McCarthy has his work cut out at Portman Road
In all fairness, even Paul Jewell knew that it was time for him to go and the Derby game just sealed it. The senior management at the Club were keen to give PJ 15 games, but in reality the writing was on the wall and delaying the decision only gave him the opportunity to make more desperate decisions and upset the player’s morale further.
N’Daw played well against Brighton. His reward – out of the squad for the next match at home to Cardiff, with new loanee Richie Wellens turning up to get match fitness for Leicester.
Loach had not stood out as the weak point of the defence up until the Cardiff game – one error in that match and he is out of the team, in favour of a new loanee from West Ham, Henderson. Henderson has since shipped 19 goals in 7 matches. Incidentally, Loach had let in 19 goals in the prior 10 matches.
Like a horror film, PJ did reach back from beyond the grave to advise the board to appoint Hutchings as manager, to try to hammer one more nail in the relegation coffin. Fortunately the players put paid to that with a real horror show against Sheffield Wednesday.
Still, the Jewell era is over and the McCarthy era has now begun.
The vast majority of Town fans are pleased with this appointment. Curbishley would have been popular (although he doesn’t seem to be rushing back into management, so maybe would not have the drive required – he turned us down once before as well, apparently).
Holloway obviously would have been a welcome appointment as well, although I am not sure that he would have wanted to take on the challenge and we would have wanted to pay the compensation, not when there are perfectly good Premier League hasbeens available for loan as long as you pay their inflated salaries!
However, there’s no doubt that Mick was the popular choice, and with his success in this division, the rational one too. Will promotion beckon? Are the play-offs a possibility?
In the short term, there is not much that Mick can do with PJ’s squad – he doesn’t know most of the players and you therefore cannot blame him for sticking with the first teamers playing under Jewell for the first few games and the one or two that he was familiar with.
He has made one or two tactical changes, but with the exception of Wellens leaving and Orr coming in at right back, this is pretty much the same side. Barring some spectacular wheeling and dealing in the January transfer window, avoiding relegation will be the only aim for the rest of the season.
Having said that, in terms of points, McCarthy’s start has been good – two wins and two defeats, but six crucial points in just four matches. Jewell managed just seven points in thirteen matches, so this is a vast improvement. Okay, we are hardly going to make the play-offs, but if we can keep this up, then that is solid mid-table form.
The fans are obviously upset about the manner of the defeats and the wins have not been resounding, but if further improvement can be made i.e. winning by more than the odd goal at home and maybe even salvaging some draws away against the teams outside the top 6, then I think we can say that a corner has been turned.
It would help as well, if ref’s didn’t keep gifting penalties to the opposition in away matches (three in ten minutes for heaven’s sake!), although I am not sure this is going to change given the standard of officiating at this level.
I think we’ll keep getting smashed by the top sides until the end of the season, but there is not much that we can do about that with our current squad. Mick should be able to get their confidence levels up at least and that may go some way to fixing the problem. Some players can transform when they have a bit of confidence – let’s hope we have a whole team of them.
So good luck Mick and hopefully we can pull away from the relegation zone and start playing with a side that at least looks coherent and match-fit, in every game. The next home game against Peterborough is a real test, and with a week to prepare for it, I’m sure that Mick can get things together.