Mick McCarthy says ‘I just get on with it’ amidst FAI issues

‘Everything that I’ve seen since I left 17 years ago is better than it was when I was here the last time’

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and Ireland women’s national team manager Colin Bell at the Aviva Stadium for the launch of the Sports Direct-backed Summer Soccer Schools. Photograph: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and Ireland women’s national team manager Colin Bell at the Aviva Stadium for the launch of the Sports Direct-backed Summer Soccer Schools. Photograph: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

 

Mick McCarthy insists he is unaffected by the governance issues that have engulfed the FAI in recent weeks. The 60-year-old, who claims not to have followed the detail of John Delaney and the association’s deepening problems while at home in England, says Donal Conway reassured him on Tuesday that he was free to focus on his own role while work continued out in Abbotstown to address the many issues that have been raised.

“We will come in, train, and carry on as we normally do,” he said at an event at the Aviva stadium on Wednesday to promote the association’s Sports Direct- backed Summer Soccer Schools. “It doesn’t have any bearing on it [the squad] at all.

Michael D Higgins at the Liverpool Legends game, I was walking down with him, and he just said to me ‘it’s about the football’, and I said ‘you’re quite right’. The sentiment is that it’s the football that counts. Without the football, none of us would be here. I just get on with it.”

McCarthy reiterated his belief that the FAI does the things that impact on him in a better manner now than when he managed the senior team for the first time, but declined to say if he believes Delaney and the association’s board have been harshly treated, insisting that he was not familiar enough with the detail of all that had transpired to pass judgment at this stage.

He went on to express sympathy and support for the staff whose day-to-day work for Irish football has been overshadowed by the long-standing issues of financial and governance mismanagement that have recently been made public.

“I was in the offices yesterday, and I felt for the people working there. I’m a little bit immune to it, working in England, watching players, but I was acutely aware going in yesterday that if you’re going into that environment and everyone is battered, the association they are working for, it must be pretty tough.

“They should be proud of what they’re doing. We’re in a stadium here that is part of it, Abbotstown is…everything that I’ve seen since I left 17 years ago is better than it was when I was here the last time.

Do their jobs

“I just look at the youth teams who are doing well. There is a lot to be proud of, and that’s what I tried to say to them. That’s what they should be thinking about because they can’t affect what is happening either. All they can do is do their jobs.”

His job , he hopes, might be made that little bit more manageable in June by the return to goalscoring form of Southampton striker Shane Long.

The 32-year-old’s record setting strike on Tuesday night was his third in four appearances or slightly more than two games’ worth of minutes, almost unthinkable numbers just a few weeks ago for a player whose previous rate of return had given rise to some fairly scathing statistics.

“I know it [the goal against Watford] was seven seconds and he’ll be remembered for that, but it should be remembered for the deft finish,” said McCarthy. “His finish was brilliant. Making blocks and holding the ball up, he’ll do that all day long and that’s what he’s known for, but his finish was excellent.

“That’s bound to affect his confidence. There’s no player in the world whose confidence it wouldn’t affect. At the time he probably doesn’t feel any different. He just plays. But the acid test is when you get that one on one, and you’re not scoring goals.

“Read Tony Cascarino’s book and see what he says about it…going through [on goal] and it’s in his head…he’s thinking ‘you’ve no chance, you’re going to miss or the keeper will save it’. It’s just natural.

“He’ll make a huge difference [with the goals going in] because he’s always a physical presence on the pitch, and a work rate, and you saw the performance here, we got after Georgia and we stopped them playing and he certainly can do that, but you want more than that. If we can get that out of Shane it would be a big plus for us.”

Club level

Long, he says, is a certainty for any squad he names while in form like this, and James McCarthy stands a chance again after having at least played a bit of competitive football for Everton again, although, the manager suggests, he will have to made further inroads at club level.

Yet his more immediate issue than the 23 he might bring in for the games against Denmark and Gibraltar are the 11 who might not be available to him for the training camp in Portugal a couple of weeks beforehand.

“I’m still in the process of dealing with that,” he says, as he rattles through the play-off permutations.

There are enough, he seems to feel, to keep him occupied without worrying too much about what is happening back at head office.

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