|A Fresh Start|
Written by Edmunds5 on Thursday, 1st Nov 2012 15:00
After much speculation, ex-Millwall, Republic of Ireland, Sunderland and Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has been appointed the new boss of Ipswich Town. The Irishman had previously been linked to Championship rivals Burnley, Bolton and Crystal Palace but has put pen to paper on a three-year deal at Portman Road.
McCarthy is joined by close friend Terry Connor who has been named as assistant, Connor worked alongside McCarthy at Wolves before temporarily succeeding him towards the back end of last season.
New boss McCarthy’s managerial career has featured considerable highs as well as some damning lows, particularly at Sunderland where he guided the Black Cats to promotion in 2004 where they were crowned champions after finishing the season on an impressive 94 points.
However, the following season proved to be a hugely difficult one with Sunderland 16 points off safety with just 10 matches remaining, McCarthy was somewhat inevitably relieved of his duties at the North-East outfit, and was replaced by Roy Keane, a decision that now holds a certain irony.
Wolves soon came calling though and McCarthy set his sights on the Premier League, however, a narrow defeat in the play-offs to Midlands rivals West Brom meant it was wasn’t going to be a first season to remember. Despite narrowly missing out on the top six in his second season, McCarthy achieved automatic promotion in his third.
The Irishman then led the club to Premier League survival in his first season back in the top flight, before repeating the trick the following year securing 17th place despite a home defeat to Blackburn on a tense final day of the season.
Things would turn sour though as McCarthy was sacked as Wolves manager following a string of disappointing results which left the Molineux side languishing in the lower reaches of the table.
The no-nonsense McCarthy, labelled ‘Big Mick’ because of his towering presence, had been out of work since but has now welcomed the opportunity to return to management with the Suffolk side. Clearly enthused and excited by the new challenge, McCarthy knows full well the mammoth task that lies ahead.
The term in at the deep end springs to mind with Ipswich enduring a miserable start to the season, picking up a miserly seven points from 12 games played, consequently plummeting to the bottom of the table.
But the resolute McCarthy is not one to shy away from a challenge, in fact he is one to relish it, his managerial career has far from been a doddle having experienced many relegation scraps in the past, and fighting them with considerable success.
McCarthy’s teams often portray traits that reflect his own personality both as a person and a player. The uncompromising 53-year-old is a grafter, a workhorse, a fighter, the essence of strength and is someone who displays an unmatched passion for the game and willingness to win.
I even recall an interview with McCarthy shown on Match Of The Day where a reporter asked whether he believed in himself in the midst of Wolves’ poor run of form, an unmoved McCarthy’s reply was “Do you who I am? Do you know what I’m about?”
This is combined with a dry humour and an endearing personality as well as a brutal up-front honesty. Post-match interviews are always entertaining when McCarthy is involved; there is no show for the camera, no false remarks but often admittance for below-par performances and a pained, believable expression after defeats. McCarthy will also acknowledge positive performances and will give his players plaudits if he feels they warrant it.
Some fans will question the appointment, concluding that McCarthy doesn’t play attractive, on the floor football traditionally associated with Ipswich Town. Brendan Rodgers he is not, Arsene Wenger he most certainly isn’t but be assured that McCarthy is not someone who will get his teams playing a hit and hope brand of football.
You are likely to see a team who will show various components needed to win football matches. There will of course be the gritty attributes that go unappreciated. Such as organisation, endeavour, work rate, spirit, an importance of set pieces and the odd uncompromising tackle.
But combined with this will be technical ability, pace and trickery with a strike force that is likely to display a mixture of physicality and intelligence.
This has been proven by his Wolves side, Karl Henry was your ballwinner, the tough tackler, players such as Nenad Milijas and Jamie O’Hara were your sweet left footers as the likes of Michael Kightly, Stephen Hunt and in particular Matt Jarvis injected pace and creativity from the flanks.
In relation to this, with players such as Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Lee Martin on Town’s books perhaps you will see a similar style, with the likes of Luke Hyam and Guirane N’Daw deployed in more disciplined roles.
Yes, Paul Jewell used these types of players in similar positions but Mick will know exactly how to get the best out of them, and will use these players in a system where there is a balance and cohesion about the play.
Many fans believed a young, up and coming manager was the way to go. Managers such as Karl Robinson, Paul Tisdale and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were all names touted as potential successors to Jewell and so some supporters have been left reluctantly accepting the new appointment. Being an Ipswich fan, I must say I also believed this was the correct approach.
However, the humiliating home defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday changed my outlook from viewing the potential appointment of McCarthy as a ‘he’ll do a job for us’ to a ‘Someone like McCarthy is a must’.
The situation just looks so bleak that I feel a young but ultimately unproven manager is not appropriate for the predicament we find ourselves in. Whether McCarthy will put huge effort into nurturing our young prospects remains to be seen, but he will bring a certain stability to the club and knows how to man-manage and motivate players, this has been billed as one of the key aspects the new manager must portray.
For me, the present is always more important than the future which means someone of McCarthy’s experience is crucial if we want to consolidate this season. Fans have to ask themselves if they would rather see a Town side trying to play an entertaining passing style but lose games 2-0 or play a slightly more direct, balanced style of football but win games by the odd goal. I know which one I would choose, especially when taking our league position into account.
There is also the added bonus that McCarthy has achieved promotions which is always a positive sign looking forward, though I will certainly not be getting carried away just yet. There has to be a patience and realism from Town fans and an understanding of the difficulty of the job. Besides, if Big Mick manages to keep the Blues up this season, for me it will hold the same significance as getting a club promoted.
The malaise that has surrounded Ipswich for many a year now needs a strong-minded, chin up chest out character like McCarthy to stop the rot. Too often we have seen players on big wages put in half-hearted and quite frankly unacceptable performances. There has been a lack of pride when wearing the shirt, a distinct lack of pride that has been a huge factor towards being embroiled into a relegation battle.
What seems to have transcended on the pitch seems to have also took place off it with recent events signalling the demise of the club, snaps of several members of the first team squad out partying following Paul Jewell’s sacking led to people questioning the motives of these players.
Others saw this as a non-story but the remarks made by players such as Michael Chopra on Twitter who told the fans to “get a f****** life” have been criticised by many Town fans, even those who previously thought the situation wasn’t a fuss.
Further more, on-loan midfielder Ritchie Wellens commented on how contracted Ipswich players “Didn’t care” with Wellens making the assumption that players were not hurt by losing games, a statement that bares truth and makes the appointment of McCarthy look even more astute as McCarthy seems the type of manager who will put players firmly in there place regardless of there reputations.
The goings-on at this club over the past few seasons would make even the most optimistic fan utterly dismayed. We have gone from a highly respected, family club to one who has lost identity and has looked lethargic and rather be leagued.
Things haven’t looked right from top to bottom but perhaps this is the start of something special for this football club, the board have faced high levels of criticism but perhaps Marcus Evans and Simon Clegg have finally found the right man to take this great club forward.
All the best Mick and Terry, now let's all as one start pushing this blue tractor from out the depths of this mud, it has been stuck there far too long. A fresh start.
Cheers for reading, Comments would be much appreciated.
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