Another one of Mick McCarthy’s many managerial lives dissolved on Saturday when the 62-year-old was cut loose by Cardiff City following an eighth straight loss.
McCarthy remains the only Republic of Ireland manager to carve out a respectable club career after the big gig went sour. However, he has struggled to impose a coherent style, alongside long-time assistant Terry Connor, following his second stint as the national gaffer.
McCarthy and Ireland Part II ended abruptly due to pandemic delays that contractually obliged the FAI to promote Stephen Kenny to the position before last year's European Championships playoffs against Slovakia, which the team lost on penalties.
The Barnsley native was snapped up by Cypriot club Apoel Nicosia in November 2020, a move that lasted two months due to five defeats in eight games. Turns out Jack Byrne, signed from Shamrock Rovers two days before McCarthy got fired, was the real loser in that debacle.
“You are the coach there, and they have other team managers who run the club,” McCarthy told Sky Sports. “But we said it might be the best sacking we ever had because there might be someone having a bit of a tough time who might need us, and we got more publicity coming back than we did going out there.”
Sure enough, City swooped for McCarthy and Connor but the new chapter ended after 38 games with Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Middlesbrough, notable for Cardiff supporters giving former manager Neil Warnock a warmer reception than the incumbent.
Such poor returns are in line with other ex-Ireland managers. Martin O'Neill, and his assistant Roy Keane, compiled only 19 games before Nottingham Forest severed ties in 2019 while Giovanni Trapattoni and Jack Charlton effectively retired when their international innings concluded.
At least Brian Kerr had a riveting documentary made about his two-year stint in the Faroe Islands but Steve Staunton's disastrous 21 months as Ireland manager was followed by four wins from 25 games at Darlington.
McCarthy guided Ireland to their third ever World Cup finals in 2002 when, as you may have heard, a dispute with Keane led to the Manchester United captain leaving the squad before the tournament got underway. Ireland still reached the knock-out stages, losing to Spain in a penalty shoot-out.
Defeats to Russia and Switzerland in the opening qualifiers for Euro 2004 finished six years at the helm but there followed a near uninterrupted 681 games managing Sunderland (replaced by Keane), Wolverhampton Wanderers and Ipswich Town, which collapsed due to supporters being staunchly against his defensive philosophy.
“You’ll have to ask the numbskulls who’ve been giving me the abuse, because I think that’s what they are to be quite honest,” responded McCarthy in March 29th, 2018 to a question about deserving more respect. “Fiona, my wife, she said to me for ages, ‘Mick, why don’t you just pack it in? Why would you be taking that kind of abuse?’ But no chance, I was never going to pack it in and she knew that.”
By April 11th McCarthy had heard enough abuse at Portman Road, announcing his departure in a press conference following Ipswich’s 1-0 win over his home town club Barnsley.
“I won’t have to listen to that again, that’s my last game,” McCarthy said. “I’m out of here.”
This rancourous parting of ways failed to dissuade former FAI chief executive John Delaney from appointing him as Ireland manager for a second time in highly unusual circumstances as, at the same 2018 press conference, Kenny was named McCarthy's successor following Euro 2020.
McCarthy’s return to Ireland peaked with draws against Denmark and reportedly concluded with an “exit fee” of €1.13 million to allow Kenny’s tenure to begin.
“I’m great, me family are well, everything is fine, except football results,” he said last week. “Unfortunately for me 90 percent of my life is football and football results, so you can tell how I am feeling.”
What every Ireland manager did next:
Mick Meagan (1969-71) – Drogheda (1969-73)
Liam Tuohy (1971-73) – Shamrock Rovers (held concurrently)
John Giles (1973-80) – WBA, Shamrock Rovers (held concurrently)
Eoin Hand (1980-85) – Al-Taawon, Saudi Arabia
Jack Charlton (1986-96) – retired
Mick McCarthy (1996-2002) – Sunderland (2003-06)
Brian Kerr (2003-05) – Faroe Islands (2009-11)
Steve Staunton (2006-07) – Darlington (2009-10)
Giovanni Trapattoni (2008-13) – retired
Martin O'Neill (2013-18) – Nottingham Forest (2019)
Mick McCarthy (2018-20) – Apoel Nicosia (2020-2021)