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Friday 20 April 2018

Mick takes aim at 'numbskulls' as Ireland return is possible

PASTURES NEW: Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy will leave Ipswich Town in the summer
PASTURES NEW: Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy will leave Ipswich Town in the summer

Mick McCarthy was just 36-years-old when he was appointed as manager of the Irish national team.

He will be 60 at his next birthday, but don't rule out the prospect of McCarthy coming back into the fold and taking that job for a second time.

It was announced in the last 24 hours that, once this season is over, Mick McCarthy is finished as Ipswich Town manager.

But he's not finished with football and there could even be time for another stint in charge of the Republic of Ireland.

There were few complaints from the Ipswich support when it was made public that McCarthy will end his tenure at Portman Road when the season is over and his contract runs out.

A chunk of that support have been fed up with McCarthy, and his ways, for some time, and some will celebrate his exit. But it's a case of being careful what you wish for. McCarthy leaves Ipswich in a better state than the one he inherited. They have, again, failed to stay in contention for the play-offs and the rest of the season will be a slog of meaningless games.

Yet, do a poll of Sunderland fans as their relegation-bound club hurtles towards the ignominy of League One and ask them if they'd swap places.

McCarthy was even asked yesterday if 'be careful what you wish for' should be a phrase used as Ipswich replace him.

"I don't want to put the fickle finger of fate on anybody, but I left Millwall for Ireland and they ended up getting relegated. I left Sunderland and they got relegated. That was probably a lot of my fault, I had six million quid to spend in the Premier League," he said with a grin.

"And I left Wolves and they went down two divisions. Is it 11 months now, the average tenure of a Championship manager? I've lasted nearly six years. So no, I am not sad, or bitter, or twisted or upset about it. I'm actually quite proud."

Yes, McCarthy was defiant of his record and his regime as he prepares to leave the Ipswich post.

He has been at loggerheads with large sections of the club's support for some time, fans who feel that the team could be challenging for promotion under a younger manager who plays a more pleasing style of football.

His response was typical McCarthy. As he prepares his exit, does he offer an olive branch of PR speak, or speak his mind?

The latter, of course. Previously a fan of the word 'numpties' he used another label, attacking "the numbskulls who have been giving me the abuse".

And he seems relieved that it's over, that he knows he will leave in May and be on his way, his status secure in his own mind, at least.

What's next for Big Mick?

He has rarely been out of work, the longest gap that five-month break in between leaving Ireland in 2002 and taking over at Sunderland. TV stations in the UK love his style, and other jobs in the Championship could come his way. But as for an Ireland return?

It depends. Martin O'Neill has of course, only recently signed a contract which takes him up to 2020. But there are clouds ahead: under O'Neill, Ireland scored two goals in four games against Wales and Denmark; a similar haul in the four clashes due with the two nations in 2018 could signal the end of O'Neill.

The style of play with McCarthy's Ireland side was far more pleasing on the eye than the football played under Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O'Neill, and the pathway to Euro 2020 is softer than the qualification routes McCarthy endured.

"If there's no manager in it, and I'm out of work, and someone asked me to do it, of course I'd do it," he said in 2016 when asked about a second spell with Ireland.

The call could yet come.

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