Spence: My Respect For Mick and TC Couldn’t Be Any Greater
Thursday, 12th Apr 2018 17:37
Town defender Jordan Spence has expressed his gratitude to former boss Mick McCarthy and his assistant Terry Connor following their departures from Portman Road following Tuesday’s 1-0 home defeat of relegation-threatened Barnsley.
Spence was without a club after leaving MK Dons at the end of the 2015/16 season and it was after being offered a chance to train with Town earlier that season that McCarthy decided to reward him with a contract in January last year.
That took him through to the end of the season when he accepted the club’s offer of a two-year deal due to expire in the summer of 2019.
The versatile 27-year-old defender said: “I think I’m on record as saying a couple of times how grateful I am to Mick. He gave me an opportunity and I’d like to think in some ways that I’ve paid him back by doing my job and doing what has been expected of me.
“I feel I’ve improved as a footballer after taking on board what both he and, obviously, TC have done and I feel genuinely better for it.
“I think the respect that I have for him and TC couldn’t be any greater. Even if you’re on the outside looking in you would be able to sense that the attitude from the players towards the manager was always positive.
“I’m sure he doesn’t have any doubts about how appreciated he was by all of us. All he ever asked of us was that we went out and gave everything – and as long as he saw that he was happy.”
Spence believes McCarthy will continue in the game when the right opportunity comes along to add to his 26 years as a manager with Millwall, the Republic of Ireland, Sunderland, Wolves and, of course, Town.
“I’d like to think he will return as a manager and I also hope he does,” he added. “I think we’d all like an opportunity to pit our wits against him and for him to find a job where he’s happy and in a good working environment.”
As Marcus Evans begins the search for McCarthy’s successor, Spence was asked if the Town players ever hear from the club’s reclusive owner. He replied: “I haven’t personally and you’d have to ask the other boys whether or not they have. Everybody wants to know what’s going on but he’s got a lot more things to consider and I don’t know where speaking to the players comes on the priority list.
“I’m sure there are a lot of things to go through and certain decisions that have to be made, and I would think he only wants us to concentrate on playing and trying to do as well as we can.”
Was it an unsettling time for the players? Spence said: “As humans we crave comfort and stability, but I didn’t have a job for six months and didn’t know where I was going to be playing.
“I know that if I do what I’m capable of doing I’ll be good for anyone who walks through the door. When that time comes we’ll take it from there.”
McCarthy’s ongoing spat with a section of the club’s support, together with the perceived lack of entertainment on offer, hastened his departure.
Spence added: “From my position it’s about playing football. I’ve been in a lot more precarious situations than this. We had a very good first half of the season, a slightly disappointing second half and there are probably another 12 teams below us who would like to trade positions with us.
“We’ve just got to be as good as we can be. I try to stay away from social media and the forum of public opinion, and concentrate on what I can control.
“Part of that is to understand and listen to the people who have key roles – management, coaching staff, mentors and team-mates – but outside of these four walls I think it is important that you have a gate at the front and you are careful what you let in and what you don’t.
“I don’t really know what the consensus is in terms of percentages but there have been some really uncomfortable occasions at Portman Road and you would be a liar if you said you hadn’t noticed that.
“However, I’d like to think that they have come about because fans want to see us do well, just as much as we want to do well.
“At Brentford on Saturday we were leaving the field at the full-time whistle and although the fans were close it was still difficult to know if they were airing their grievances at the gaffer or at the players – or both.
“It’s more noticeable at a ground like Brentford because you walk past the away section on your way to the dressing rooms.
“However, the fans were really good during the game and we felt that with the momentum we had we were going to push for an equaliser.
“I was exasperated at the end that we hadn’t managed to get a goal and I wasn’t a particularly nice person to be around in the dressing room afterwards. It was obvious that the manager was receiving some attention from the fans.”
Spence was full of praise for Irish teenager Barry Cotter, who was handed a debut by McCarthy and excelled until tiredness necessitated his withdrawal early in the second half.
“It was really good, wasn’t it?” said Spence. “It was so exciting to watch at close quarters and I enjoyed the way he took to it. He’s full of beans and a few of the boys were saying he’s settled quicker than snow, which is great.
“He’s a great character and it was a fantastic performance from him, although anyone who had seen him in training wouldn’t have been surprised.
“The manager obviously spotted it, signed him and has now given him his first team chance. He did exactly what he would have wanted to do on his debut and what he probably dreamt about doing when he got the opportunity.
“It was great to see and apart from being a great lad he obviously has bags of potential.”
Cotter’s emergence increases the competition for places at right-back or right wing-back, which could intensify further next season if Josh Emmanuel returns from his loan spell at Rotherham.
Spence said: “I haven’t thought far ahead yet but competition for places is always good. If you’re in a place where your shirt isn’t under threat then you’re either not playing at a particularly high level or you’re Messi or Ronaldo.”
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