Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Passion Left at Home

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Passion Left at Home

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Mick McCarthy deserved more than yesterday's unconvincing semi-final performance but Sunderland's boss can still complete a remarkable rescue act. Chief Sports Writer Simon Rushworth reports.

As Sunderland's players were met by a tidal wave of red and white emotion minutes before yesterday's FA Cup semi-final, it was difficult to imagine the Black Cats as the archetypal club in crisis.

Yet it is only 12 months since Mick McCarthy's men were staring painful relegation from the Premiership in the face and preparing for an uncertain future at the Stadium of Light.

Next week marks the first anniversary of the Wearsiders' demotion from England's top flight but it is testimony to the drive and ambition of their determined manager that those dark days now seem a lifetime away.

McCarthy, more than anyone, deserved his showpiece Old Trafford occasion as a reward for the role he has played in sparking one of the most remarkable revivals in English club football.

And how fitting that the team with which he cut his managerial teeth provided the opposition on the day a memorable season took its latest thrilling turn. McCarthy, of course, has never concealed the fact that an unlikely cup run means very little in the context of a campaign geared towards reclaiming Sunderland's Premiership status.

But even the proud Yorkshireman responsible for restoring pride on Wearside could not begrudge the Black Cats' fans their semi-final party. And McCarthy's beaming smile prior to kick-off emphasised the significance of a truly special moment for the manager charged with picking up the pieces from the post-Howard Wilkinson era.

Denied the finances required to fully revamp a confidence-sapped squad, the former Republic of Ireland boss has instead been forced to rely on the unwritten rules of inspirational man-management to haul Sunderland from the depths of post-relegation despair. …

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