Mick McCarthy: 'I was never going to turn down a chance to manage the Ireland team'

Mon, Nov 26 2018

Dave Donnelly reports from the Aviva Stadium

Mick McCarthy cut a relaxed figure on his appointment in a time-limited role as Republic of Ireland manager on Sunday afternoon.

The Yorkshireman has been appointed to lead his national team for the second time with one clear remit – qualification for the 2020 European Championships.

Dublin will host three games at the first pan-European games in two years time and he knows, regardless of his outcome, he’ll be out of a job come the end of that summer.

The 59-year-old is in a unique position as Ireland manager in that he knows his successor – Stephen Kenny will succeed him for the World Cup 2022 campaign.

The Tallaght man has stepped down from the Dundalk post he’s held since 2012 to take up the role as Ireland under-21 manager before taking up the role of national team manager after McCarthy.

“We’ll see, won’t we, whether it’s a good decision to come back,” McCarthy said at the press conference announcing his appointment at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

“If, when, how we qualify for the Euros makes how successful or not I am. I was never going to turn the chance down to take the job. It’s been mooted on a number of occasions.

“Anytime a new manager has been going to be selected, I always seem to have a few more Irish journalists at the press conference, wherever I might be, asking if I wanted to take the job.

“And my answer to that was always, if I was out of work or if the job comes up, it’s always possible I’ll take it. We’ll see if it’s a good decision in two years’ time, but I’m looking forward to it.”

McCarthy enjoyed success as Ireland manager between 1996 and 2002, reaching play-offs in each of his three campaigns, and leading the nation to the last 16 of the World Cup in Korea and Japan.

Having taken the job as a fresh-faced 36-year-old with four years experience at Millwall, McCarthy has since managed in the English Premier League with Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He won the Championship with both clubs, and most recently spent six years overachieving with Ipswich Town in the same division.

McCarthy stood down from that position in April, amid fan discontent, but the man who captained Ireland to the quarter-finals at Italia ’90 jumped at the chance to lead his country once more.

The straitened circumstances simplify his job somewhat, though few would envy the task that faces him in mounting an effective challenge by March with no friendly games to prepare.

“I’ve got to say it’s vital [to qualify for the Euros], isn’t it?”

“If I was taking whatever job for two years, it’s vital that I qualify. As I said before, if I do well and we qualify I can hand it on to Stephen and that will be wonderful.

“If I don’t, and we don’t do well, then people might not be glad to see the back of me in terms of how I work and the atmosphere that I create, but ultimately it’s results that count.

“If we don’t qualify, I guess I’ll be off and Stephen might be taking it early.”

The draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers takes place in Dublin next Sunday, with Ireland’s poor run in 2018 under Martin O’Neill placing them in pot three, with just two automatic places on offer.

“It’s never easy. I turned up for the World Cup draw and that was supposedly the group of death, and we got through it.

“I’ll be turning up full of excitement with the fact I’m the manager and I’ll be taking the team for that tournament.

“I’ll have my fingers and toes crossed and hope we get a really favourable draw. Whatever that is, I don’t know.”