Mick McCarthy says there is no unfinished business with Ireland

Ipswich manager enjoying club scene but doesn’t expect Everton or Villa to come calling

Looking tanned and relaxed after what he believes was a good season at Ipswich, Mick McCarthy says that, in the right circumstances, he would like to manage Ireland again – though he doesn't sound like a man who envies Martin O'Neill right now. Maybe, just maybe, the idea of heading to a major championship with, eh, yer man, doesn't entirely appeal.

McCarthy was in Dublin yesterday and he insisted he was happy with his lot these days on the club beat.

He has two years to run on his contract at Portman Road and while he is the first to acknowledge that is hardly a guarantee for either side, he comes across as liking the idea that he he does his job well and is appreciated for it.

“I know what the gig is,” he says. “If there are not huge funds there to spend and we’ve been staying inside that Financial Fair Play, then I accept that I have to make the best of what I’ve got. The lads do as well, which is great. I continue to get the best out of them and they out of me. I think we’ve had a good season considering.

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“If you look at the teams that got promoted and the amount of money they spent . . . the four above us [in the play-off positions] spent a lot of money in terms of recruitment, buying, spending on wages too . . . So we’ve had a good season.

“And if anyone wants to speak to me or make an offer, they have to contact Marcus [Evans, Ipswich owner] and he would have to tell me if there’s been some contact and would I like to speak to them. But I’ve not had any call from Marcus saying that Everton, Villa or anybody else have been in touch. And I don’t anticipate they will actually. I don’t think there’s a clamour for my services, if I have to be honest.”

McCarthy is under no illusions about the sort of job he is gets linked with: the ones where the emphasis is on getting the best out of a squad built on a tight budget.

Billionaire

“If ever a job comes up that people think requires that sort of person to do the job, then that’s what I get named for. I’ve not yet been named where there’s been a Qatari billionaire and somebody says, ‘Mick McCarthy would be great for that job’. I’ve not heard that one yet. I’m living in hope rather than expectation.”

The particular talent he has, though, equips him rather well for the Ireland job and with O’Neill having declined to rule out a return to the Premier League only yesterday, it is inevitable that McCarthy, who was strongly linked with the job last time around, gets asked the question.

He was, he says, “proud” to hold the role before, adding that “if there’s no manager in it and I’m out of work and someone asked me to do it, of course I’d do it”.

If he thinks that is going to be the last word on it, he is wrong and the standard game of cat and mouse follows. “Is there really this much hunger for me to say I’d like the job?” he asks, as one scenario after another is put to him and he starts to remember, perhaps, what it used to be like the last time he was Ireland manager.

“These are all hypotheticals, are they? Well, let’s ask another hypothetical question. If in two months time there isn’t a manager in Ireland, and Pep Guardiola decides that because they didn’t finish in the Champions League that he’s not going to Manchester City, if I was offered both jobs, which one would I take? We’d find out then, wouldn’t we, how much pride is favoured over £5 million a year or whatever, I don’t know.

Look, he concludes: “I am good at what I do and that’s something to be proud of, and not always wanting to be chasing something else because if it happens, it happens.

“You know what, I’ve been in just about the top 26 of 92 managers for the last 24 years and with the Republic of Ireland we went from 39th to 13th, was it? I reckon I’ve had a pretty good managerial career and I’m proud and pleased of that.”

In any case, he occasionally points out, O’Neill has done the job he was hired to do and may be around for quite some time. Certainly, he says, the issue of the current manager’s contract seems to be slightly overblown.

“We got to the last 16, didn’t we?” says McCarthy of the World Cup in 2002 when his own future was famously up in the air.

“We had a pretty good tournament so it didn’t really affect me, not at all. I never gave it a thought. Besides, if you have a bad tournament, you can still get the sack. And if you are under contract, you can walk away, resign, which ultimately I did anyway. There are lots of ways out of contracts. I don’t see what the issue is.”

Unfinished business

O’Neill, he says, might well catch the eye of a big club. “His record in the Premier League speaks for itself . . . Aston Villa haven’t missed him, have they?” he adds ironically. And there has occasionally been the sense that he feels he has some unfinished business in England. McCarthy, though, insists that he has none here.

"Oh, I've got no unfinished business," he says with his trademark smile. "I mean, I'd have to get to the quarter-finals or semi-finals of a World Cup to improve on what I did before, or European Championships because I didn't qualify. That's the only one regret that I have, that we didn't qualify [for Euro 2000] when we were 1-0 up in Macedonia. I have no other regrets at all from my time in the job."

Mick McCarthy was speaking at a press conference where he was announced as Paddy Power’s Euro 2016 ambassador.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Industry and Employment Correspondent at The Irish Times