McCarthy on ‘magician’ Celina, O’Kane’s red card, beating Leeds, Bialkowski conspiracies and new French signing
PUBLISHED: 18:23 13 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:33 13 January 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy hailed ‘magician’ Bersant Celina for the super strike which secured a 1-0 win against 10-man Leeds United at Portman Road today.
Visiting midfielder Eunan O’Kane was dismissed for an apparent head-butt on Jonas Knudsen in the 37th minute, with Manchester City loanee Celina’s rising 25-yard strike into the top corner, in the 67th minute, proving the difference.
“I thought it was a really tough game against a team that’s in good form and has got good players,” said McCarthy, whose team remain 12th in the Championship table but have closed the gap to the play-off places to four points ahead of next Saturday’s trip to lowly Bolton.
“I haven’t seen the sending off, somebody says he’s head-butted him, and if that’s the case then he deserves to be sent off. That doesn’t make it easy though because they then scrapped away.”
He continued: “We needed a result over and above anything because we’ve just had three defeats on the bounce and we needed to get our fans back onside.
“Their fans were brilliant (Leeds had an increased away ticket allocation of 3,500 that filled the upper tier of the Cobbold Stand) and created an atmosphere that was brilliant to play and manage in. We’ve had to scrap it out. We’ve played well and I’m really pleased.”
On Celina’s wonder strike, he said: “That’s risk and reward. I did say ‘thank goodness you did (score)’ because sometimes he was causing us as many problems as he was them when losing it.
“But that’s Santy – that’s what you get. He does work his socks off. He’s a proper little character on the pitch. He kept trying to stay wide and him and Myles (Kenlock) linked up a bit.
“I said to him and Didzy (David McGoldrick) after the first half that it wasn’t happening for them and that maybe it wasn’t the game for them. Me being me I was having a dig at them. That one bit of magic in the second half wins us the game though and that’s great.
“We kept encouraging him to get the ball and to take them on, but there were a couple of crosses to the far post that went over Dom (Iorfa) and a couple of cut-backs that didn’t come off. That’s him though. It’s not easy to be that magician in a game like that. It’s tough. It wasn’t easy for their good players either. If you can find that one bit that wins you the game then brilliant.
“We had Tom Lawrence (on loan from Leicester) last year and the ‘Wee Man’ Ryan Fraser (on loan from Bournemouth) before that who have managed to produce that sort of thing for us. What we really need is one that’s ours!”
Dean Gerken, who had been out of the squad for the previous seven games with a hip problem, replaced the injured Bartosz Bialkowski in goal today and produced a solid stop from substitute Pierre-Michel Lassoga towards the end to secure the victory
“It’s remarkable really because he hadn’t trained up until the start of this week,” said McCarthy. “But he’s trained really well and I said to him ‘if that’s you injured then I’d like to be injured!’
“He’s been fabulous. Bart’s got a calf strain. To be fair I think he was still hoping he could play, but I told him he wasn’t playing because it was 19 to one – play one game and get injured.
“Gerks has done what he’s always done when he’s played; done well and got a clean sheet.”
With Bialkowski having been linked with a move to Premier League club Crystal Palace at the start of the January transfer window there have been inevitable conspiracy theories about the Polish custodian’s absence today.
“Somebody just reminded me about a quote I gave up at Leeds when we drew 1-1,” said McCarthy. “We’d murdered them and somebody said ‘some people might think that’s two points dropped’ and I said ‘some people can f**k off’. So if some people think Bart was out of the team because he wasn’t injured... similarly, alright! Does answer your question?!”
With Town’s bench including the inexperienced young quartet of Michael Crowe, Chris Smith, Adam McDonnell and Aaron Drinan, McCarthy is attempting to bolster his squad with signings.
He explained: “As always plates are spinning, the same as everyone else, and we’ll see which ones fall on who’s heads. I hope it’s not mine.”
One player who has signed is 19-year-old defender Chris Goteni from Saint-Apollinaire, a side who play in the fifth tier of French football.
“He’s joined us until the end of the season with an option,” said McCarthy. “He came and trained with the first team and did alright. He played in a practice match the other day and was awful, but I’d seen enough in the training.”