McCarthy: It's Not About Possession, It's About What You Do With It
Friday, 8th Dec 2017 14:40
Town boss Mick McCarthy says it’s not possession that wins you games but what you do with the ball when you have it.
The Blues are seventh in the table, two points off the play-offs and are the division’s second-top scorers on 35, six behind leaders Wolves, but even when they win the stats show the opposition have usually had the greater share of the ball.
But McCarthy has no problem with his side having employed a counter-attacking approach, something he says they have needed to do at times.
“We’ve had to play a bit that way, to be honest with you,” he reflected. “We can’t go and press up the pitch all the time for 90 minutes every game. And if you can’t do that then if you have to retreat and be solid then that’s what we’ve done. And it has given us rich rewards.
"And I’ve never been the one that needs to have 500 passes anyway. I always remember someone asking me about that because I’d said to the players that we’d had too many passes and, of course, Tabby said [to the media] the gaffer says we pass the ball too much, which wasn’t what I said, wasn’t what I meant, and he knew that and he didn’t mean that.
“But, of course, it was taken out of context last year when we weren’t playing well. It is what you do with it.
“You know who have made the fewest passes in the league? Cardiff. It’s what you do with it, how many times you put the ball in the net.
“It looks great when it’s working but there’s more than one way to skin a cat for me and I think if you can do a bit of both then so be it, because I think we’ve kept the ball better, despite having not as many passes as the opposition, certainly last weekend.
“When we’ve had it, we’ve kept it and we’ve punished teams with it, which is the main thing. Last weekend I think the two [Nottingham Forest] centre-backs had 111 passes more than our two. I didn’t see either of them shooting or crossing, to be quite honest with you.”
He added: “When it works it’s good, when it doesn’t, if you concede one and you end up conceding three, you look a right bunch of chumps. I don’t want that to happen. But we haven’t looked like that either.
“And even despite that, when we’ve had to defend we’ve still looked a threat at the other end.”
He says they’ll be looking to do to Boro on Saturday what they’ve done to other sides this season: “We’ll approach it exactly the same. We’ve tried to stop every team we’ve played against by pushing up, making them kick it and stopping them playing.
“But at some stage in the game they’ll get good possession and if you want to go and press them, if you don’t press them together you’ll get played round, played through, so we’ll approach it pretty much the same way.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy is pleased loanee Bersant Celina feels the team spirit at Town is as good as at anywhere he’s played.
“It’s just as good as it’s always been,” he continued. “There have been one or two pains in the backside along the way that we’ve had to eliminate and get out, but in the main it’s been fabulous.”
McCarthy is also happy to see Emyr Huws making an impression having returned from his achilles injury, although points out that other players did well in his absence.
“Everybody knows what a good player he is and what a benefit he would be to the team,” he said. “But likewise, players who have come in have played really well. Have we missed him? Not really because there have been such good performances.
“But you don’t want anybody with his quality sitting out, certainly being injured. And you can see what he brings to the team when he comes back, he really does have quality.”
Despite the Welshman’s long spell out, McCarthy says he’s no concerns about the former Cardiff an suffering a recurrence of the problem, however, he is aware that he has to be managed properly as he gets fully up to speed.
“I’ve got no anxieties about him,” he added. “My concerns are always that players want to stay on the pitch and you can see that suddenly they’re not getting to the ball up the front and they’re not just getting to the ball at the back, they’re somewhere in between.
“Most players, the good pros don’t want to come off and they keep going and keep going and actually that’s not conducive to being a good pro. If you start to get knackered and start to struggle you really should say, ‘Look..’.
“But nobody likes doing it. And I would have been exactly the same, so it’s up to the manager and physio and fitness coaches to say, ‘Look, he needs to come off’. So that’s what’s happened.”
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