Everton fans fume as McCarthy flattered by United rumours
James McCarthy caused a storm on Merseyside yesterday when he admitted he was flattered by the speculation linking him with a move to Manchester United.
The 23-year-old Republic of Ireland international still has four years left on his Everton contract but is reportedly attracting interest from the new regime at Old Trafford – news which he appears to be welcoming but which has caused a negative response from Toffees fans on social media.
"If a club like Manchester United are interested, obviously you are doing a good job," said McCarthy. "We will see what happens."
So far in this transfer window plenty has happened at Everton. Ross Barkley yesterday signed a new contract, following the lead Seamus Coleman took last month. Plus Gareth Barry has returned to the club and talks are ongoing with Romelu Lukaku to persuade him to sign from Chelsea.
In this context, the last thing Roberto Martinez wants is to see his £13m midfielder expressing disgruntlement. Yet after showing signs of flirtation with United, he quickly changed tact.
"I loved playing for Wigan," said McCarthy. "They won the FA Cup but (with their relegation) getting back to playing in the Premier League was a big target and it was wonderful to do so with Everton.
"It was an eye opener: all that history and the fan base. The fans have been brilliant from day one. I'm loving it."
Plus, working with Martinez remains an attraction. "I've known him five years now and he's brilliant," said McCarthy.
"Last season, the lads here knew he wanted to change the system and they adapted very quickly and well. They are a great set of lads and, with the gaffer bringing in Gareth Barry, I have just loved it.
"We had the highest points' tally we have ever had in the Premier League (72 points and finishing above Tottenham and Manchester United) which was brilliant."
Yet not brilliant enough to guide Everton into the Champions League. Instead the less hyped and less generously financed Europa League is their destination.
"A lot of people say the Europa League is not such a big thing but it was a massive achievement for each and every one of us at the club.
"Given how it will be a long season with European football mixing with domestic action, I'm sure the gaffer will bring in a rotation system.
"To be honest, I'm looking forward to getting going again. It is a big season ahead and our main aim is to get into the Champions League. We want to improve on last season and push on even further.
"Everyone's dream is to win the Premier League, isn't it? Liverpool nearly did that. Obviously, we won't get carried away and will give it our best shot."
He sings a similar tune about Ireland. The flat end to last year's World Cup campaign resulted in a change of regime and all of a sudden a tidal wave of goodwill has returned to the international scene, although results remain poor.
"Not qualifying for the World Cup was a big disappointment but now we've got this opportunity and, hopefully, we can achieve big things with the Euros.
"When we meet up in camp we'll get everybody focused on the goals that we want to achieve. You want to qualify for big tournaments."
In other news, Sligo Rovers yesterday released Ross Gaynor, who has attracted interest from Bray and Drogheda.