McCarthy: Watershed Four Games
Saturday, 15th Mar 2014 06:00
Mick McCarthy believes the Blues’ next four games will make or break his side’s season. Town face seventh-placed Wigan at Portman Road today before they visit Brighton, who are eighth, next Saturday, prior to third-placed Derby and Nottingham Forest in fifth visiting Suffolk.
“It could be a watershed four games,” he said. “It could determine where we’re going to be and where some of the others are going to be, without any shadow of a doubt. It should be exciting, they’re good games in prospect.”
Despite Town having beaten only Reading and Brighton of the sides above them in the table, McCarthy says the Blues have actually played well against the division’s better teams this season: “Burnley, there was just that one goal. We’ve played all right against the teams above us in the main part.
“Leicester, we got slapped there, but at home I thought we played really well. We were just beaten by a better side on the day.
“If we can play as well as we have against [those sides] I’d be delighted. Our performances against Burnley and Leicester here, we murdered Leeds for half an hour, although they’re a lower down the table, Reading we played well against them. Nottingham Forest away, we did.
“I think our performances have been good against them. If we create chances against them when we’re on top, we’ve got to take them.
“And unfortunately you can’t afford to blink and give them a goal because you get punished if you do.”
He believes Wigan are more likely to grab a play-off place than the Blues but says fifth place may now not be quite as out of reach as it appeared a few weeks ago: “They’ve got two games in hand and more points than we have. We need to beat them really to have any chance of catching them.
“I thought fifth place was out of bounds but it isn’t, we’re only five behind that now. How crazy is that? We’ve hardly been ripping it up and yet we were 10 points behind Nottingham Forest and now we’re only five. It’s just strange. That could continue to the end of the season and who knows where we’ll finish?”
While admitting that reaching the play-offs might be tough if Town don’t take anything from today’s game, he says plenty could still happen between now and the end of the season: “Of course it would but who knows? We could then go and win three on the bounce and they or the other ones above us might lose a couple.
“With 10 games to go I’m not going to say if we don’t get something that it’s dead and buried because it’s always possible in this league.
“We’re capable of winning three on the bounce and with the league the way it is they’re capable of losing a couple or three on the bounce.”
McCarthy has been impressed with new Wigan boss Uwe Rosler but says the biggest boost their promotion push received was their exit from European competition.
“Losing in that Europa Cup, that was probably the best thing that could have happened,” he said. “If someone offered me the chance of playing in the Europa Cup, I’d run a mile in this league with the squads that we’ve got.
“It affects you so much coming back and playing Thursday night away and then Sunday when everybody’s played and they’ve come back knackered.
“It’s so counter-productive when you’re trying to get out of the league it’s untrue. I think that helped him and he’s obviously a good manager.”
McCarthy admired the way Rosler dealt with the disappointment of Brentford missing out on automatic promotion from League One in the final minute of last season.
Bees’ striker Marcello Trotta struck the crossbar with a penalty, Doncaster immediately broke, scored and were promoted as champions, while the West Londoners were consigned to the play-offs, where they lost to Yeovil in the final.
“He did well at Brentford, I thought he handled the disappointment of that day remarkably well,” the Town boss added. “He handled it with a bit of class.
“For a manager that kind of defeat it can make or break you and I think it made him. I thought he handled it really, really well. It was really classy the way he handled it.
“He’s come back, he’s got a bigger job, a better job with a club that’s got a chance of going into the Premier League. I’ve been impressed by him.”
He believes the German boss won’t be expecting an easy afternoon at Portman Road: “All the questions that I’m being asked, I think Uwe will be being asked similar ones: ‘This is a place where you can put a right dent in their play-off hopes and get yourselves right in amongst it and it would be a great win’.
“They’ll all be saying that. We know it’s not an easy place to come to and I know we’ve got a good team, they’re good lads.”
Photo: Action Images
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