Category: Archive

Commentary: McCarthy is on the move

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The following night, they destroyed Rotherham 4-1 and on Saturday beat Cardiff 2-1 to keep the club’s bid for automatic promotion to the Premiership on track.
“There were a few heated exchanges about the Brighton game, then it was over with,” McCarthy said. “It was more about being relaxed and not being het up. We won on Tuesday, so they must work to some extent.
“I encourage players to voice frustrations. Whoever is to blame is blamed. They should be told what they have done. It’s healthy. The best teams have always had it and that’s important.”
Watching Sunderland vie it out with Wigan and Ipswich Town for one of the two guaranteed tickets back to the big time , it’s become more and more apparent that McCarthy is a much-improved manager. Far removed from the guy who squired Ireland to the World Cup without ever addressing the problem of his non-relationship with the team’s best player, he appears in utter control of everything that happens at the club. Lately, most of what’s happening there has been so good the fans’ biggest worry is that McCarthy is on a rolling contract and could depart at the end of the current campaign.
Having inherited a club bloated by too many past-it players on long contracts, McCarthy’s real achievement has been cutting the flab from the balance sheet while still keeping them in the promotion chase two seasons running. The secret may lie in the type of deals he’s given his squad. Arriving at the Stadium of Light with a reputation as injury prone, Michael Bridges had a clause in his deal requiring him to be fit for more than 50 percent of the fixtures. When he went past that threshold recently, he was rewarded with another year. Before that, Northern Ireland midfielder Jeff Whitley received an automatic 12-month extension after playing his 26th game of this season.
“There can be all sorts of stipulations in a contract and that one I put in and it’s worked well because he’s earned his contract,” McCarthy said of Whitely. “I know Jeff gets much maligned at times by some people, but I think his contribution since he came to this club has been great.”
It was commonly and quite correctly asserted throughout McCarthy’s reign as Ireland boss that he’d got the job too early in his career. Having barely got his feet wet in charge of Millwall, he was thrown in at the deep end of international football. Every mistake he made — and nobody’s forgetting there were plenty of them — was amplified because the Irish team plays only a handful of competitive games each year and every one matters. Now he’s finally produced an entertaining side that wins as it wows.
“Sunderland are the best team we’ve played for a long, long time,” Cardiff’s manager, Lennie Lawrence, said last Saturday. “Their passing and movement were most impressive; they are very dangerous.”
One of the keys to victory over Cardiff was an excellent championship debut by left winger Andy Welsh. He wasn’t even a regular in the first-team at Stockport County when McCarthy picked him up for

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