|Ipswich Town 5 v 2 Sunderland|
Tuesday, 26th September 2017 Kick-off 19:45
McCarthy Looking for Repeat of Leeds Performance Against Sunderland But With a Better Result
Monday, 25th Sep 2017 21:55
Town boss Mick McCarthy is hoping his side can replicate Saturday’s performance at Leeds but with a better result when they take on third-bottom Sunderland at Portman Road on Tuesday night.
Asked whether he take a repeat of the display at Elland Road if not the three goals which his side conceded, he said: “All day long, of course. I thought the performance was excellent and it's a kind of bizarre feeling because you come away feeling that we’ve played well and I think the reaction of the fans to the players coming off tells you that.
“That’s great if we can replicate that, which we’ve got to do now, that’s the standard we’ve set.
“But then it’s even more disappointing because we did play so well, we had enough chances, we had enough of the game, it makes it even worse that we didn’t get anything out of the game.
“If you go and play at Elland Road like that and score two goals, you should be getting something. We’re not likely to score four against the leaders to win a game.
“But the nature of the third goal was bizarre when all’s said and done. And Bart knows, it’s just one of those things. It can’t be helped, we all forgive him, let’s get on with it and concentrate on Sunderland.”
McCarthy has no problem with fans demanding that level of performance week after week: “I don’t think they ever get any less effort than that, that’s not the case but it was the manner of the display, especially having gone behind twice.
"We took the game to Leeds and passed it really well and played some good football.
“So, I enjoyed it far more as well. I didn’t enjoy the result but I did come away feeling somewhat better about how we played and thinking, ‘If that’s what we can produce, then it’s got to happen more often’.”
He added: “If that’s the standard we’ll win games. I was really pleased with the performance.
“I always [take the positives] whatever we do, wherever we play. My last words to them on Saturday were, ‘All right, we’ve given goals away, we scored two away against the leaders, we had them by the scruff of the neck for about 30 minutes in that second half’.
“I was proud of the performance and I said, ‘I’m proud of you guys and you should be as well. But, there’s no point in playing that well and getting beaten’.”
He says he’d like his team to start Tuesday’s match in the manner of that second-half 30 minutes at Leeds.
“I don’t think we started badly on Saturday, I’ve watched it again,” he reflected. “The first goal was awful, right through the meat of us with one pass and one run. That should never have happened.
“And they had possession but they weren’t really hurting us in that first 11 minutes. What pleased me was the response, how we got back in the game and then took the game to them.
“But it was a crazy goal we gave away again, a great finish by them, I might add, but we could have avoided it.
“And then we took the game and I think they were surprised in the second half how well we played.
“I’d like to, but it’s not always easy. And, strangely enough, goals either way change momentum sometimes.
“They scored against us and we had to roll our sleeves up, and we did. Of course, I’d like to get the game by the scruff of the neck from the start.”
The Blues, who dropped to seventh following Sheffield United’s 4-2 Steel City derby victory over Wednesday on Sunday, now have two home games in five days which the Town boss says are important fixtures for his side.
“They’re big games for us,” he continued. “You only get a bit of kudos for playing well and losing if you go on and win your next game, and that’s Sunderland at home.
“I’m not even thinking about Bristol City on Saturday, let’s deal with this one. This is a big game for us.”
McCarthy says he thoroughly enjoyed his time as Sunderland boss: “How do I look back on my time there? With fading memories as it was 11 years ago, I have to be honest. But with good memories, I’ve nothing but fond memories of it.
“I wouldn’t say from start to finish because I lost my first 11 games there, nine in the Premier League.
“I think they were bonkers thinking I could keep them up and I was even more bonkers thinking I could as well.
“But you go into the job and you think you’re going to win the first game. We didn’t. But we did finish third [in the Championship his first full season] and we were in the semi-final of the FA Cup and we had a good season and won the Championship the following season.
“But I get what Simon Grayson is going through, it’s tough. You’ve got to get a foothold somewhere and they’ll be looking for that down here.
“It was great, I loved my time there, every single bit of it. I bought a place up there, I lived up there, I had three very happy years.”
Does he feel he’s changed much in the intervening years? “I’ve got older, I’ve lost more hair! I’m a vastly more experienced manager, that’s for sure.
“I don’t think it’s changed me, I think it’s helped me, it’s given me some more experiences since being with Sunderland.
“I’m a bit older, I’ve a bit more perspective on life and on football in general, I think. But the whole experience of doing it at the Stadium of Light was fab, the big crowds, getting into the Premier League.
“I don’t think I have changed, no. I’ve learnt stuff, I’d like to think I’m better than I was. Personality-wise I haven’t changed.”
McCarthy says central to football in the North-East is the rivalry between the Black Cats and Newcastle United: “It's Sunderland and Newcastle. It’s not Boro and Sunderland, it’s not Boro and Newcastle.
“They’re derbies [with Middlesbrough] because they’re there, but the real rivalry is Sunderland versus Newcastle. And it is a real hotbed, but they don’t like their football any more than they do down here, believe me. There’s just more.
“And they seem to have been bigger clubs, who have got bigger stadiums. All right, so we’ve got Ipswich and Norwich and it’ll probably get pooh-poohed by the Sunderland and Newcastle fans because everybody thinks their derby is the big game.
“But if you’re not winning, people don’t come to the game. If you’re not winning, people start giving out to you. Whether that’s here at Ipswich or whether you’re at Sunderland.
“And believe me, it’s not nice at either place if you’re not winning. You’ve got to be winning games, you’ve got to be doing well otherwise the atmosphere’s not good and it’s hard to work in.”
Having taken over at the Stadium of Light in similar circumstances, McCarthy has sympathy with the situation Simon Grayson took on when he was named Sunderland manager in the summer.
“It’s always funny when you say, ‘I really wish him well, he’s a mate of mine’,” he added. “He knows I’m not going to give any quarter here and I’m not asking for any from him, and we’ll shake hands and have a beer from him whatever the result.
“But I do wish him well because I think he’s one of the good football guys. I know Alex Neil’s doing well at Preston, I think he inherited [a good squad].
“Simon got the Sunderland job on the back of the job he did at Preston, how well he did at Preston, how competitive they were and the football they played. Alex has gone there and he’s continued the good work.
“Simon’s had to go to a club which has just been used to losing and spiralling downwards and it’s bloody hard to change that.
“And, of course, I’ll say it again, I don’t want him to change it tomorrow night, but I do wish him well, him and Snods [assistant manager Glynn Snodin], they’re really good guys.”
Sunderland have got off to a slow start following their relegation from the Premier League in May, having won only once this season in the Championship - away at Norwich City - and they are without a win in their last seven league games. Bizarrely, they’ve also not won league game in September since 2012.
Does McCarthy believe Grayson will turn it around? “I hope so. I haven’t been watching them, I haven’t seen them, I only see the results, I’ve got my own problems and my own things to think about. I don’t know whether he will or he won’t, but I hope he does, I sincerely hope he does.”
The Town boss says it is difficult to acclimatise to the Championship after relegation from the top flight.
“It is,” he added. “Hull and Middlesbrough also came down. How well are they doing? Middlesbrough spent fortunes and I think they’re a really good side, what I’ve seen of them.
“I don’t know with the others. It’s tough, it really is. And I think at the end of it Middlesbrough probably had a better season than Sunderland did as well, they seemed to finish with a bit more of a flourish than Sunderland did.
“And they’ve gone and spent a load of money. They’ve changed the manager, they’ve spent shedloads of money. I think they’ve got a good feel about the place. I’m not convinced that’s the case with the club at Sunderland. If you don’t get instant results people will turn against you and it is incredibly hard then.”
Turning to his own team, McCarthy says he is considering freshening up his side with the Blues having three games in eight days and he is pleased to have strength in depth in some areas of his squad as players return from illness and injury.
"And in attacking areas as well, to be able to freshen things up at times and have a bit of a spark in somebody’s eye that’s on the pitch,” he said. “That’s nice, but despite losing at Leeds we still scored a couple of goals.”
Bartosz Bialkowski will continue in goal, while the back four is also likely to be unchanged with Dominic Iorfa at right-back, Jonas Knudsen on the left and skipper Luke Chambers joined by Jordan Spence in the centre.
In midfield, McCarthy may start with the same four that began the game at Leeds, although perhaps in the narrow system the Blues moved to at half-time with Cole Skuse behind Tom Adeyemi, Tristan Nydam and Grant Ward.
With Nydam having played full games at Nottingham Forest for the U23s last Tuesday and at Leeds, the 17-year-old seems likely to make way at some point in the second half with Kevin Bru, who the Town boss has confirmed will be on the bench for the first time this season, perhaps the man replacing him. Bru has been handed the number 28 shirt.
Although McCarthy has said Martyn Waghorn is in with a chance of starting, he may opt to stick with the David McGoldrick-Joe Garner partnership from the beginning, both of them having scored at Leeds.
If that’s the case Waghorn, Freddie Sears and Bersant Celina will all be hoping to play a part from the bench and then perhaps start against Bristol City at Portman Road on Saturday.
Sunderland will assess ex-Blues loanee Jonny Williams and former Wigan and West Brom winger Callum McManaman ahead of the game, the duo having missed Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Cardiff due to illness and injury respectively.
Winger Duncan Watmore could be in the Black Cats squad having played for their U23s on Sunday as he makes his comeback from injury, but is an unlikely starter.
Wearsiders boss Grayson, who has never won a match at Portman Road as a manager in seven attempts, says he has a lot of time for his Town counterpart.
”I am a big admirer of Mick and a good friend of his. Last year he was getting criticism but he just overrides it and gets on with his job,” he told the Sunderland Echo.
“There is no more experienced manager in this division than him, I am full of respect for him. Let’s go there and put on a performance and we can get our season going again.”
Asked to reassure fans worried by their club’s current travails, he added: "Anybody who has seen the last couple of performances have seen we are doing OK but it hasn't been good enough to get results. We have to do better.
"Players have to take responsibility. Can I guarantee we won't go down? Nobody can guarantee nothing will happen like that but there is a long way to go.
“We have 37 games to go, with key players back and a few results suddenly it can look a lot more positive.
"That is what we are concentrating on. We all care about the club. Nothing is won or lost in September.”
Historically, the sides are very evenly matched with Town having won 21 of the games between the teams (21 in the league) and Sunderland 20 (18) with seven (seven) having ended in draws.
Town last faced the Black Cats back in January 2007 at the Stadium of Light, where they are still to record their first win, when David Connolly's 13th-minute goal was enough to give the home side a 1-0 victory over Jim Magilton’s Blues.
Despite enjoying a lot of possession, particularly in the second half, Town were unable to get back on terms, with the best chance falling to sub Danny Haynes.
In the preceding September the Blues had won the Portman Road fixture 3-1. Alan Lee scored twice as Town came from behind to defeat Roy Keane's promotion-bound Sunderland side.
Lee's goals came after the break, Jason de Vos's inexplicable own goal having been equalised by Darren Currie's freekick in the first half.
Town boss McCarthy was manager at the Stadium of Light between March 2003 and March 2006, taking them to Championship title in 2004/05.
During his time with the Black Cats McCarthy’s record reads, played 147, won 63, drew 26 and lost 58, a win percentage of 42.9.
Blues striker Waghorn was born in South Shields and came through the ranks at Sunderland, making three starts and five sub appearances before moving on to Leicester for £3 million in August 2011 following a successful loan spell.
On-loan Crystal Palace man Williams is the only player with Sunderland to have represented the Blues.
The Welshman made 16 starts and 12 sub appearances in four loan spells at Portman Road, scoring two goals.
Tuesday’s referee is Darren Bond from Lancashire, who has shown 39 yellow cards and one red in 11 games so far this season.
Bond’s most recent Town match was the 2-1 defeat at Birmingham in December last year in which he booked Blues skipper Chambers and Christophe Berra.
Before that he took control of the 2-2 home draw with Rotherham a couple of months earlier in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Prior to that he refereed the 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough in April of the same year in which he cautioned Luke Hyam and former Blues skipper Grant Leadbitter.
He also officiated in the 1-0 win at Huddersfield in February 2016 in which he yellow-carded Chambers, Brett Pitman and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as well as one home player.
He also refereed the dramatic last-gasp 1-0 victory at Charlton in November 2014 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Two months before that he officiated in the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday when he booked only two home players, while his only other match involving the Blues was the 2-2 draw at Barnsley in February of the same year in which he again showed no cards.
Probable squad: Bialkowski, Gerken, Spence, Iorfa, Knudsen, Kenlock, Connolly, Chambers, Woolfenden, Skuse, Adeyemi, Bru, Nydam, Ward, Celina, Garner, Sears, McGoldrick, Waghorn.
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