Sunday 4 December 2016

'That pissed me off': Mick McCarthy on why Louis van Gaal's cocky Dutch side annoyed him in 2001

Published 25/05/2016 | 10:09

Louis van Gaal has naturally been in the news a lot over the last few days after being sacked as Manchester United manager, but Mick McCarthy has revealed why the coach and the Dutch national team seriously annoyed him almost 15 years ago.

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McCarthy's Ireland team welcomed van Gaal's Netherlands side to Lansdowne Road for a crunch World Cup qualifier in 2001, with the Boys in Green only needing a draw to seal a playoff spot after a stellar qualifying campaign.

The star-studded Oranje were heavily favoured to overcome the Irish side but roared on by a passionate crowd, Jason McAteer fired Ireland to a legendary 1-0 win.

Speaking to Paddy Power, McCarthy said the victory was the highlight of his time in charge and revealed how the Dutch's overconfidence helped motivate his side to upset the European heavyweights.

“Prior to that game against the Netherlands in Lansdowne Road in 2001, I knew that the Dutch had already booked flights hotels for the play-off and for the World Cup," McCarthy said.

"That just pissed me off completely. I made sure the lads knew all that and it made the team talk a bit easier.”

McAteer's emphatic finish past Edwin van der Sar is one of Irish football's great goals, but McCarthy admits that he didn't want the Irish midfielder to take the shot on.

"When the ball drops to Jason McAteer, I think we’re all telling him ‘f*cking hell, take a touch’ and then he hits it first time and we’re all on our feet, ‘what a goal!’" McCarthy said.

"That was just wonderful, an unbelievable day. I don’t think they could believe the intensity we played with. Once they brought Hasselbaink and Van Hooijdonk on and started hoofing long balls, I knew it wouldn’t work and I was convinced we’d win the game.”

The 2002 World Cup was the only major tournament Ireland qualified for under McCarthy after a string of near misses. Conceding an injury time equaliser to Macedonia, which deprived them of a place at Euro 2000, still rankles with the current Ipswich manager all these years later.

“That still pisses me off to this day," McCarthy said.

"It’s the only thing that still bothers me from my entire career with Ireland. I don’t have anyone to blame. I look at my substitutions that day and wonder did I do the right thing. If we keep that goal out, they’re great substitutions, if we don’t, they’re terrible. That’s one of the lowest points in my entire football career and it still irks me to this day.”

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