The championship’s longest serving manager Mick McCarthy, could be no longer. The former Republic of Ireland boss is seen to be out of favour with the Ipswich faithful and with results worsening, how long does the Irishman have?
McCarthy has since stated that he has the complete backing of Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans but with back to back defeats to Huddersfield and non-league Lincoln City, even he must be fearing the worst.
You cannot help but feel that McCarthy may have run his four year tenure down to the very bones. With lacklustre signings and dismal football to follow suit, it is hard to muster up an argument for McCarthy to stay.
Yes, the former Millwall, Sunderland and Wolverhampton boss did almost achieve the unthinkable back in the 2014/15 season by guiding the Suffolk based club to a playoff semi-final. However, they faced defeat to arch-rivals Norwich City.
This was the first of many indications that the playing squad of Ipswich had to be improved some way further, especially with regard to their midfield and striking positions.
But, even the most optimistic neutral, let alone Town enthusiast, could not help but think that their team was not up to scratch. With the fairy-tale prolonged further, McCarthy’s Ipswich finished seventh the following season, a mere five points behind sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday.
Again, signs of improvements imperative, instead they parted with the blossoming left back Tyrone Mings and attacking forward Daryl Murphy for a combined figure of around £11 million. The latter proving more costly than the first. McCarthy’s play relied upon Murphy – his vital goals and the way he kept possession of the ball in the opposition’s final third paved over the ever widening cracks.
Murphy scored 67 goals in his 225 appearance for the tractor boys not that great a return at first glance. But a mighty 25 of them was in the 2014/15 season alone and McCarthy’s attempt to replace the PFA Championship Team of the Year striker with Leon Best faltered.
Best, failed to score in 12 of his last outings and goals have been hard to come by for the other three front men. Freddie Sears, David McGoldrick and Brett Pitman have only accumulated nine goals between them.
McCarthy has since recruited the services of Kieffer Moore to try and address the situation. The 6ft 5in tall striker has an unimpressive return of 19 goals in 52 career games, an astounding 45 of those appearances he made as a substitute. Although, he arrives on the back of an eye catching loan move at Torquay. There he produced five goals in just four starts, but with this in mind, he has never played in a division higher than the English Football League Two. Not exactly, the marquee signing the Tractor Boys were hoping for.
Aware that McCarthy has been restricted to a shoe string budget and his resources very much limited, it is his strange team selections and his negative style of football that has bought him under increased scrutiny. His persistence to play a defensive midfield duo of Cole Skuse and Jonathan Douglas is creating animosity amongst many supporters.
You can’t help but feel that this is rightly felt, Douglas has not produced an assist or a goal all season and they have only won four of the 21 games he has featured in. So it begs the question, what does the midfielder actually contribute?
Tom Lawrence, on loan from Leicester City, has gifted McCarthy with some simply, dazzling performances. He mustered up a draw in the FA Cup Third Round tie against Lincoln City with two breathtaking finishes to prolong McCarthy’s blushes until the following replay. He has seven goals and four assists and Ipswich could be worse off if they didn’t have the 21-year-old at their disposal.
Yet, McCarthy has not helped his cause any further by stating that he sees this season as one for the breakthrough of youth. Not exactly comments to make the heart race.
Yes, the emergence of Myles Kenlock, Josh Emmanuel and Andre Dozzell have been promising but if Ipswich are to take the leap of faith and reach the promise land of the Premier League, they’re going to have to invest and invest significantly.
The 14th placed outfit now have a treacherous five game run, as they play teams all placed above them. Preston North End, Derby County, Reading, Aston Villa and Brighton will all have their hopes assured and this could be a season defining run for McCarthy and his team.