Is the end nigh for Mick McCarthy at Ipswich Town?by Mike Holden / 05 April 2016, 11:47Tweet
Mick McCarthy has been hotly linked with the Aston Villa job since Remi Garde was sent packing last month. McCarthy's current club, Ipswich Town, have stalled somewhat in the frenetic race for promotion up to the Premier League, leading to growing fears that the 57-year-old could switch jobs in the summer, writes Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike).
The end appears to be near for Mick McCarthy at Ipswich. Reported interest from Aston Villa couldn't have come at a more delicate stage in his relationship with the Suffolk club. Whether stories linking him with the vacant post at Villa Park are concrete or not, things have now been said that make it difficult to go back to the way it was. If he stays, resentment is almost inevitable.
Two weeks ago, McCarthy talked about familiarity breeding contempt. After seeing his team booed off following a 1-0 home defeat to Rotherham, he suggested that maybe Ipswich fans were getting fed up of him. By his own standards, this season has been a disappointment but he sounded like a man who was feeling under-appreciated on account of the job he has done overall.
Ipswich are back in the top half of the Championship and looking up. It's a far cry from where they were three years ago following the underwhelming tenures of Roy Keane and Paul Jewell but the fans now feel as though the club should be kicking-on, firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion, even though McCarthy is working to a smaller budget than those above him.
Clearly, things haven't gone according to plan. McCarthy's attempts to introduce a more swashbuckling brand of football, reminiscent of his title-winning season at Wolves, backfired spectacularly. Horrified by what he saw in a 5-1 defeat at Reading last September, he went back to basics and everything has subsequently gone stale.
It's easy to see both sides of the argument. We live in an age where long-term stability is secondary to continual progress. And that's not going to change. Portman Road season ticket holders want to be inspired and entertained. Grinding your way to good results is all well and good, but grinding your way to poor results simply isn't much fun. Fans want to see progress, today.
However, the Villa link only brings it home that McCarthy deserves to be appreciated. When you take a manager out of his current plight and envisage him somewhere else, you see him for what he really is. And put simply, McCarthy is your number one go-to manager for any club with designs on being instantly prepared for life in the Championship.
The link with Villa is entirely believable and, given their greater resources, a top-six finish is the very least you would expect next season, no matter how big the turnover in players. So McCarthy is well within his rights to use it as an emotional bargaining tool. Trouble is, once you go down that road, trust can quickly disappear and prior grievances tend to fester.
The remaining seven games should reveal plenty. Differences have to be patched up in that period, McCarthy and the fans have to renew their vows and declare undying love for one another in no uncertain terms. Failing that, the Tractor Boys head into next season on rocky foundations and the resentment is bound to resurface at the first sign of adversity.