Sheffield Wednesday: McCarthy wants happy return

Mick McCarthy, then Wolves boss, is restrained by fourth offical Mike Riley at Hillsborough in 2007 as he rages against a tackle for which Wednesday's Frankie Simek was sent off, In the background are the then Owls manager Brian Laws and his assistant Russ Wilcox
Mick McCarthy, then Wolves boss, is restrained by fourth offical Mike Riley at Hillsborough in 2007 as he rages against a tackle for which Wednesday's Frankie Simek was sent off, In the background are the then Owls manager Brian Laws and his assistant Russ Wilcox
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Ipswich’s visit to Hillsborough will revive some happy memories for manager and ex-Barnsley star Mick McCarthy.

The Tractor Boys chief recalls fondly the South Yorkshire derby battles between the Owls and his former club.

He said, tongue in cheek: “It’s always all right for me because I’m from Barnsley and we love each other, Sheffield and Barnsley!

“I’m still remembered from launching Terry Curran into one of the stands there! It’s always a nice, happy place for me to go

“It’s a great ground. I’ve been and watched semi-finals there. When I was playing at Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday was a big club with a big ground that everyone aspired to, really.”

Today the Barnsley-born 54-year-old is aiming for points to help make Ipswich safe though to Wednesday fans the lack of a win for their team would be more upsetting than one of his tackles on former Hillsborough idol and star player Curran.

McCarthy is well aware of the strengths of the current Owls team: “I watched them at Millwall. Sheffield Wednesday are a big, powerful team, and they’ve got some decent players in amongst that.

“One of them, Olifinjana, I had at Wolves on loan from Hull. He’s a nice, talented footballer. The wingers have got a bit of pace. It will be a difficult game for us.”

Charting Wednesday’s season, he also said: “They started well, they’ve had a couple of little rallies too. They won a couple and suddenly looked out of sight only to be dragged back into it.

“That’s happened to a lot of clubs. Burnley looked to be well out of it at one point, Derby were talking about the play-offs and now they’re suddenly beneath us. It’s crazy.”

Ipswich have reached the 56-point mark that he had thought would seal survival. But they are still not mathematically safe.

“I thought 56 points would be enough, but clearly it isn’t,” he said. “It’s a nonsense league. We’re halfway up the table but only five points away from the relegation zone so clearly we still have work to do. We are in a much better position than a lot of other clubs, though.”

Ipswich have won four of their last six games. The victories were 1-0, 3-0 and 3-0 at home to Bolton, Leeds, and Crystal Palace (on Tuesday) and 1-0 at Derby; they drew 0-0 at Millwall and were beaten 2-1 at home by Hull.