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Mick has to make impact

Managing in Cyprus will be no sun holiday for McCarthy

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NEW JOB: Mick McCarthy is back in work

NEW JOB: Mick McCarthy is back in work

SPORTSFILE

NEW JOB: Mick McCarthy is back in work

It's one of the proudest boasts from the Mick McCarthy camp, that the unfashionable yet still popular man from Barnsley has never been out of work for too long. 

That's been proven to be true yet again as, only six months after his time as Ireland manager was ended, not by his choice, McCarthy is back on the touchline, confirmed yesterday as the new boss of Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia.

How long he stays in the job is entirely another matter as the track record of the club, and also the experiences of the last Irishman to manage on that sun-kissed island, would not suggest that this will be a long-term project.

McCarthy is the club's third manager in 11 months and their 11th in just five years. In that time, APOEL have tried (deep breath here) a German, a Portuguese, a Georgian, a Dane, a Dutchman, a Greek, another Portuguese, an Italian, another German, a Norwegian and now an Irishman.

McCarthy is the second ex-international from Ireland to manage there. Ronnie Whelan's two stints in management in Cyprus (1999-2001) were head-spinning, and scarring. "I got the club into Europe and then got sacked," Whelan says of his first club there, Olympiakos Nicosia. "It came to a head when I had to get a police escort to my car after every game."

Appointed manager of Apollon Limassol, he left after just five games and, in what is hopefully not an omen for McCarthy's future prospects, Whelan never managed again. "I decided to resign from Apollon after we lost an away game and I needed a police escort to get to my car. I'm not interested in coaching a club where fans could behave so stupidly," Whelan said soon after his exit.

Things have calmed somewhat in 19 years and coaches no longer flee from Cyprus fearing for their safety. But McCarthy is about to find out that coaching in Cyprus is no holiday. He takes over a club with a strong tradition and big ambitions - Cillian Sheridan was in the squad when they made the Champions League group stages in 2014, and only last season APOEL came out of their group in the Europa League to make the knockout stages.

Ambitions

Clubs like APOEL have big ambitions but little patience and have very demanding owners: having guided them to the league title, Italian coach Paolo Tramezzani was sacked last year for the crime of losing to Qarabag in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying round. His successor, Thomas Doll, found that guiding APOEL out of the Europa League group stage and into the knockout round was not enough to avoid the sack. The one who followed Doll, Kare Ingebrigtsen, lasted seven weeks.

So McCarthy, whose shortest spell in club management was the three years he had at Sunderland, is in for a rough ride. "This will have the same outcome as always happens here," one long-time observer of the Cypriot game told this newspaper yesterday, after McCarthy's arrival was confirmed.

"An immediate upturn in results followed by a sacking, probably around Christmas when things turn sour again. Anything other than that will be a surprise. If McCarthy doesn't make an instant impression, he'll be gone very quickly."

League form demands an upturn: APOEL are fourth from bottom but they simply need to be in the top half when the Cypriot league splits into a championship/relegation system in February.

When he was at Ipswich, McCarthy's feat of merely having them in contention for the promotion play-offs in the Championship was hailed as a success. McCarthy is about to find out, the hard way, that Cypriot club owners and supporters have ​​​​​​​very little patience.


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