herald

Monday 11 December 2017

time for mac to START ALL OVER AGAIN Leeds may be perfect return but Irish job as beyond him

TIME will never change Mick McCarthy or his circumstances. He will find another club soon and start all over again, even if football management has been cruel to him.

Wolves is just the latest way station on his long and arduous walk and, if it gave him some moments of happiness, Molineux for McCarthy was mostly a protracted confirmation of his position in the great scheme of things.

But he has qualities which appeal to football directors and owners and there will always be one or two out there ready to hire him.

Leeds seem like an obvious match-up if he wants to get back in the saddle straight away. If not Elland Road, somewhere else.

Honest toil, loyalty and the unique team bond he is able to foster wherever he goes will impress his new employers and probably win promotion if, as seems likely, he rejoins the circus in the Championship.

But after a brief celebration, McCarthy will don his survival gear and hunker down if he's lucky enough to find a route back to the Premier League. Before long, he will be in a relegation battle and so on.

A less phlegmatic man would have thrown his hat at it by now and resigned himself to a lucrative life sitting across from Gary Lineker.

Lineker and his mates love Mick and never fail to pat him on the head. His straight talking makes him quote-worthy at all times and a natural for the treacly collegiate nature of BBC's headline football show.

While RTE's pundits still engage the senses and educate, Hansen and Lawrenson dispense smug wisdom while Shearer and Dixon pour forth cliches. McCarthy brings realism, grit and credibility and, presumably, has been signed up by the Beeb for Euro 2012 as the Paddy on the panel.



Homework

After Steve Morgan's decision to pull the plug, McCarthy will have plenty of time to do his homework on Croatia, Italy and Spain.

It never ceases to amaze how football can spin in any and all directions in the blink of an eye.

Any number of alternate universes swirl around McCarthy's head and plenty of them could have played out in his favour. What if?

What if he had given Robbie Keane a go in the Brussels play-off for France 98 or chosen Dubai as a half-way house on the road to Izumo.

What if he came upon Sunderland when the club wasn't a basket case or Wolves had an oil magnate in the owners' chair? What, if just once, he was able to afford any player he wanted and a team to match his football vision.

Would it still end in tears and a sideline shot of Mick's gaunt face, raddled by disappointment and resignation? Almost certainly.

Mick wants to manage Ireland again and believes that he would be better equipped to do that now than he was back in the day.

There was a moment just after Russia battered Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland in Lansdowne Road -- when qualification for Poland and Ukraine seemed like a tall order indeed -- when McCarthy looked like he might get his wish.

But the dice fell for Trap and he has another two years in the bag. In quieter moments, Mick might have daydreamed and wondered about a summer in another exotic location, but if Ireland do make the joyful trip to Brazil in two years' time, an Italian will guide the way.

The idea of another two years labouring under Mick's furrowed brow doesn't appeal to the soul but it has to be said, the football that Ireland played under his management was an order of magnitude more entertaining than what's on offer at the moment.

Still, too much baggage, too many old wounds. In two years' time, the FAI will have many more options and some of them Irishmen with Premier League experience.

Brendan Rodgers, Chris Hughton, Martin O'Neill (if he hasn't moved onto to a better place).

Pat Fenlon is carving his own route to the top of the management tree and, who knows by the time Trap steps down, he might be the hottest management ticket in the Scottish Premier League.

Better to look forward than back.

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