Mick McCarthy is a respected figure in the Football League having guided both Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers to Championship titles, consolidating the latter in the Premier League.
A solid period as Republic of Ireland boss, that saw the Barnsley-born man take The Green Army to the first knockout round at the 2002 World Cup, has also bolstered the fifty-eight year-old’s reputation.
Appointed at Ipswich Town in 2012, following the indifferent spells of Roy Keane and Paul Jewell, he introduced stability and established a platform for a club operating on a modest budget to compete in the upper echelons of the league.
Rescuing the side from relegation initially he’s proceeded to secure three top ten finishes and even reached the play-offs in 2014-15, losing out to rivals Norwich City in the semi-finals.
Yet support for him has steadily declined since placing sixth that year.
The Tractor Boys narrowly missed out on the play-offs the following campaign and last season plummeted down the table to place sixteenth- the club’s lowest finish since 1959.
That prompted some sections of Portman Road to call for the manager’s dismissal, with the club perceived to be in stagnation under the former Lyon defender’s stewardship.
However, in an era of unprecedented ‘player power’ that has contributed to manager’s being more disposable than the men beneath them, it’s refreshing to see a board maintain their faith in a long-serving figure at the club. And that faith instilled in McCarthy is being rewarded with Ipswich excelling early on in the new season, with the former Milwall coach seeking a resurgence after last year’s disappointments.
Edging past Birmingham City 1-0 at home on opening day they followed that up with a 2-0 triumph at Luton Town in the EFL Cup, who were fresh from mauling Yeovil Town 8-2 at the weekend, and they completed a terrific week by coming from behind to defeat Barnsley 2-1 at Oakwell.
Midweek action resumed in the Championship as The Tractor Boys prevailed 4-3 against newly-promoted Millwall at The Den and four consecutive league victories were completed with a commanding 2-0 win over struggling Brentford.
They displayed a variety of attributes in their first five fixtures that were essential to McCarthy’s previous teams’ league success at this level.
Grinding out a result with a spirited performance against Birmingham; negating the attacking threat of a rampant Luton side; having the resilience to overcome a deficit at Barnsley; when their defensive resolve failed them at Millwall they still ensured they were on the right end of the scoreline and demonstrated a professionalism to dispatch of lowly Brentford with relative comfort.
The constant theme being they emerged with the three points.
Considering the disparity in finances when compared against other potential promotion candidates, Ipswich have arguably been punching above their weight for most of McCarthy’s tenure and his ability to operate shrewdly in the transfer market has been integral to their good start.
The acquisitions of Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner from Rangers particularly stand out, with the pair firing seven goals in eight matches between them.
Experienced campaigners such as David McGoldrick and captain Luke Chambers, as well as exciting talents Teddy Bishop and Manchester City loanee Bersant Celina add to a squad that’s growing in depth and growing in confidence.
The season is still in its embryonic stages but the early signs are promising for McCarthy, who has responded to criticism in the ideal manner with his start to the year, and his team ahead of another arduous Championship campaign.