Town boss Mick McCarthy shares his matchday programme column with the Club website
Welcome back to Portman Road for today’s Championship game against one of the form teams in the division, Millwall. They are unbeaten in their last 13 games so Kenny Jackett’s side will certainly be full of confidence this afternoon.
Confidence is vital in any sport – in life – and in our recent performances, I think there is a growing belief coming back into the players.
When I arrived here just over a month ago, there was a lot of finger pointing going on amongst the players as to reasons why it wasn’t working on the pitch. That happens in football when you are losing games.
It’s never down to individuals or one single part of the team, it’s a collective thing. It’s only collectively that you are going to change that mentality – by winning matches as a team.
The players have bought into that and what we are trying to achieve on the training ground and on matchday and there are encouraging signs but there is a long way to go yet before we can say we have achieved something.
We’re out of the bottom three, yes, but it’s where we are on May 4 that counts. We can’t fall into the trap of looking down and thinking we are getting away from the relegation battle. We have to keep working hard because if we don’t we will straight back in there again.
It’s an old cliché but it’s about the next game for us. No targets beyond that and that means Millwall this afternoon.
It’s game that we go into on the back of a great result at Bolton last weekend. We got slapped at Palace and Leicester in our two away games before going to the Reebok but there was never any sign that we would capitulate like we did in those games, despite going behind to a terrific goal early on.
The first-half was pretty ordinary for both teams. Actually, let’s have it right, the game was awful to be honest but we were much better after the break and having got back level, I wanted us to go on and win the game. The players deserve a lot of credit for doing that.
The three substitutes had a big part to play in that and that is what you want from your subs. You want them to go on and save the game, or win you the game. You want them to make an impact and they all did that. Jay was a handful when he went on, Murph won the penalty and Michael Chopra did what goalscorers do, was in the right place at the right time to get the winner.
I’m pleased for Chops. He has shown an excellent attitude since I’ve been here. He has played for the U21s, been on the bench, had to wait for his chance but he’s got on with it. He got his rewards last weekend.
I still expect Bolton to be up there come the end of the season but they and the other relegated clubs, Blackburn and Wolves have not had the start to the season they would have hoped for.
There is definitely a hangover from being relegated from the Premier League and there is a pressure to make an immediate return as well. The increase in parachute payments over recent years have helped the relegated clubs but if there is a huge outlay in an attempt to get back to the Premier League and it doesn’t work out, that can lead to financial problems.
Thanks to Marcus the financial side of our Club is in good hands but the legacy of being out of the Premier League for so long is probably the relegation scrap that we are in at the moment.
I was at Bristol on Tuesday night to see the U18s progress in the Youth Cup and I have been impressed with some of the youngsters here. I had a very active role with the Academy in my time at Wolves. I had a good relationship with the staff there and that made it easier to integrate the players from youth level into training with the first-team.
Every club wants to see homegrown players progress into the first-team. We have a few here at Ipswich and hopefully there will be more to follow from the current group.
Finally, I’d like to welcome Kenny, his staff and the Millwall players to Portman Road. I was proud to play for Millwall and then started my managerial career there 20 years ago so I have a close affinity with the club. I wish them all the best – but not for 90 minutes this afternoon!
Keep up that fantastic support and enjoy the game.