By Paul Jones
Mick McCarthy has been parachuted in to save Cardiff City’s season, with owner Vincent Tan insisting the Irishman is the right man to stop the rot.
The club feared the current slump might become a battle to avoid relegation to League One but believe McCarthy can keep them in the Championship.
They are currently nine points above the relegation zone, but all the clubs in the bottom three have games in hand on Cardiff.
The former Republic of Ireland boss will take charge until the end of the campaign after the Bluebirds sacked Neil Harris following a run of six straight defeats.
Harris paid the price for Cardiff’s shocking form with the Welsh side in 15th place in the Championship. They reached the play-offs under Harris’ guidance last season.
Cardiff believe the experience of McCarthy, 61, will steady the ship before they look to make a long-term appointment this summer but the appointment is unpopular with their fans.
McCarthy will be joined by assistant Terry Connor.
“I’d like to personally welcome Mick and Terry to our Football Club and wish them the very best of luck,” said Cardiff owner Vincent Tan.
“I’ve enjoyed the brief talk I’ve had with Mick and I’m confident he’s the right man to take on the responsibility of improving our performances and fortunes.”
McCarthy, who has also managed Sunderland, Wolves and Ipswich, has a big job on his hands to improve a Cardiff squad devoid of confidence. He left Cypriot side Apoel earlier this month.
McCarthy will be backed in the January transfer window if he feels he needs new players despite cash-strapped Cardiff’s limited resources.
Harris left Cardiff with immediate effect on Thursday and less than 24 hours after a 1-0 home defeat by QPR which proved to be the final straw for Tan.
And Harris’ predecessor Neil Warnock rubbed salt in the wound after his departure. Warnock guided Cardiff to the Premier League in 2018, but wasn’t happy at Harris’ comments when he took the job.
Warnock said: “I didn’t say too much while Neil was there, but I thought one or two of the comments he made when he first got the job were a little bit detrimental to me – ‘I’ve got to change the mindsets of these players, they’ve been used to playing one particular way’.
“What’s that? Winning? There’s nothing wrong with that. I thought it was a bit disrespectful, if I’m honest. Mick is a big mate of mine, he’ll enjoy it. He’s come back from Cyprus, had six weeks holiday there, and now he’s in a good place in Wales, I hope. That’s not bad.
“Cardiff was very good for me because Cardiff were in a mess when I went there and we ended up going to the Premier League with a team that nobody thought could do.
“I’ve got great, great memories there.”
McCarthy will be in charge in time for Cardiff’s next game at Barnsley on Wednesday, his birthplace and where the former defender began his playing career.
Terry Connor joins the club as assistant manager, while James Rowberry and Andy Dibble continue in their roles as first-team coach and goalkeeping coach respectively.
“I’m delighted to be here,” McCarthy told Cardiff City TV. “I’m thrilled by the opportunity.
“I want to get the club back to winning games and I want to get smiles back on the players’ faces. If we do that, then we’ll get smiles back on the fans.
“We’ve got a good squad of players and I’m looking forward to getting down to work.”