Thursday 22 March 2018

McCarthy fully focused on Ireland's D-Days after anxiety and relief of transfer window

James McCarthy cut a contended figure in Malahide
James McCarthy cut a contended figure in Malahide
David Kelly

David Kelly

It is one of the most enduring cliches in a sport where the word 'obviously' is the most coveted in a limited vocabulary.

"The transfer fee had nothing to do with me." Obviously.

Now is the season for falling chestnuts, though.

And so James McCarthy, now Irish soccer's third most expensive player ever, wasted little time in lobbing his own version of the predictable platitude.

"It happens, doesn't it?" he mused, his broad 22-year-old shoulders not observably sagging at any perceived burden of expectation from without.

"You see players going for huge money and obviously it's Wigan that wanted the money and it is not down to me.

"I am looking forward to it. It's a new challenge. I have had a few people on my case about it, and it's one I'm going to need to take in my stride.

"Hopefully, I can make the step up to a big club at Everton, and it's one I'm looking forward to.

"I am delighted to be back in the Premier League. It's a real excitement and a new challenge for myself."

Reportedly, McCarthy's first gesture in advance of his impending gargantuan leap in status was to buy his parents, Willie and Marie, a £1m house just a few miles from the council house in which he was brought up in Castlemilk on Glasgow's south side.

It was a nod more to his humble beginnings than an extravagant present.

McCarthy may speak in the reserved, clipped manner of a Premier League big-time player but that's where the comparison ends.

Nevertheless, McCarthy's weighty expectations have now been acquired by one of the big guns and, with growing pressure on him to develop as a pivotal international, too, it will be fascinating to glean his response on the field.

"It is a big challenge and one that I will give my best go at," he said. "These are exciting times. I am not going there to walk into the team, there is real competition for places and I know that.

"I have to work hard and prove that I am willing to go on and play."

No pressure then?

"Not at all," he insisted. "I am looking forward to it and looking forward to getting these two Ireland games under way. Then we will look forward to playing for Everton but at this moment in time, it is about these two games."

McCarthy's description of Monday's transfer window hinted at the immense frustration, followed by relief, involved.

"You're hearing different things throughout the day. It's the Premier League and you want to get back there as soon as possible. I'm no different to any other player.

"Everyone will tell you the Premier League is the place to be. When I heard Everton were interested I was delighted to go there and sign.

"It's great to be back with Roberto (Martinez). I was with him for four years and I know exactly the way he wants to play.

"Now I've got to get working hard on and off the pitch and it's not going to be easy. No disrespect to Wigan Athletic but you want to get back to the Premier League and I was delighted it happened.

"At times, I was wondering if it was going to happen. It was a long day. As anyone would be, I was a bit nervous at times, looking at the phone constantly to see what was happening.

"Obviously my agent was there as well. We were just waiting for that call to say it was happening and we were delighted when it did.

"It's a business at the end of the day, isn't it? I kept hearing that it was going to happen and then it wasn't going to happen and you start wondering if it's going to get pushed over the line.

"I'm stuck in the middle of it and it was a bit frustrating. But it's done now.

"It was about 10 to 11 when I was on my way to the training ground at that stage. We had 10 minutes to get the paperwork done and it was a relief. I wouldn't have gone to the training ground without confirmation. It was a long, long day."

But first, he has duty with his country, where pride, and not pounds, are the primary motivation under Giovanni Trapattoni.

"He wants to improve me as a player and I want to do that as well for myself. I am no different from anyone else and I want to play as many games as I can for my country. It is really exciting.

"It would be a great way to end the week, with a win. We want to win the game. It won't be easy but we will give it our best shot."

He didn't have to say obviously.

Irish Independent

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