Embarrassed Mick McCarthy in danger of the axe at Ipswich Townby Jack Kitson / 18 January 2017, 10:58Tweet
Mick McCarthy had a horrifying nightmare last night, one in which his Ipswich Town (Championship) side were dumped out of the FA Cup by non-league outfit Lincoln City, a club ranked three tiers and a whopping 59 places below them in England’s football pyramid.
The problem for McCarthy is that it turns out it wasn’t a nightmare, but a shocking reality.
The fact that his Championship troops couldn’t beat a National Conference side over 180 minutes of football (Ipswich were only saved from a humiliating home defeat in the closing stages) is utterly depressing not only for McCarthy and the players, but the supporters and everyone associated with the confidence-crushed club.
But, let’s not taking anything away from Danny Cowley’s hugely impressive Imps, who were simply fantastic, showcasing lashings of heart, passion and desire, in stark contrast to the meek and mundane performance from their second-tier opponents.
McCarthy admitted he was “embarrassed”, and so he should be, with the game watched by a prime time audience on BBC One, for all the nation to see.
McCarthy is currently the longest-serving Championship manager, accumulating in excess of 200 matches since stepping into the Ipswich dugout over four years ago.
However, there is no doubting that the 57-year-old is now under an avalanche of pressure, and yet there’s still 18 months left on his contract.
“You’re getting sacked in the morning”, echoed around Sincil Bank after Lincoln’s last-gasp winner, a phrase usually used by opposition supporters to taunt and heckle rival fans and their under-fire manager, except on this occasion it was the Ipswich faithful who vociferously belted it out.
McCarthy has since stated:
"If the club want to sack me, so be it, and if the fans are that sick of me then that makes life difficult for me at every game.”
That could well prove to be the outcome in the following days.
Ipswich are currently in the Championship’s equivalent of No Man’s Land, 14th, 11 points adrift of the play-offs, and 10 points above the dreaded drop zone.
With this in mind it’s highly unlikely to envision the Suffolk side ending their 15-year wait to return to the Promised Land of the Premier League.
During this frustrating period the club has only finished in the top-6 just three times, and only once in the last 11 years, while they registered just 15 wins in 49 matches last year.
In fairness, The Tractor Boys have recorded 7th, 6th and 9th place finishes in McCarthy’s three full seasons - they were knocked out in the play-offs by fierce rivals Norwich in 2014/15 - but the lacklustre nature of the current campaign, and Tuesday night’s cup catastrophe, has led many to argue that a fresh injection of ideas are needed at Portman Road.