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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.”

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essexboy added 07:10 - Mar 15
Really,the season should not just come down to these four games,looking at all the points we have thrown away we could by now have been tucked away quite safely in the top six.Positional changes and a lack of pace and vision in midfield have let us down.As much as I admire MM for what he has achieved on a shoe string I do think some of his decisions have been wrong.Nevertheless I am a life long fan and always will be whatever the outcome.THREE points today please.COYB.

muccletonjoe added 07:14 - Mar 15
A few factors have to go our way over the next few games. Firstly it would be nice to play one of the top 6 on an off day. We have played well against most of them but the opposition has been bang on playing against us almost without exception. Secondly we need sylvan to hit goalscoring mode in a big way , and become the replacement for mcgoldrick. Thirdly we need defensive mistakes to be absent untill april. If we get all that then it really could be springtime again at portman road.

theobald1985 added 07:28 - Mar 15
really? played well against the top teams? the results have not been that bad i suppose but we have played 4 defensive midfielders and humped the ball up the field -thats hardly playing well to my mind. i wonder where we could be if we had been more positve and expansive. everytime we lump it up we risk losing the ball and create work for ourselvers. would love to see mick go for it and play on the deck with proper wingers for these 4 games-after all we would have to adapt to play like that if we did get to the premier league. hoping for a good performance today please and hopefully 3 points will come with it COYB

Surco72 added 07:57 - Mar 15
It doesn't matter if you only lose by the odd goal against top teams if all we do is set out to try and prevent a hammering MM , its still 0 points

warktheline added 09:22 - Mar 15
Firstly, I'm happy this season because we are talking about the next 4 games as make or break to our sure beats looking into the abyss. Many on here would swap this opportunity for change of manager and style of play...horses for courses is my answer to that.
Secondly, if personnel circumstances had been different this season, I believe Mick would of adjusted playing formation. Up top we've depended heavily upon one player. If SEB had joined us earlier and had been fit, then who knows where the combination could have taken us. The midfield has lacked that touch of class. JW, if we can keep him until end of season, will solve this problem, and defensively, Stearman was a huge loss.
Thirdly ,there is no doubt Mick has and can attract decent players to the club. We as a club on the field are in much better shape than 18 months ago. The team is no longer filled with loan players, and these boys playing at present, play for the shirt and manager. I can only see the team getting stronger under this management. Top 6 maybe a big ask this season, but next season if this trend continues and we keep consistent with personnel, with two or three additions, we will undoubtedly be top 6 material.

StuartBrett8 added 09:24 - Mar 15
I can accept being beaten by a better team, I don't like negative tactics and players in the wrong position. On the plus side MM seems to realise we need to be more attacking and has changed the system to utilise our wingers.... hoping for a sneaky 1-0 win today but would take a draw right now :)

alfromcol added 09:41 - Mar 15
much better than last season where we were looking at the next 4 games to avoid relegation. Get real people, progress has been made, more of this progress next season and we are certain to be in the play-offs.

Garv added 10:07 - Mar 15
Brentford lost to Yeovil in the final.

Mick sets pretty low standards for performances doesn't he?

warktheline added 10:36 - Mar 15
Garv, its the whole picture of the tail end of their season. That penalty miss cost them auto promotion, on top of that, Donny broke and scored with final kick of game, sending them up auto. Hardly surprising they missed out in play-offs. Even in the Yeovil game they dominated game for 70 mins and done all but scored.

oddball added 11:08 - Mar 15
Do u lot ever stop moaning. Its all fun fun fun with u lot.

StuartBrett8 added 11:12 - Mar 15
not sure why I got downvoted?

nutter added 13:09 - Mar 15
neither am i stuartbrett8. only bit i disagree with is taking a draw. to have any chance we have to be agressive at home imo

StuartBrett8 added 14:05 - Mar 15
Going 4411 today, solid at the back two wingers to defensive midfielders and Williams behind Murphy going forward. Good line up in my opinion

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