McCarthy on forcing the issue with Evans, his legacy, ‘numbskull’ fans and not being forced out - the full transcript
PUBLISHED: 15:55 29 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:48 29 March 2018
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy spoke to the media this lunchtime after it was revealed he will leave in the summer. Here’s the full transcript.
Q: Mick, now the decision’s been made and you’ve slept on it, how would you sum up your emotions?
MM: I’m ok, I’m alright. I’m kind of a bit relieved that it’s done and now everybody knows and sort of excited now for the future and something else because no doubt I will go on and manage another club. I hope it will.
Q: Did you expect it to come to a head when you met Marcus on Wednesday night? Did you expect the outcome there and then?
MM: Oh I expected I knew it was coming to a head, I forced the issue, I asked to go and see him. It’s been going on long enough, it needed to be sorted for me, my family, for the club, for Marcus and I guess for my family and my missus who are long and weary. Especially this season, other than that it’s only been this season, and we needed to know.
“So that’s why I asked to go and see him.
Q: So it was your decision. Do you think Marcus wanted you to stay on?
MM: It never got to that discussion. We both had our say on what we thought and it really never got to that in terms of asking for a contract or offering a contract. It’s come to a head, we’ve let it finish it’s natural end and that’s where we’re at.
I’m cool with that.
Q: Was he disappointed? He’s always been a big supporter and a big fan of yours.
MM: Yes and he still is, of course. I guess both us are happy the decision’s been made and maybe both of us are a little disappointed as well that it’s come to this. The club has to move on and so do I.
Q: You mentioned your family. Are they relieved? They must have know how you’ve been through the ringer and work 24/7 in this job.
MM: Fiona, my wife, at times has said to me ‘Mick, why don’t you just pack it in. Why are you taking that kind of abuse?’ But no chance, I was never going to pack it in and she knew so we wouldn’t fall out over it. She has an opinion and I have an opinion.
Q: Is this the first time you’ve considered leaving Ipswich Town in your time here? You’ve had some highs and you’ve had some lows over your last five years.
MM: Yeah, I’m leaving and my contract is coming to an end. That’s where it’s at and it’s kind of a natural end. And I think everything has its cycle and it’s just run its time.
Q: Why now in particular? Why did you want to move on from Ipswich Town now? You didn’t feel like you had it in your to have another season or two and kick on again?
MM: My decision now, and it’s both Marcus and my decision, not just me, is because it’s the right time. Come on, you’ve been to the games, it’s the right time. I’ve done my stint here and I’ve done a bloomin’ good stint here and all by the way.
“I think it’s time for someone else to have a go.
Q: Your relationship with the fans, did that play a big part in it?
MM: No, not really. If I’d sat down with Marcus and everything had been how I wanted it and how he wanted it then I could still walk out and do the job because a small section of fans are not going to drive me out. Come on, it began it Brentford away nearly two years ago.
I’ve continued to do my job, done it professionally and done it with my head up and done a good job.
Q: How do you look back on your achievements during your five-and-a-half years here? Proud?
MM: Absolutely, certainly from coming in when we, the club had seven points from 13 games and looked as if we were going to go out of the league. I think we ended up with 54 points that year. That was a lot of points to stay up.
I think we made progress that year. We sell players, Tyrone Mings, Murph and different people and we go out and try our best to scout and get the best we can get.
We had a tough time last season and this season has been a bit mixed. We’ve had some good, we’ve had some bad and we’ve had some pretty indifferent.
Q: Do you think you’ve got the respect you deserved? Should you have banked more from 2012/13 and then the year you got Town into the play-offs?
MM: I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the numbskulls who have been giving me the abuse. I think that’s what they are to be quite honest. It’s not everybody and that comment is for the people who have been doing it and, I think, ruining games at Portman Road and making it a hard place to play.
You will have to ask them and they probably don’t give too many people respect, let alone the manager.
Q: How disappointed are you that you didn’t kick on after 2014/15 after going so close?
MM: Yeah, well that would have been nice but perhaps we would have had to invest in the team and get other players in, but we were still on the same remit of getting players in on frees and Bosmans and loans and we just didn’t get the chance I guess.
Q: Should that have changed? ‘You have been managing with the handbreak on’ is what your supporters always say ‘we have a good manager here and we should have given him money’.
MM: Yeah and I tell you every time don’t I – I get the job and I do it, whatever the remit is, to the best of my ability and that’s what I’ve done.
Let’s hope somebody else gives me the opportunity and I can do a good job elsewhere.
Q: Eight games still to go, so how hard is it going to be to focus on those?
MM: I was driving up the A12 at 5am this morning and I thought ‘what the hell am I doing driving up here’. But I had to come and tell everybody of course.
“Maybe I might be thinking that again at some stage but the lads have trained today and I said ‘I’m still going to be barking at you so don’t think we can all down tools’,
Jonas Knudsen wants to get in the Denmark squad for the World Cup and Bartosz who has been in the Polish squad and wants to play. We have some young lads in the squad.
The older pros like your Chambos, your Skuseys and Waggy are great lads. It might get to them a little bit but I think they will get back at it. If they want to show their disappointment to anybody then do it by playing well and seeing if we can get in that top 10.
Q: You must feel like you are leaving the club in a more healthy position than the one your inherited, back in November 2012?
MM: Oh I’d say so. There are a few teams in that bottom three who would take my position at the minute and even in the bottom six, seven or eight who have certainly got bigger budgets and more funds than we have and have come down from the Premier League.
I inherited a club with seven points, so yeah.
Q: You clearly feel you have more jobs in you, maybe after a break at the end of the season?
MM: Oh for sure. That is not in doubt at all, wherever that should come up. If it comes up in the summer then fine, I’m ready to go, but if it comes up in October or November during silly season, when somebody wants a safe pair of hands, then I’m ready.
Q: You haven’t had anybody in touch already, have you?
MM: If they had, I wouldn’t tell you.
Q: Is this a job in a million, in this day and age? The fact that Marcus has given you so much time and has done that with previous managers? I think the average tenure is 13 months in this division.
MM: I think it was a bit of a heavy heart from both of us last night when we were talking about it. He’s given me time and I’ve been doing a good job. I think he recognises that and appreciates it. That’s why I’ve been given time.
When you say I’ve been given time it’s like a suggestion I’ve been hanging on, but that’s not the case.
Q: Some chairmen do get rid though, don’t they, far too soon arguably. That’s never been the case here.
MM: No I think he’s been very good to all the managers who have been here. We’ve talked about this before – at some other clubs how many managers they’ve had while I’ve been here. It’s not made them any better.
Q: Have you learnt in your time here? You came here as a very experienced manager who has managed at the very highest level, but have you still learnt and changed, developed in your time here?
MM: I always like to think I’ve been educated whenever I’m in something and learnt something. I think I know less now than when I got the Millwall job back 25 years ago because I thought I knew everything then, but now I realise pretty much I don’t.
Q: Do you still plan for next season? You talked about this a little while ago that it was full steam ahead in terms of recruitment and laying out feelers.
MM: Oh not now. No, no, no. That’s not my remit anymore is it. I have been putting together who I thought should be around, who should stay and who should go.
I won’t be doing that onerous task, no, no.
Pre-season is pretty much down to somebody else, I’m not going to go arranging something somebody else may not want. Although I do believe the trip to Ireland has been booked.
Q: When you got the job Paul Jewell had recommended you so if Marcus asks you the question about who he should go for, would you enter into that kind of discussion with him?
MM: I would give him my opinion on managers, of course I would. Why wouldn’t I? We’ve had a great relationship all the time and that remains the same. If he thinks my opinion carries some weight then I will give it to him, yeah.
Q: You must be desperate to end on a high by getting a fair amount of points and getting as far up the table as possible over these eight games?
MM: Of course. We are going back to the scene of the first crime I’ve had, my first game at Birmingham (in 2012) and the irony is I’m announcing I’m finishing now and going back to Birmingham.
We have some winnable games but they are scrapping for their lives after a great result last time out (a 3-0 victory over Hull.
Then Millwall are coming here and that will be a great game on Easter Monday because I would think they would bring a lot of fans given they’ve been flying.
We have some good games and ones we have to compete in.
Q: I was taken by your comment where you say you had to force the issue. Was it surprising discussions hadn’t happened sooner?
MM: Not at all. Marcus owns the club and it’s up to him to do it how he sees fit. I’ve abided by those rules as the gaffer.
It’s got to the stage where I’m coming in here and I get asked by the lads and they’re almost embarrassed asking about it because they know I’m not going to answer. I felt for them a little bit. So I wasn’t going to let it go any further.
We’ve got eight games left, five in two weeks, so let’s make it be known what is going to happen.
Q: You have talked before about protecting your brand, because that’s important, but then people often think about protecting your family as well. It was interesting you felt a duty on them that they’d taken enough almost as much as you had.
MM: I think I’m being normal when I’m at home but perhaps I’m not. I’m sure I am. It’s like when we’re driving back up the A12 and we’ve lost.
Fiona doesn’t speak to me and then I say to her after about half an hour ‘what’s wrong with you’ and she just looks at me. She knows how to handle me, thankfully, after 38 years.
It does take its toll, of course it does.
Q: Nobody can question your loyalty, but has this club been different because Marcus wants to take a back seat? That’s left you with a huge vacuum to fill, on many levels, in terms of signings and the fans. I’m not saying you have been hung out to dry but you have been fully exposed here.
MM: I think I’ve handled it well, I’ve been an experienced manager who has dealt with that. I’ve not been left hanging with signings or anything.
Whatever I get thrown at me, in terms of how the job is, I deal with it to the best of my ability. This has been a different one, compared to others, but it’s been no more difficult because (Evans) has been very supportive.
I have a great relationship with him and still have.
Q: More golf now?
MM: Oh for sure. I’ve been asked to play once or twice before the season ends and I’ve sort of tentatively said yes. It’s an absolute nailed on now, that’s for sure.
Q: Why do you feel now is the right time to go after six years?
MM: I think I need to go off and do something else. I’ve done my shift here and I’ve done well here. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it to be quite honest.
But we’re not progressing, we’re pretty much standing still and I don’t want to do that and I’d like an opportunity to move forward, wherever that might be.
I’ve done my job and people are getting pretty bored of me anyway, I’ve said that before. So let them have somebody else and see if they get bored with them.
Q: There was no discussion with Marcus Evans over whether you should have a new contract or if you would even want one?
MM: No, there wasn’t. Really, I just wanted to see him and see how he felt about everything and he me, to be quite honest. Having had that discussion it would quite obvious to both of us that it was best I moved on.
Q: How much of your decision is based on the abuse you have been getting from fans in recent weeks?
MM: None at all. If we had had our chat and he’d turned round and said we could do something then I wasn’t even certain about that. I said to him months ago I wasn’t certain about whether I wanted to stay under any circumstances.
But no, it’s not the abuse I get because I’ve had that for nearly two years now. I just keep smiling at them.
Q: So how do you look back on your achievements because you’ve saved Ipswich from relegation when you came in, two years later you have got them in the play-offs. It’s just the last year or two things have not been as good as you would have liked.
MM: Yes, that’s quite clear. We got to the play-offs and just missed out and then perhaps the sale of Murph (Daryl Murphy) just before the season started and not replacing him with anyone anywhere near adequate, caused us a big problem.
We did have a real problem scoring goals then so that season was a real dull one for everybody, me included. I think that was the start of it and start of a demise of my relationship with a section of the crowd.
“You all ask about that but I’ve had amazing support here, that’s what should be said, and a small section would not drive me out. I’m not walking away, my contract’s coming to an end and both of us think it’s the right time.
I certainly do.
Q: You made the club money in the transfer market, but you didn’t have a lot to spend – a small budget compared to a lot of Championship clubs. Do you think that has hampered any improvements you might have made with the team?
MM: What do you think? Strange that Jose Mourinho was complaining after spending £350m because somebody spent £500m. You get what you pay for I guess.
The gig I get, I do the best I can. With our recruitment I think it’s been pretty good, especially this year – Joe Garner, Martyn Waghorn have been good successes. The same with Webbo (Adam Webster) and Grant Ward. People we have actually gone out and invested in a little bit.
When you are taking in free transfers and Bosmans, some you win and some you lose.
We’ve had some good ones and some not so good ones. Loan players, Jonny Williams a different class, Tom Lawrence a different class and Ryan Fraser was different classes. Bersant’s had some of that with eight goals.
The recruitment’s been good within our budget.
Q: What’s next for you Mick, after the season comes to an end?
MM: A holiday, some golf, a bit of down time and hopefully the phone will ring and somebody will offer me another job.
Q: Would you have any advice to the owner as to who might succeed you?
MM: Only if he asks. And that wouldn’t be advice, it would be my opinion as to what I thought of somebody as a manager or a coach – if I know them, of course.
Q: When a club and manager part ways it’s usually because of league position and recent results – that’s not the situation here. It seems to be a bigger, more complicated issue. Can you get your head around how we’ve reached this stage?
MM: It’s the strangest thing I’ve experienced. I’m having to work through this one as well. I’m still learning (about this game) now.
I left Sunderland and there wasn’t a bad word about me from inside the club or the training ground and I guess Wolves was the same.
But this is the first time I’m leaving a job with eight games to go and I think if you asked anybody inside there (the dressing room) they’d all say they were pretty disappointed. I think if you went down to Portman Road (the staff there) would say the same as well.
I keep saying, with the budget I have got here I’ve done a good job and continued to do that this year. Maybe people have got a bit bored with me and that’s changed the atmosphere.
So it does seem bonkers when lots of things are going well and going in the right direction and yet I’m now going in the other direction.
Q: It sounds like a very amicable chat with Marcus last night. You’ve already articulated why you’re not happy not achieving things in the game and the reasons why this job isn’t working for you. Did Marcus explain why it’s not working for him?
MM: Yes he did. It was very amicable. He explained what his plans are and asked what I what like to do. I guess they didn’t marry up. They didn’t meet in the middle.
There was no disagreement at all. It was very amicable.
Q: No regrets?
Q: Nothing you would do differently if you had your time again?
MM: Erm… I guess there are some players I might not have signed, there might be some I wish I had signed…
But there’s no regrets in terms of coming here, none in terms of what I’ve done and decisions that I’ve made, how I’ve managed the club – no, not at all.
Q: Do you feel sad that it’s reached this point? There was so much love and unity there in those first few years and yet we’ve reached the situation that we are in now…
MM: I don’t feel sad actually, I feel proud that it’s got to this stage. If you check the managerial record of other people there are some who have had three jobs this year.
Is it 11 months now, the average tenure of a Championship manager? I’ve lasted nearly six years.
So no I am not sad, or bitter, or twisted or upset about it. I’m actually quite proud that I’ve had that time.
And to go back to a question that I have already been asked – that’s not because I’m Marcus’ bosom buddy and he’s just kept me in a job. It’s because he thinks I’ve been doing a good job.
Q: You instigated this chat. Do you think this chat should have happened sooner? Could a lot of the events of the last few months been avoided if you’d have had that discussion sooner?
MM: I’ve no idea whether the events would have happened. I think I said to you before; what would have happened had I instigated this chat at Christmas and we’d reached the same decision and Marcus had said ‘well, you’ve got another 23 games to play’? That could have been a right royal relegation battle that couldn’t it?
I don’t know how it will affect the players, but I am certain it will. I wouldn’t have been doing the January transfer window, I’d have been trying to motivate players who knew I was going – I think that would have been bonkers.
There was no way I was even going to try and instigate it before then, but I did think the international break, I would wait and see what happened, and it needed to be sorted out.
Q: Have you changed your mind several times as to what you wanted to do? We’d given up guessing which way you was going to go.
MM: I know you had – and that’s why I kept doing it!
Q: We were going through this ridiculous dance every week weren’t we?
MM: I’m not as green as I’m cabbage looking me! I’m not as daft as I look, believe me.
Q: In the back of your mind you must have been swaying one way or the other at different times. At times you would come in here and seem to be very fired up to stay on and prove people wrong, then on other days the situation seemed to be getting you down.
MM: That was maybe when I’d been getting a bit of abuse when I was more fired up to stay.
I’ve got a job to do. I think sometimes you are missing that. I’ve got a squad of players that need me to be motivated and fired up and ready to get them ready to play.
If I came in here and I was dull as ditchwater saying ‘oh, I’m not quite sure’ they would think I’m a right old maid!
Do you know what I get out of them every week? Fire and brimstone – that’s what I get. We might not be great, we might not play well every week, but they go out and give me everything. That’s reflective of my personality and it’s how I need them to be. That’s how this club needs them to be, because without that collective team spirit that we’ve got we could be dragged into that bottom half of the table. It’s because of that (spirit) that we are not.
Q: So you don’t regret anything you’ve said? The situation at the Norwich game (shouting f*** off in the supporters’ direction), other comments – things like that seem to have just chipped away at the mood and the relationship with the fans. That’s perhaps where it’s unravelled in the last few months.
MM: That’s my personality. I said to you here two weeks ago – I haven’t changed from the moment I walked through this door on November the first 2012.
I haven’t changed. My persona, my personality hasn’t changed. I’ve dealt with all you guys the same whenever I’ve come in.
Who’s changed? It’s not me. It’s not my personality. I’ve stayed exactly the same. So I’ve not turned on anybody have I? It’s been quite the opposite.
The turn… it’s the supporters. Not everyone, I’ve said that I’ve had great support, but the ones who have turned – it’s them, not me. I haven’t changed in any shape or form. I’m still the same bloke that they were giving the old stupid ‘Super Mick’ chant, which I thought was equally as bonkers. But I preferred it to some of the others I’ve had, I have to be honest!
Q: Was entertainment value something that was raised in the meeting with Marcus? It was something referred to in the explanations regarding a cut in season ticket prices this week.
MM: Not at all. He’s never questioned my way of playing or my way of setting up teams. I think he probably pats me on the back a little bit more because he understands the budget that other teams have got and the funds he gives me and the restrictions I have. I think he appreciates the fact that I get results.
He is probably the one person who looks back at November 2012 when we had seven points and thought ‘I don’t want to be in that situation again’.
But for a little scrape last year we’ve never been anywhere near it.
Q: You’ve often said ‘be careful what you wish for’. How big a job is this for the man who will end up replacing you?
MM: I don’t know. I don’t want to out the fickle finger of fate on anybody, but I left Millwall for Ireland and they ended up getting relegated… I left Sunderland and they got relegated. That was probably a lot of my fault, I had six million quid to spend in the Premier League. And I left Wolves and they went down two divisions.
I’m not saying it’s all down to me, but there is a common denominator.
Q: You’ll have spent almost six years here – a long period of time – will Ipswich Town always have a big place in your heart?
MM: Oh yes, absolutely. It’ll have a big place in my heart until I come back with another team and want to slap them!
Q: Is this likely to impact on Bart’s (contract) decision over the next few weeks?
MM: Absolutely it will.
Q: In what way?
MM: Well, when I was the one in discussions with him he wanted to know what I was doing. At the time I didn’t know.
It’ll probably impact on Jonas’ decision as well. He’s signed a year’s option, but was another one asking me what I was doing.
Q: Do you think some of these players might end up following you to a new club?
MM: *Laughs* I haven’t got a new club. I don’t know. Can I just say, I’ve spoken to the staff and the players this morning to tell them I am not staying on. I’ve not had any further discussion than that.
I’m being brutally honest that when I discussed their contracts they said ‘what are you doing gaffer?’ And I said ‘I can’t give you that answer.