‘We don’t set out for 0-0 draw’ - McCarthy reflects on drab home stalemate with Sheffield United
PUBLISHED: 18:38 10 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:57 12 March 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy declared himself pleased with a point following this afternoon’s goalless home draw with Sheffield United.
The Blues, who lacked quality and invention, rarely looked like scoring. The Blades, who had a couple of penalty shouts, came closest to edging an attritional affair when James Wilson’s long-range shot came off the back of the post in the 78th minute and Billy Sharp put the rebound over.
“I thought it was a right royal scrap from two teams who commit themselves to everything they do,” said McCarthy. “Was there a great deal of quality? I’m not sure the pitch gives us ability to have that quality to be honest – either team. It’s not wearing well.
“They locked us down with their three midfield players. It was a bit of scrappy game. A tough, ferocious game.
“They were peppering our penalty area, but not the goal. That requires effort from all the team. I think our back five has been great. I could cite little Santy (Celina) as well, who tracked back and contributed.
“Their centre-halves get on the overlap and it’s bonkers. All my players put a shift in and deserve credit.
“I thought we were good in the first half. Second half they were better than us. I’ll take a 0-0 draw. They can’t take it off us this point.”
Town remain 12th in the Championship table but are now nine points adrift of the play-off places ahead of Tuesday’s game-in-hand against Hull City at Portman Road.
“I’m satisfied (with the draw) because if you’d have asked me probably a month ago when we started playing the games we’ve had... We’ve been unbeaten (two defeats in 10) and kept clean sheets (five in 10). I always take the positives out of it. I’ll leave you guys to take the negatives.”
One of those negatives is that Town have now drawn a blank in four successive home matches. They’ve scored just two in their last eight on Suffolk soil.
“I don’t have the answers for everything,” said McCarthy. “Let’s get Sheffield United here and let’s go gung-ho and create loads of chances, make it an open game and get beat shall we? I’m not really into that. That’s never going to be the case.
“They are a good team, they’ve had two good seasons and have that momentum from coming up. I think they matched us up today and gave us a fair bit of respect.
“Hey, we don’t set out for 0-0 draw. We set out not to concede, but we don’t set out for a 0-0 draw.”
McCarthy, who has seen his relationship with many Town fans sour over the last two years, called upon supporters to get behind their side in the build-up to this game. They certainly responded and tried to encourage the players at every opportunity, even though excitement was at a premium.
“It’s pretty sad that I’m always talking to you about the crowd,” said the Blues boss. “Pretty much over my five-and-a-half years they have been brilliant. They had a little spell when they were getting a bit bored or whatever.
“I don’t know where we are in terms of the play-offs now, but I think we’ve had a pretty good season. I don’t know, maybe they have all realised that.
“I think the majority of the voices have started supporting again rather than the minority who, for some reason, seemed to turn against us.
“They want us to win and I thought they were great today. I thought they were good against Cardiff too.”
Grant Ward, Freddie Sears and Tristan Nydam all remained unused subs today. Luke Hyam replaced Callum Connolly on the hour, while Joe Garner came on for Jordan Spence in the 81st minute. Spence had been brought on himself at half-time for the injured Dominic Iorfa (sore thigh).
Asked if it was difficult to sub a sub, McCarthy said: “Yes, it is. He was different class on Tuesday. I wonder if you think you are ever going to come on as a wing-back. I actually subbed the sub because I wanted to win the game. I wanted a back four and left Waggy, Joe and Bersant up front, still matching them up in midfield. That was my vein attempt to win the game.
“It could be worse (for Spence), he could be injured and not be able to play for six months. Come on, there are worse things. He’s been brilliant. He came here on a free transfer and has been different class.
“I have bad days, we all do. I’ve spoken to him already. You just get on with it. I might need him again on Tuesday night.
“When something goes wrong with a player and they might want to come in on Monday and give me a wet fish handshake, I say what about all the times I did pick you and patted you on the back and gave you a hug and said ‘well done’ and supported you?”