Sport Italia 90

Sunday 25 February 2018

Charlton is right to stand by McCarthy

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Italia 90, we will be reliving all the action from that memorable World Cup

June 1990; Republic of Ireland Manager Jack Charlton has a quick word with Captain Mick McCarthy
June 1990; Republic of Ireland Manager Jack Charlton has a quick word with Captain Mick McCarthy

By Billy Bingham

IT will probably surprise quite a few SUNDAY INDEPENDENT readers to learn that Mick McCarthy would be a must for inclusion in the side I would select to face Bobby Robson's beleaguered England team.

Much of the success of Charlton as a manager and the Republic as a team has been built on determination and confidence, and McCarthy is probably the supreme example of this. Few — if any — of the two dozen teams bidding for glory in Italy over the next four weeks will include a player with the same commitment as the Irish captain. McCarthy may not be the fastest player in the game but he is very much a leader.

The Charlton school of football demands that a player be prepared to give nothing less than 100% every time he takes the field. Jack's team would never be regarded as among the world's most skilful, yet, provided that requirement is met, the Republic are capable of competing on level terms with just about any team in the world.

And McCarthy, better than any of the other of the 21 players in the Republic's squad, fully understands the Charlton way of thinking. What's more, he makes sure everybody else sticks to Big Jack's game-plan. I'd play David O'Leary alongside McCarthy to compensate for Big Mick's lack of pace. But I'm not sure Jack will agree. Kevin Moran has never let him down and Jack is sure to think long and hard before breaking up the Moran-McCarthy axis — despite its clear lack of pace.

The loss of Ronnie Whelan is, without doubt, a major blow to Irish hopes of repeating their shock Stuttgart triumph. But, given just an even share of the breaks, I am convinced that the Republic are capable of earning a draw.

 That in itself would be a tremendous morale booster for Charlton's men — and a strong enough platform from which to progress into the second phase.

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