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Matt Holland's Blog 12

7 November 2012

I wasn't able to talk last week about Ipswich Town and the news that Mick McCarthy had got the manager's job. There was so much speculation flying around about my own position but I can now confirm that the stories in the press about me joining Mick's coaching staff were wide of the mark.

It was a surreal week. I was sitting on the sofa at home last Tuesday when my phone started going mad and I received about 150 texts congratulating me on getting a job at Portman Road. I knew there had been rumours but it was still news to me. I said to the missus she was now looking at an Ipswich coach but I wish they had told me first.

I think it was the local BBC who broke the 'story' initially, reporting that I was joining Mick and Terry Connor at the club. The BBC is usually spot on but this time they got it wrong.

A lot of people I think put two and two together and got five. I was at the Sheffield Wednesday game last month in the director's box, sitting two rows behind the chief executive Simon Clegg, and that probably convinced some people I was there to discuss a coaching role. I was there to watch the match.

I'm not surprised Ipswich have gone for Mick and that he accepted. I spoke to him a few weeks ago at Stamford Bridge and he was saying that after leaving Wolves, he felt refreshed after a good break and was ready for a new challenge if the right opportunity came along.

I'm also not surprised he took Terry with him. Mick told me at Chelsea that if he got another job, Terry would be his number two and they've got a strong relationship which is vital between the manager and his assistant.

Ipswich are in a real fight this season and if you had to pick a manager equipped for trench warfare, Mick would at the top of the list. He's honest and fair but everyone of the Ipswich players will quickly learn that if they don't give him 100 per cent effort and commitment, they'll be straight out of the team.

Tuesday night's 5-0 drubbing at Crystal Palace was a painful setback after the win at Birmingham City at the weekend but you've got to put the result into context. Palace are flying at the moment and Ipswich's fate will probably be decided by their results against the teams around them at the bottom of the table.

I'd love to share a few anecdotes about Mick when I played for him for the Republic of Ireland but I honestly can't think of any that are printable. All I'll say is that while he often has a dour exterior in public, he's got a very dry sense of humour in the dressing room.

The week's other big news was Ian Holloway's move from Blackpool to Palace. With the Eagles top of the table after the Ipswich result, you can't argue with his timing and the amazing atmosphere at Selhurst Park on Saturday for the Blackburn Rovers game confirmed it was a very popular move with the supporters.

The sheer weight of his personality is just incredible. Just his presence at Selhurst Park, even before he had set foot on the training ground, seemed to have an effect on the club. I've always argued that team spirit is one of the most underestimated factors in football and there is no-one better than Ian at wringing out every last ounce of effort from his players.

Some people have suggested it's a sideways move for Ian but the potential at Palace is obvious. The key is whether they can hold onto the likes of Wilfried Zaha in January but I'm sure Ian will have sought assurances about the squad before he accepted the job. Palace fell away in the second half of last season but if they keep the squad together, promotion is within their grasp.

Middlesbrough stayed second on Tuesday despite being held at Nottingham Forest and in what has been a crazy season in terms of managerial changes, Tony Mowbray and his side have gone about their business quietly and look more than capable of staying the distance.

Tony's side embodies his personality - understated but passionate. It's how he was as a player and while other clubs have been making the headlines this season for different reasons, Boro have been recovered from a slow start and put together a really strong run in their last seven games.

The big positive for Tony is the options he has up front. Scott MacDonald is scoring again after missing seven weeks earlier in the season and he's also got Marvin Emnes, Lukas Jutkiewicz and young Luke Williams at his disposal.

There seems to be genuine depth to the squad at the Riverside and I think Boro will be tough to dislodge this season.

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