner was absent at Bramall Lane with a knee injury. Asked how long the front man might be out for, McCarthy replied: “I don’t know. I’ll see on Monday. Hopefully there is no swelling and he can crack with training on Monday. Of course he’s a big loss because he’s been fantastic and different class for us.

“I thought Waggy (Martyn Waghorn) played really, really well though, whether he was wide or up the front.”

David McGoldrick was substituted in the 73rd minute. Asked if the striker had picked up an injury after his recent tight hamstring, McCarthy replied: “Not at all. He’d been away with Ireland, got back on Sunday and I just thought we needed fresh legs. I thought Freddie (Sears) was great when he came on. He stretched them and gave us something different.

“If you keep doing the same thing that is the real definition of madness to be honest.”

On the Norwich match, he said: “It’s a great game. We’ve lost today and it’s a huge game coming up. It’ll be exciting for everybody if we win and it will be bloody horrible if we lose.”

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