McCarthy: A Right Royal Scrap
Saturday, 10th Mar 2018 18:50
Boss Mick McCarthy felt the Blues’ 0-0 stalemate with Sheffield United was a “right royal scrap” lacking in quality with his side having played well in the first half and the visitors on top in the second.
Town were again unable to match their away form when back at Portman Road, where they have now gone four games without scoring.
“I thought it was a right royal scrap from two teams that commit themselves to everything they do,” McCarthy said.
“Was there a great deal of quality? I’m not sure the pitch gives us the ability to have that quality, either team, to be quite honest. It’s not wearing well.
“I thought we were good in the first half, in the second I thought they were better than us, but I’d take a 0-0 draw. You can’t take it off us that point.”
Asked whether he gave credit to his defenders for remaining resolute when the Blades were peppering the penalty area, he said: “They were peppering the penalty area not the goal. That requires effort from all the team. I think the defenders have been great, the back five.
“I could cite Santie, who tracks back always. Their centre-halves go on the overlap, it’s bonkers at times and they all put a shift in so I think they all deserve credit.”
Satisfied with a point? “Yes, because if you’d asked me a month ago when we started playing the games that we’ve had and the games that we’ve been unbeaten in and another clean sheet, I always take the positives out of it, I leave you guys [the media] to take the negatives.”
McCarthy was pleased the crowd stayed behind his team despite the disappointing result unlike other recent home matches.
“They did," he added. "It’s pretty sad that I always end up talking about the crowd. The crowd come to support the team and pretty much over my time five and a half years they’ve been brilliant.
“They’ve had a little bit of a spell where they’ve been bored or whatever. I don’t know where we are off the play-offs but we’ve had a pretty good season and maybe they’ve all realised that and they’ve come and I think the majority of the voices have started to support us again rather than the minority for some reason seemed to turn against us.
“They’ve got to want us to win. I thought they were good today and I thought they were good against Cardiff as well, they were great.”
The Portman Road pitch looks ever more threadbare after a difficult couple of months with the weather having hosted plenty of games, for the U18s in the Youth Cup and U23s as well as the first team.
Asked whether that came into his pre-match instructions with the Blues playing little football throughout, he said: “Well, neither team [did] because it’s not a great pitch at all, it’s in poor shape at the minute. And they locked us down with their three midfield players and it was a bit of a scrappy game but it was a tough, ferocious game.”
While Town picked up another clean sheet they once again failed to score at home, having been more successful on the road in recent games.
“As I said the other day, I don’t have the answers for everything,” he said. “Let’s get Sheffield United here and let’s go gung-ho and let’s create loads of chances, make it an open game and get beat.
“I’m not really into that, that’s never going to be the case. They are a good team, they are a good side, who have had two good seasons and they’ve still got that momentum from coming up.
“I think they matched us up today and gave us a fair bit of respect. We don’t set out for a 0-0 draw. We set out not to concede, but we don’t set out for a 0-0 draw.”
In the second half he substituted Jordan Spence, who had only come on as a sub himself at half-time. A difficult decision to sub a sub? “Yes, it is. He was different class on Tuesday and I wonder if you think you’re ever going to go on as a wing-back, I think they caused them problems.
“I actually subbed the sub because I wanted to try and win the game. I went with the back four and went with Waggy, Joe and Bersant up front and still matched them up in midfield. So, that was in my vain attempt [to win], it ended up in vain but I tried to win the game.”
Does a manager put an arm around a player in those circumstances? “Could be worse, could be injured and couldn’t play for six months. Come on, worse things happen.
“He’s been brilliant, he came here on a free transfer and he’s been different class. But I have bad days, we all do, it just doesn’t work sometimes and I’ve spoken to him already and you get on with it. I might need him again on Tuesday night, he’s been playing.
“I always say, when something goes wrong with players and anybody who wants to come in on a Monday morning shake my hand and give me a piece of wet fish because I’ve taken them off or haven’t picked them, I haven’t done it.
“What about all the times I did pick you, what about all the times I’ve patted you on the back, what about all the times I’ve given you a hug and said, ‘Well done’ and supported you? Sometimes it just happens, you’ve just got to get on with it.”
Spence had replaced Dominic Iorfa, who had gone off at half-time with an injury McCarthy expects to keep him out of Tuesday’s match against Hull City.
“He was injured, he’s got a sore thigh,” he explained. “I would imagine [he’ll be a doubt for Tuesday]. I tell you what I’ll be pretty pissed off if he’s not - if you come off at half-time and you roll out on Tuesday, that doesn’t get you in my good books I can assure you.”
He says Callum Connolly was taken off as he was tiring: “Cal’s been brilliant, he’s had a great season. He had a fair bit of football at Wigan last year, but I don’t think as many as here, certainly not at the intensity he’s had to play at. Just goosed, just took him off.”
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder thought his team should have claimed all three points.
“We should have won that game," he insisted. "They were two honest teams, the wicket wasn’t the best, it’s not been great for a little while.
“But two honest teams going for a result. We’ve had four trips on the bounce away now. The division is uncompromising and relentless. I thought my players in the second half really dug in and were positive in trying to win the game.
“And I think we’ve spurned a couple of golden chances really to win it. I think if we’d have got our noses in front I believe we would have won.”
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