As Sunderland prepare to entertain Wolves, Salut! Sunderland extends a hearty welcome to Mick McCarthy for what we hope will be a viist he enjoys for the warmth of his reception, but not the result. Colin Randall takes the opportunity of recalling the day he came to the aid of the party …
Dec 10 2004. The eve of a 2-0 win at Cardiff on our way to an easy Championship title and promotion under Mick McCarthy.
Also the eve of a flatwarming party I was throwing after moving to Paris. Friends from Sunderland, on their way to join us for the weekend, bumped into the team at Newcastle Airport. Mrs Friend had a bright idea: she bought a “congratulations on your new home” card and marched up to Mick to get him to sign it.
He obliged without hesitation, writing a cheery little note with the PS: “And my invitation? In the post, is it?”
I liked Mick. Even when Keano was our hero, I knew who’d had right on his side in the Ireland World Cup spat, and it wasn’t our hero.
Mick did wonders for us on a shoestring, reaching the FA Cup semi-final and the playoffs in his first full season and romping back to the Premier in the next.
Life was tougher for him when we were actually in the Premier. Stuck in my memory is the mischievous Football Pools-style way in which one Sunderland fan summed up MM’s win/draw/lose sequence as our Premier manager:
And that was only Jan 2006. I mentioned the run in a piece in the Telegraph (under the headline That Sinking Feeling Again) and noted sadly that a game against Chelsea had just added another L. More Ls were to follow before Mick’s departure and another record-breaking low points tally (thanks Derby for capturing that honour from us).
That said, I thought he had done as good a job as was humanly possible given the lack of resources at his disposal. And I do wonder, as I asked Wolves fans this week, what he would have done with the sort of money Keano and Bruce have had to spend.
Welcome back, Mick. You’re a top bloke. Sorry about the party invite.
Salut! Sunderland forecast: SAFC 3 Wolves 1