MICK MCCARTHY FACTFILE
McAvennie waited for McCarthy to clear then caught him with a brutal late challenge. Mick went down, the physio came out. McAvennie waited for the stretcher.
But then McCarthy, red-faced and furious, leapt to his feet.“Son, you’ve just made the biggest mistake of your life,” he roared. “I’m the hardest b*stard in this league, and you’ve just given yourself 88 minutes to find out why.”
To this day, the chastened Glaswegian recalls the battering he took as the toughest game of his life.
Yet McCarthy wasn’t all brute force. An Irish international who played in Euro ’88 and the 1990 World Cup, he was decent with the ball and an intelligent reader of the game.
“Mick impressed me as having everything that a topquality centre-half needs,” said Billy McNeill, his manager at both City and Celtic. “Good touch, confidence and class… as well as what you’d expect from a lad with his height and strength.”
Indeed, it was his all-round Born: Barnsley, 1959 (Age: 53) Playing career: A striker in his youth team days, the 6ft 2ins McCarthy was swiftly converted to centr e-half and went on to spend six years at hometown club Bar nsley, making more than 300 appearances and winning pr omotion from Division Four to Division Two. Switched to Man City in 1983 and won promotion to the top flight in his first full season but moved to Celtic in 1987 with City heading for r elegation. Won the league and cup double in his first campaign, and had his most prolific spell in front of goal, scoring eight in 48 games. A switch to Fr ench side Lyon in 1989 didn’t work out and McCarthy r etired in 1992 after two years at Millwall. An Ir eland international, he won 57 caps and played in both Eur o ’88 and Italia ’90. Management career: Became player-manager at Millwall in 1992, losing to Derby in the First Division play-of f semifinal in 1993-94. Succeeded Jack Charlton as Ir eland manager in 1996 but failed to qualify for his first two tour naments – World Cup France ’98 and Eur o 2000 in Holland and Belgium. Took Ireland to the World Cup in 2002 and made the last 16 where they lost to Spain. Joined Sunderland in 2003, suffering two Premier League relegations and one promotion. Appointed Wolves boss in 2006 and won the Championship title in 2009, keeping them up twice befor e being sacked in February 2012. Appointed manager of Ipswich in November and won six of his first 11 games in charge. ability that attracted future France coach Raymond Domenech, who said he needed “a little British steel” in his Lyon side.
Though it didn’t go well (a 4-1 defeat to Marseille in his first game saw headlines of ‘Debut Catastrophique’ in L’Equipe newspaper) it was a learning experience that set him up well for management. “Their approach to playing the game was obviously different to the British game,” he recalls. “It was rare to see them drinking anything stronger than fruit juice and that really struck me.”
It was also where he picked up a trait he still utilises today – at the start of every training session, his players greet him with a handshake.“It was great for team spirit,” he says. In hindsight, an outspoken Yorkshireman was always going to be a manager. “As a youth player I used to get into scrapes with some of the first-teamers as I was prone to shout my mouth off,” he recalls. Managers noticed and he spent most of his career as a captain.
He is also highly principled. At Wolves, he used to demand that his charity and community work go unpublicised in case people thought he was doing it for show.
And a journalist with whom McCarthy had shared many battles was surprised when, just 45 minutes before a game, the then Wolves boss rang to wish him well after a death in the family.
He has always shown similar compassion with his players, perhaps showing why – other than the infamous spat with Roy Keane – he has never lost a dressing room. And why he has managed at a World Cup with Ireland and twice won promotion from the Championship, first with Sunderland in 2005, then Wolves in 2009.
“I have played under a lot of managers,” adds Stewart. “But Mick is the best. I have huge admiration for him and he has a way about him that commands respect. His man-management skills are excellent.”
EIRE WE GO: McCarthy in action for Republic of Ireland in 1988