Former Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy was born in Barnsley, on this day in 1959. McCarthy managed the Black Cats for three years, winning the Championship in 2005.
LIVING HIS BOYHOOD DREAM
McCarthy began his career at boyhood club Barnsley, he made his debut for them in the fourth division on the 20th of August 1977, where the Tykes beat Rochdale 4-0. He spent two years in the basement league, before the club won promotion. He became a strong central defender, who was ever-present for Barnsley in Division Two. He eventually left the club in December 1983 for Manchester City.
HIS PLAYING CAREER
The centre back had spells at Manchester City, Celtic, Lyon, and Millwall, where he won the Scottish league and cup double, and the Scottish Cup. McCarthy went on to make 505 senior appearances throughout his career, and he eventually took over as Millwall manager in 1992.
HIS MANAGERIAL CAREER
McCarthy took over at Millwall in 1992, succeeding Bruce Rioch. In his first full season he was registered as a player, but only made one further appearance in the Anglo-Italian Cup, before he became solely the manager. The Barnsley lad took Millwall to the play-off semi finals in 1994, where they lost to Derby County. He then became the new Republic of Ireland manager in 1996, he stayed there for six years before leaving in 2002.
Mick McCarthy arrived at Sunderland on the 12th of March 2003, he took over from struggling Howard Wilkinson. Our Vice Chairman John Fickling suggested that the appointment wasn’t based on the short term for the nine remaining games of the season, but instead it was an appointment that gave Mick ‘the chance to pursue a strategy for the summer and beyond’. Basically, we were down and McCarthy had the task of rebuilding what was essentially a First Division team and gaining promotion the following season.
McCarthy was aware of why he was appointed. We were destined to go down – his task now was to take us straight back up. We lost our opening two fixtures but then went on a run of 7 wins from our next 10 matches. Our form was often hit and miss like this and a few patches of poor results meant that we were outside of the top two and had to enter the lottery of the play-offs Towards the end of the season, we a six-pointer to promotion rivals West Brom which dispelled any hope of the automatics. We finished third with 79 points but lost in the play-offs in a penalty shoot-out to Crystal Palace. Palace had scored a controversial stoppage-time equaliser, with keeper Poom the obvious victim of foul play, to take the game to pens, the absolute worst way to end a season. Over the previous fourteen months he’d become popular with the fans through a combination of straight talking and willingness to attend fan functions and talk-ins, happy to share a chat and a cuppa on the terraces at reserve fixtures. Very much a “pint of bitter” bloke.
The next season though, we finished with 94 points, seven ahead of Wigan – enough to clinch the title, making us the first winners of the newly rebranded but now established ‘Championship’. But life in the Premier League was difficult to acclimatise to for McCarthy, in part due to lack of adequate investment. We ended up with a truly pathetic 15 points, somehow managing to have an even worse season than under Wilkinson, and establishing a new record low points total in the process. Obviously, with form like that, McCarthy couldn’t stay in the job and around his three-year Sunderland anniversary, he was sacked.
After leaving Sunderland, McCarthy went on to manage Wolves, Ipswich, Republic of Ireland (again), APOEL, and Cardiff. On the 19th of January McCarthy returned the Championship, where he joined second bottom Blackpool on a short term contract until the end of the season.