Mick McCarthy: New Cardiff City manager hopes for extended stay

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales
'You have to play to the players you've got' - new Cardiff City boss Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy hopes a successful start to his Cardiff City tenure could lead to an extended stay with the club.

Ex-Republic of Ireland manager McCarthy has taken charge for the rest of the season after Neil Harris was sacked.

His appointment has split opinion but, given his strong track record in the Championship, the 61-year-old believes he can win over his detractors.

"I have got to earn that long-term deal with my performance and the performance of the players," said McCarthy.

"That's ultimately my job, to get them to play well and win games and see what we can do this season.

"If it's done well and it is successful, yes, of course, there is an opportunity for a longer-term deal."

Cardiff turned to the vastly experienced McCarthy after sacking Harris following a run of five successive league defeats which had left the Bluebirds 15th in the Championship, while they also tumbled out of the FA Cup during that spell.

Over the course of a managerial career which started back in 1992, McCarthy has led Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers to Premier League promotion and provided stability to other second-tier clubs such as Ipswich Town.

However, when his appointment at Cardiff was confirmed, the reaction from supporters was mixed, with some pointing to what they perceived to be McCarthy's pragmatic playing style.

Mick McCarthy
As well as managing several clubs, Mick McCarthy has had two spells in charge of the Republic of Ireland

"Everybody is entitled to an opinion. I'm sure if you ask every Cardiff City supporter you would get a long list of people they would like to employ, maybe a lot of people in front of me," McCarthy said.

"I can't do anything about that. The club have entrusted me with the job of trying to improve the team, somebody who's got a lot of experience in this league and had sustained success in it.

"And if that's for a short period of time or a long period of time, I am not interested in that. I just want to come in, enjoy these 22 games and do as well as I possibly can.

"Then, hopefully, the ones who didn't want me here will be thinking 'you know what, fair play to the club, that was a good decision and we want to keep Mick'."

Asked specifically about criticisms levelled against his brand of football, McCarthy responded: "Me and my style of football is trying your best to win the game, but it is by passing the ball to one another, however that might be.

"It makes me laugh because I look at Liverpool play and they hit long balls behind the opposition.

"Suddenly they get found out and the ones who beat Liverpool hit balls and get runners in behind, win games. It just makes me laugh how everyone wants a certain style of football.

"But you have to play to the players you've got. That's how I play.

"If my players want to play to the best of their ability, we will win games and get up the league."

'Opportunity here with good players'

Cardiff reached the Championship play-off semi-finals last season and had hoped to challenge for promotion again in this campaign.

But they mustered only three wins from their opening 13 games and, following their latest loss of form, Harris departed with the Bluebirds 13 points adrift of the top six.

McCarthy believes there is potential in this Cardiff squad but he is reluctant to set defined targets for this season.

"When we start picking up points we can set targets," he said.

"To come in and say, on the back of the defeats we have had, that the target is now the play-offs, some of them will wonder if I've gone off my rocker.

"If we beat Barnsley, Millwall, maybe we can say it. But we need to get back to winning games.

Terry Connor (left) and Mick McCarthy
Terry Connor (left) has been Mick McCarthy's assistant manager with several teams, including Wolves, the Republic of Ireland and now Cardiff

"The first thing I did when I got the call, that I could speak to the club about this job, I looked at the squad and thought, 'Wow, they have got some good players, a good squad'.

"I watched them play at Nottingham Forest when I was doing a co-commentary while I was out of work and I was really impressed, played really well up there and won the game.

"I am thinking, 'there is an opportunity here with good players'.

"Where does it all go wrong? I don't know. Can we blame Covid? Can we blame somebody else or shall we all look at ourselves individually and accept responsibility and try and improve on the results?

"It's been an inconsistent one, where they've won four on the bounce then lost a few on the bounce. We need to create a bit of consistency."

McCarthy was not long out of work before joining Cardiff, having left Cypriot champions Apoel earlier in January after just two months in charge.

That brief tenure was in stark contrast to the rest of his career, in which he has spent a minimum of three years at each club he has managed.

"It didn't work out. Whether that was down to Covid or me and TC [Terry Connor, his long-time assistant manager], I have no idea but it didn't work," McCarthy added.

"So, it's the first time ever that has happened and I was disappointed it ended that way, but I am looking forward to this challenge.

"I can place myself anywhere - I have done over time. I come from Barnsley, but I have been at Millwall in south east London, I managed in Ireland, Sunderland, Wolves, Ipswich and I've managed to be able to settle and manage and have a fair bit of success wherever I've been. I'm hoping that's going to be the case in Cardiff.

"I have been in the stadium, but usually I go in the away dressing room and take no notice of it. But what an amazing ground it is and the training ground.

"Nobody has once said to me, 'Wow, you should see Cardiff's ground and training ground'.

"I have been knocked out by it - it's amazing. It's brilliant, I am really delighted."

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