English-Irish manager Mick McCarthy (AFP PHOTO)|
Mick McCarthy’s marriage to Wolverhampton Wanderers ended on Monday morning, abruptly but not surprisingly.
Hours earlier his team had been beaten 5-1 at home by their fiercest rivals, the Baggies from West Brom.
The defeat was one too many for owner Steve Morgan, a man so passionate about his club that he was away on a skiing holiday with his kids as Mick’s Wolves career went downhill.
Morgan may not have been at Molineux, but his hand was still all over the handle of the axe that fell on Mick’s head before breakfast had been digested on Monday.
Just five and a half years after he arrived at a Championship club with no hope, Mick’s time there was brought to an end. Five plus years ruined by five goals conceded.
Such is the way of football, and no one knows that better than Mick McCarthy.
He may have turned Wolverhampton Wanderers around. He may have got them out of the Championship and kept them in the Premier League by the skin of their teeth, not once but twice.
Mick may even have beaten Manchester United and Chelsea and Liverpool and Arsenal in his time in the aptly named Black Country, but all that counted for nothing when those five West Brom goals came home to roost less than 24 hours after the event.
There is no room for sentiment in the funny old game, a game that is seldom funny as it happens.
Morgan backed McCarthy last week but didn’t back him when it really mattered – in the transfer window.
He has never put his hands into his deep pockets and signed a really big name for Wolves, a really big player for one of England’s oldest and proudest clubs.
Morgan -- as he is quite entitled to do if you look at the current plight of Glasgow Rangers -- was more worried about keeping the budget in order. He was more interested in rebuilding the stadium than the team.
That’s why Mick had to work within the limited resources and pay the ultimate price -- with his job.
When he left Wolves on Monday he left with his head held high. He told his players to ensure they moved onwards and upwards in their careers, and he vowed to do the same.
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Now enjoying a well-earned holiday, he vowed to bounce back when we spoke on Monday afternoon. And he will.
Already there is talk of interest from Leeds United and their “colorful” owner Ken Bates, who knows well that Mick’s best gigs to date have been dragging sleeping giants out of the Championship and into the Premier League.
He has never had a chance to win the Premier League simply because the owners at Sunderland and Wolves have had neither that ambition nor that sort of cash.
Personally, I’d love to see how he would handle a big budget and big names in English football’s top tier, but we may have to wait.
As Roy Keane will tell you, the wait for another job can be a long one. Keano, as you would expect, has already been linked with following Mick into Wolves, just as he followed him into Sunderland, sort of.
Like Mick, Roy knows there is only one guarantee in football management -- the sack.
That sack arrived ahead of the Valentine’s Day card for Mick McCarthy on Monday and the loss, I hope, will be Steve Morgan’s. He deserves nothing less.
Great to See Boylan Back
The good news from Meath is that the great Sean Boylan is alive and well and ready to manage a football team once again.
Sean, one of the nicest men you will ever meet on this planet or any other, is to take charge of the Leinster football team for the inter-provincial series this weekend.
His return to management, for his first gig since running the Irish Compromise Rules team, will be a little more low-key than his days in charge of Meath. It may also, I suspect, be more precious to the Dunboyne herbalist.
Not so long ago Boylan went to his doctor with a pain in his backside and was then diagnosed with prostate cancer before he underwent serious surgery.
On Monday, at a press conference ahead of the inter-provincial series, he spoke of his experience and his recovery.
“If you said to me three years ago that I’d be managing a football team again, I’d have told you that there wasn’t a hope in hell,” he said.
“Out of the blue I pulled a muscle in the cheek of my backside, went to the doctor and then you find a tumor and your life stands still.
“When your eldest boy is 16 and your youngest child is just five, there are six kids -- you start to think, ‘What am I putting on the family?’
“You see what can be done with modern medicine, plus a little help from our own stuff as well, you see your life turn around.
“So it’s a joy and a huge pleasure and a marvelous honor to be back.”
Boylan, as always, spoke with dignity, sense and purpose when he said those few words on Monday afternoon.
No doubt his voice will be raised an octave or two higher when he stands on the sidelines again this coming Saturday for the inter-pro semifinal. It will be great to see him back.
RUGBY: The shock and horror in the RTE studio when the referee called off Saturday night’s game against France with just two minutes to kick-off had to be seen to be believed. Presenter Tom McGurk demanded to know why a rugby match was scheduled for nine o’clock on a freezing Saturday night in Paris. Thankfully, analyst George Hook put him in his place and pointed out that TV demanded the late kick-off at a time of maximum audience exposure.
And that, as Hook admirably pointed out, is the same TV business that employs McGurk. For the first time in a long time, I take my hat off to George Hook.
SOCCER: A lot of people have been shocked by the fact that Giovanni Trapattoni left James McClean out of his squad for the forthcoming friendly against the Czech Republic, but not me. Trap is old school Italian, a man who knows the meaning of the word loyalty. McClean is doing great at Sunderland, there’s no doubt about that, but he played no part in getting Ireland to Poland this summer and that is why he will have to wait for his chance. Injury may yet open the door to McClean, but the World Cup is more likely to be his stage come the autumn qualifiers.
SOCCER: Loved the text from my old mate Eamonn Toal, the 2000 Eurovision singer, as the once great Rangers struggle to survive in these difficult financial times for all of us. “What has Ibrox got in common with supermarket chain Tesco?” he asked before replying, “Nothing – yet!” Think about it.
SOCCER: And speaking of funny texts, what about the one that went the rounds when Fabio Capello resigned as England manager last week. “Just another Italian deserting a sinking ship,” it read. Very cruel in light of the cruise ship disaster in Italy – but worth a smile nonetheless.
HERO OF THE WEEK
JP McManus is better known as Ireland’s best racehorse owner, but he helped Padraig Harrington get back to winning ways with their AT&T Pro-Am victory in Pebble Beach on Sunday night and for that we should all be grateful. The Irish pair won the pro-am thanks to some good putting from McManus and some decent golf from Harrington. More important the smile is back on Padraig’s face, and that can only do his confidence a world of good in a Ryder Cup year. We need him back in the winner’s enclosure, and this is a start.
IDIOT OF THE WEEK
LUIZ Suarez should never have been allowed to play football again after cheating Ghana out of a place in the World Cup semifinal two years ago. His deliberate handball that night was bad enough, but the gloating he engaged in when Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty was a disgrace. That’s why his outrageous behavior at the weekend, when he refused to shake hands with Patrice Evra, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Suarez is a cheat and doesn’t deserve to wear the red shirt of Liverpool.