Mick McCarthy

Michael Joseph McCarthy (born 7 February 1959) is a professional football manager, pundit, and former player. He is the manager of EFL Championship club Cardiff City.

Mick McCarthy
McCarthy managing Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2011
Personal information
Full name Michael Joseph McCarthy[1]
Date of birth (1959-02-07) 7 February 1959[1]
Place of birth Barnsley, England
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[2]
Position(s) Defender
Club information
Current team
Cardiff City (manager)
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1977–1983 Barnsley 272 (7)
1983–1987 Manchester City 140 (2)
1987–1989 Celtic 48 (8)
1989–1990 Lyon 10 (1)
1990Millwall (loan) 6 (0)
1990–1992 Millwall 29 (2)
Total 505 (20)
National team
1979 Republic of Ireland U23 1 (1)
1984–1992 Republic of Ireland 57 (2)
Teams managed
1992–1996 Millwall
1996–2002 Republic of Ireland
2003–2006 Sunderland
2006–2012 Wolverhampton Wanderers
2012–2018 Ipswich Town
2018–2020 Republic of Ireland
2020–2021 APOEL
2021– Cardiff City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

McCarthy began his playing career at Barnsley in 1977, and he later had spells at Manchester City, Celtic, Lyon, and finally Millwall, retiring in 1992. He went on to manage Millwall then the Republic of Ireland. He guided Republic of Ireland to the knockout stage of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan. He later managed Sunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Ipswich Town. McCarthy began a second tenure as manager of the Republic of Ireland football team in November 2018,[3][4] leaving the position in April 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic having guided the team to a Euro 2020 playoff place. He joined Cypriot club APOEL as manager in November 2020, but was sacked two months later. He has also been a television pundit and commentator, including for the BBC and Virgin Media Television

Club career


Born in Barnsley, Yorkshire,[1] McCarthy made his league debut for then-Fourth Division Barnsley on 20 August 1977 in a 4–0 win over Rochdale. He spent two years in the basement league, before the club won promotion. Two years later, the team again went up to the (old) Division 2. A strong central defender, he was a virtual ever-present for his home town club, but departed in December 1983 for fellow Division 2 club Manchester City.

Manchester City

The Maine Road club won promotion in McCarthy's first full season and he finally had the chance to play at the highest level. His first season in the top flight was steady enough as the club reached mid-table, but relegation struck the following year. McCarthy himself would not face the drop though as he moved to Celtic in May 1987.[5]


He picked up his first silverware at the Scottish club as they won the league and cup double in his first season. The following season McCarthy again won a Scottish Cup winners medal,[6] although the club had to settle for third place in the league.[7]


McCarthy again moved onto a new country, as he joined Lyon on a three-year contract in July 1989.[6][8]


However, things did not work out for the defender in France and, feeling his international chances were being harmed, he returned to England on loan with top flight Millwall in March 1990.[6] Despite the London side suffering relegation during his loan period, McCarthy impressed enough to earn a move and he was signed permanently in May 1990 for £200,000. His appearances in the next two seasons were often limited by injuries and he effectively retired from playing when he took over as manager of the club in 1992.[9]

International career

McCarthy, the son of an Irish-born father, Charlie, is an Irish citizen since birth.[10] He made his Irish international debut in a goalless friendly against Poland on 23 May 1984, McCarthy soon became a first-choice player and featured in all three of Ireland's games at Euro '88. He went on to become captain, leading to the nickname "Captain Fantastic", as per the title of his autobiography.[11][12]

The highlight of McCarthy's international career was the second-round penalty shoot-out win over Romania in the 1990 World Cup finals. This led to a crunch tie with hosts Italy in the quarter-final, where Ireland's first ever appearance in the finals came to an end, losing 1–0. McCarthy was the player who committed the most fouls in the 1990 tournament.[9]

In total, McCarthy won 57 caps for the Republic of Ireland; scoring two goals, one against Yugoslavia in April 1988,[13] the other against the United States in May 1992.[14]

Managerial career


McCarthy became player-manager at Millwall in March 1992, succeeding Bruce Rioch. In his first full season (1992–93), he was still registered as a player, but made only one further appearance (in the Anglo-Italian Cup), before he became solely a manager.

He took the club to the play-offs in 1993–94 after a strong third-place finish, but they lost out to Derby County in the semi-finals. During the 1995–96 season, McCarthy became the prime candidate for the vacant Republic of Ireland manager's job, after the resignation of Jack Charlton. After a protracted period of speculation, McCarthy was officially appointed on 5 February 1996, two days after his resignation at the club. Despite sitting a comfortable 14 points clear from the relegation zone at the time of his departure, Millwall would go on to suffer the drop (by virtue of goals scored) after McCarthy's departure.

His loan signings of the underachieving Russian internationals Sergei Yuran and Vassili Kulkov from Spartak Moscow, who each received a £150,000 signing-on fee and were being paid five times the wage of the rest of the first team, would later be cited as one of the main reasons Millwall were eventually relegated under Jimmy Nicholl, although it cannot be proven.[15]

Republic of Ireland

In February 1996, McCarthy became the new manager of the Republic of Ireland football team following the resignation of Jack Charlton. McCarthy's first game in charge of the Republic of Ireland team was a friendly international against Russia on 27 March 1996 which finished in a 0–2 defeat.[16]

After two narrow failures to qualify for the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, McCarthy took the nation to the 2002 World Cup held in South Korea and Japan after a 2–1 play-off aggregate win against Iran.[17] However, their tournament was overshadowed by a very public and bitter spat between McCarthy and the team's star player Roy Keane, who was sent home on the eve of the tournament. The conflict occurred after Keane had questioned the quality of the preparations and facilities the team were using.[18]

Despite this furore, McCarthy's team reached the second round but were eliminated by Spain in a penalty shoot-out (after having already missed and scored a penalty in normal time), thus fractionally missing out on a quarter-final place. Indeed, the narrowness of the elimination meant Ireland were the ninth best performers at the World Cup, and the fifth best among European teams in the competition. In spite of this, the Keane issue remained, with the proportion of blame undecided. Many in Ireland sided with Keane – particularly following a televised interview in which details of poor preparation were revealed – and demanded McCarthy's resignation both during and after the tournament. An independent inquiry into the organisation's handling of the squad's preparation later commissioned by the FAI created a damning report, leading to general secretary Brendan Menton tendering his resignation.[19]

Criticism of McCarthy in the media became increasingly intense after a poor start to Ireland's qualifying campaign for Euro 2004. In particular, his persistence with several players and tactics that some perceived to be inadequate did him damage, as did a 4–2 away defeat to Russia and a 2–1 home defeat to Switzerland. Under mounting pressure, McCarthy resigned from the post on 5 November 2002.[20] During his 68 games in charge, the Republic of Ireland won 29, drew 20 and lost 19.[21]


On 12 March 2003, he was appointed manager of struggling Sunderland as an immediate replacement for Howard Wilkinson, who was sacked after six successive Premiership defeats left the club facing near-certain relegation.[22] McCarthy could not stop Sunderland's slide, and the Black Cats were relegated at the end of the season, but he largely escaped blame and was retained as manager. The following season, McCarthy took Sunderland to the First Division promotion play-offs, but lost in a penalty shoot-out to Crystal Palace after Palace had scored a stoppage-time equaliser.

McCarthy completed the turnaround of the club in the 2004–05 season. The Black Cats returned to the Premiership as Football League Championship champions, amassing an impressive 94 points.[23] Life in the Premiership was much tougher for McCarthy though, as he was unable to spend much to strengthen the team. After a poor season and with the club 16 points from safety with only 10 games remaining, he was dismissed on 6 March 2006.[24] In an ironic postscript, Sunderland eventually appointed Roy Keane as their next permanent manager.[25]

Wolverhampton Wanderers

On 21 July 2006, McCarthy was appointed manager at Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers,[26] replacing Glenn Hoddle who had departed a fortnight before. The Midlands club faced an uncertain future after having to sell the majority of their first-team players, though despite this situation, McCarthy promised Premier League football at Molineux within three seasons. From this awkward position, McCarthy managed to collect together a team from the club's youth ranks, and some lower league signings, and free transfers. Despite the lack of expectations, the team managed to make the promotion play-offs in McCarthy's first season, but it was third time unlucky for McCarthy in them as the team lost out to local rivals West Bromwich Albion over two legs, losing 3–2 at Molineux and 1–0 at The Hawthorns.

In the 2007–08 season he took the club to within a single placing of a successive play-off finish, ending seventh, losing the coveted sixth place to Watford by a goal difference of only one (although another goal would have been required to overcome Watford's superior goals scored record). The campaign had also seen him linked with the international positions of South Korea and his previous post as Republic of Ireland manager.[27]

The 2008–09 season started well for McCarthy as he won the August Championship Manager of the Month Award, after seeing his side reach the top of the table,[28] eventually going on to match Wolves' record start to a season (equaling the 1949–50 season). Wolves maintained their position at the top of the table over the following months, and McCarthy again won the Manager of the Month Award for November.[29] After maintaining top spot since October, McCarthy's Wolves secured promotion to the Premier League by beating QPR 1–0 on 18 April 2009. The following week McCarthy clinched his second Championship as a manager after a 1–1 draw at his hometown club Barnsley. He won the Championship Manager of the Season Award at the conclusion of the campaign, his side having led the table for 42 of 46 games.

The following season, McCarthy kept Wolves in the Premier League, his first success at this level in three attempts. The club assured safety with two games to spare, eventually finishing 15th, their best league finish since 1979–80, and their first ever survival in the modern Premier League. However, in the process of keeping the team in the top division, Wolves and McCarthy were fined £25,000 for fielding a weakened team for a fixture at Manchester United and thus breaking the Premier League rule E20. The Premier League also stated that the club had failed to fulfil its obligations to the league and other clubs in the utmost good faith and was therefore in breach of Rule B13.[30]

The club's second consecutive top flight campaign was a dramatic one. The team spent the majority of the campaign mired in the relegation zone, yet managed to defeat the likes of Manchester City,[31] Manchester United,[32] Liverpool[33] and Chelsea.[34] A final day loss to Blackburn put them in danger of relegation, but results elsewhere meant they narrowly survived in 17th place, one point ahead of relegated Birmingham and Blackpool.[35] This gave McCarthy the distinction of being the first Wolves manager in thirty years to maintain the club's top flight position for two successive seasons.

The 2011–12 season began well for McCarthy and, after three games, his team topped the Premier League with 7 points.[36] However, results tailed off and by January they had once again entered the relegation zone after nine games without victory. That same season Wolves sold £15 million worth of players and with the board allowing McCarthy to spend just £12 million it seemed inevitable when McCarthy was sacked as Wolves manager on 13 February 2012[37] after a run of poor results, culminating in a 5–1 home defeat to local rivals West Bromwich Albion.[38] At the time of his dismissal, he was the 7th longest-serving current manager in English league football, having spent 5 years and 207 days at Wolves.

Ipswich Town

McCarthy managing Ipswich Town in 2016

On 1 November 2012, McCarthy was appointed manager at Championship side Ipswich Town[39] on a two and a half-year contract.[39] McCarthy's appointment came in the wake of Paul Jewell's departure by mutual consent. McCarthy won his first match in charge as Ipswich manager on 3 November 2012, away at Birmingham, 0–1. This broke a 12 match winless run[40] in the league, 13 matches in all competitions. McCarthy guided Ipswich past Burnley on 10 November – the first home win since March after a late DJ Campbell winner. The match ended 2–1.[41] With a win against Nottingham Forest in late November, his sixth game in charge, McCarthy had successfully guided Ipswich out of the relegation zone.[42] McCarthy's Ipswich stopped Millwall's 13-match unbeaten run with a 3–0 home win on 8 December. On 2 February 2013, McCarthy's assistant Terry Connor took charge of a 4–0 rout of Middlesbrough while McCarthy was ill. McCarthy then guided Ipswich to safety, finally finishing in 14th place. Prior to the 2013–14 season, McCarthy had signed 10 new players. McCarthy's first full season in charge of Ipswich ended with the club finishing in 9th place.

On 30 June 2014, McCarthy and Terry Connor agreed a new three-year deal with Ipswich.[43] The following season he led the club to their first appearance in the Championship playoffs in ten years with a sixth-placed finish, before losing out to rivals Norwich City in the semi-finals. During the 2015–16 season McCarthy and assistant Terry Connor renewed their contracts for a further two seasons, with the option to extend until 2020. McCarthy led Ipswich to a 7th-place finish in his third full season at Portman Road.[44] McCarthy's fourth full season in charge ended in a 16th-place finish.

On 29 March 2018, Ipswich Town announced that McCarthy would be leaving the club at the end of the 2017–18 season on the expiry of his contract, along with assistant manager Terry Connor, after talks with owner Marcus Evans.[45] He left the club earlier than expected on 10 April 2018, shortly after a 1–0 home win over Barnsley.[46][47]

Return to the Republic of Ireland

On 25 November 2018, McCarthy was appointed manager of Republic of Ireland for the second time in his career, replacing Martin O'Neill.[48] Robbie Keane, a legend for the national team, was appointed as one of McCarthy's assistant coaches, alongside Terry Connor, who had previously assisted McCarthy at both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Ipswich Town.[48]

In March 2019, McCarthy won his first two games in charge, by defeating both Gibraltar and Georgia, in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers in Group D, by 1–0.[49][50] In June 2019, the national team drew 1–1 away to Denmark, before defeating Gibraltar once again, this time by 2–0, at the Aviva Stadium; four days later, McCarthy guided them to the top the Group D table, having taken ten points after four games.[51][52]

On 5 September 2019, McCarthy's side once again came from behind to draw 1–1 with Switzerland, which enabled them to remain at the top of their qualifying group, with three matches to play remaining.[53] On 4 April 2020, amid the global coronavirus pandemic, McCarthy stood down as manager and was immediately replaced by Stephen Kenny, who had been in charge of the nation's under-21s.[54]


McCarthy joined Cypriot First Division club APOEL as manager on 2 November 2020; he signed a contract until 2022.[55] He was sacked by the club on 5 January 2021 following a run of 2 wins, 1 draw and 5 defeats in his 8 games in charge.[56]

Cardiff City

On 22 January 2021, McCarthy was appointed as manager of Cardiff City, following the sacking of Neil Harris. He signed a contract until the end of the season.[57] His reign started with games against two of his former teams from his playing-days; Barnsley and Millwall - both of which ended as draws. His first win as Cardiff manager came in the following game, a 2–0 win against Bristol City.[58] After making an unbeaten start to his reign at the club, a run that included a 6-game winning streak, McCarthy signed a new two-year deal with the club on 4 March 2021.[59]

Career statistics


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Club Season League AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
Barnsley[60] 1977–78 Fourth Division 4612021502
1978–79 Fourth Division 4623020512
1979–80 Third Division 4412040501
1980–81 Third Division 4316050541
1981–82 Second Division 4211081512
1982–83 Second Division 3912041452
1983–84 Second Division 1200010130
Total 27271602630031410
Manchester City[60] 1983–84 Second Division 2411000251
1984–85 Second Division 3901041441
1985–86 First Division 3804030450
1986–87 First Division 3911030431
Total 140270101001573
Celtic 1987–88 Scottish Premier League 223603000313
1988–89 Scottish Premier League 265503040385
Total 081106040698
Olympique Lyonnais 1989–90 Division 1 1010000101
Millwall[60] 1989–90 First Division 60000060
1990–91 Second Division 1200000120
1991–92 Second Division 1721020202
Total 292102000322
Career total 505203504444058824


Republic of Ireland


As of match played 8 May 2021[62][63]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record
Millwall 18 March 1992 4 February 1996 207 74 72 61 035.75
Republic of Ireland 1 March 1996 5 November 2002 68 29 20 19 042.65
Sunderland 12 March 2003 6 March 2006 147 63 26 58 042.86
Wolverhampton Wanderers 21 July 2006 13 February 2012 270 104 66 100 038.52
Ipswich Town 1 November 2012 10 April 2018 279 105 78 96 037.63
Republic of Ireland 25 November 2018 4 April 2020 10 5 4 1 050.00
APOEL 2 November 2020 6 January 2021 8 2 1 5 025.00
Cardiff City 22 January 2021 Present 22 10 9 3 045.45
Total 1,011 392 276 343 038.77




  • Football League Fourth Division promoted: 1978–79[64]
  • Football League Third Division runner-up: 1980–81[65]

Manchester City

  • Football League Second Division promoted: 1984–85[66]
  • Full Members' Cup runner-up: 1985–86[67]



  • PFA Team of the Year: 1977–78 Fourth Division,[70] 1978–79 Fourth Division,[70] 1980–81 Third Division,[71] 1981–82 Second Division,[72] 1982–83 Second Division,[72] 1983–84 Second Division,[73] 1984–85 Second Division[73]
  • Barnsley Player of the Year: 1977–78, 1978–79, 1980–81[74]
  • Manchester City Player of the Year: 1983–84[75]



  • Football League Championship: 2004–05[76]

Wolverhampton Wanderers

  • Football League Championship: 2008–09[77]


  • Philips Sports Manager of the Year: 2001[78]
  • RTÉ Sports Person of the Year: 2001[79]
  • Football League Championship Manager of the Month: March 2005,[80] August 2008,[81] November 2008,[82] September 2014,[83] November 2015,[84] February 2021[85]
  • LMA Championship Manager of the Year: 2004–05, 2008–09[86]

See also

  • List of Republic of Ireland international footballers born outside the Republic of Ireland


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