Mick McCarthy and Neil Warnock share more than just a Yorkshireman’s instinct for bluff one-liners after both extended their management deals into next season.
After transforming Cardiff City’s fortunes with a speed of impact he admitted had even taken him by surprise, McCarthy, 62, has signed a two-year extension to his short-term contract that was due to run out at the end of the season.
Warnock – 10 years older – will be approaching 74 when his new one-year extension at Middlesbrough comes to an end in June of next year.
McCarthy has rejuvenated the Bluebirds, taking them from 15th in the Championship table to the heart of the play-off race with seven wins and three draws in 10 matches in charge.
But he also seems to have re-invigorated himself as his previous managerial spell in Cyprus was a rare brief failure and his final dour days at Ipswich seemed to indicate perhaps his power were waning.
At Cardiff, though, he appears refreshed and much like Warnock you can gauge the prevailing mood of the man by the quality of the metaphors. After his team drew 1-1 at Warnock’s Boro last week, levels were high.
“Neil and I are both the same,” said McCarthy. “If we’re not complaining about something, you might as well nail down the coffin lid on the pair of us.”
McCarthy and Warnock are old school, but not old hat. They both use all the benefits of modern sports science as back-up to their years of experience, but prefer to speak in language fans understand, rather than in the riddles of the latest coaching or public relations manual.
Truths are unvarnished and opinions are straightforwardly given. Asked about the drawn match at The Riverside, McCarthy described it as, “a fair result – not one of the best games of football I’ve ever seen. In fact, it was probably one of the worst.
“It was disappointing to concede late on, but I can’t say we deserved to win. We’ll take the point and move on.”
And move on they did, with a thumping 4-0 win over Wayne Rooney’s Derby County three days later.
Not that either McCarthy’s, or Warnock’s, preference for simple language and uncomplicated football should disguise their most enduring strength, their ability to deal with, motivate, and sometimes repair young players always young enough to be their sons, and sometimes their grandsons.
McCarthy left Harry Wilson out of his team for his first match in charge at Cardiff. When he was asked why, he replied he had based his selection on what he had seen in training.
✍️ We are very happy to announce that Mick McCarthy has signed a new two-year contract with #CardiffCity!
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) March 4, 2021
There was no direct criticism of the player, other than what could be implied. It was a masterful piece of work.
Likewise, Warnock has shown he can extend an arm around any seeming lost cause – even one who has strayed off the path and as far into the long grass as Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
Warnock – who achieved with Cardiff what McCarthy seeks to emulate, promotion, says he does not want to die on the job, although it’s hard to see him going out any other way than with his training boots on.
The Teessiders announced on Thursday that the 72-year-old will remain at the helm for the 2021-22 campaign after being parachuted in to the Riverside Stadium in a firefighting role in June last year.
Warnock has repeatedly shelved plans to retire – he had planned to call it a day at 55 – but has promised his wife Sharon that he will eventually hang up his tracksuit.
He said: “The problem we’ve got is Sharon has had illnesses and I’m 72 and when you read the news nowadays, there’s always somebody popping their clogs younger than me.
“I don’t want to die on the job, if I’m honest, so I’d like to finish on a high and I would like to see a little bit of what me and Sharon love.”
— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) March 4, 2021
Warnock’s decision to accept Boro chairman Steve Gibson’s offer of an extended stay on Teesside following talks on Wednesday will at least allow his wife time to de-clutter their Cornwall home without the vastly-experienced manager under her feet.
He said with a smile: “She was the one that said ‘you ought to do it’. She’s got so much to do in Cornwall now.
“At the minute with the situation being what it is, if I’d been in Cornwall without a job, I think she would have fallen out with me a few times, if I’m honest. I am not the best to have helping her around the house.
“Amy, our daughter, she summed it up great about six or eight weeks ago when Sharon made up her mind, really. She said ‘if you think back, Mum, whenever Dad’s at home, he gets on your nerves, so you might as well let him work while you sort the house out because when you’re together at home, you fall out’.”
Warnock, who was drafted in to lead a successful fight for Championship survival following Jonathan Woodgate’s exit, will now set his sights on another tilt at promotion having admitted the Teessiders are long-shots this time around.
He will do so having been persuaded by Gibson that he could not leave without experiencing a full house at the Riverside Stadium with his reign to date having been conducted under coronavirus restrictions.
He insisted: “I’m not bothered about getting the sack, so I’m in an unusual situation, really. I want us to all enjoy it.
“It means such a lot to people that we’ve got to try to put smiles back on their faces next year and really have a go.”
Both Warnock and McCarthy will be having another right go at it again next season.