'Tough, but Togo & Pfister must cope'

HT asked Mick McCarthy if he could see any connection between his plight then and Pfister's now.

india Updated: Jun 12, 2006 12:18 IST

This World Cup's oldest coach has had the shortest stint in the competition. For the second time in as many finals, someone connected with a team has left or had to leave for reasons other than injury.

Otto Pfister has turned Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo's supervision into stale news less than 24 hours after it happened. The World Cup sure is up and running.

Wangen, where Togo is based, and Saipan are a continent apart but Mick McCarthy knows all about such problems. Four years after his showdown with Roy Keane that forced Ireland's talismanic captain to leave before kicking a ball in Japan and South Korea, Hindustan Times asked McCarthy if he could see any connection between his plight then and Pfister's now.

"Different situations, different circumstances, but I guess I know what he is going through," the former Ireland coach, a co-commentator with The BBC, said during an exclusive interview. "It wasn't easy for me then and it won't be easy for him (Pfister) or his team now. But you've got to move on."

But isn't that easier said than done? "You bet, but you've got to cope. I think we coped with it pretty well (Ireland exited in the round of 16 after taking Spain to penalties)," he said.

McCarthy, in a light blue T-shirt and dark blue track pants looking not unlike the volunteers, said, "I wasn't thinking about Roy all the time but yes, it would come back once in a while. During build-ups or before a match. Once the match started, however, you were too focused to think about such things."

Not long after the 2002 finals, McCarthy had said - sitting, ironically, in front of Keane's picture at Old Trafford - that he would be remembered only for the bust-up with Keane.

"I've said openly that that this is the only thing I'll be remembered for… I'll be walking down the street as an old man, carrying a walking stick, no hair, no teeth, and someone will say 'There's that bollix who rowed with Keane,'" The Guardian quoted him as saying.

Pfister, who has said his dream is dead, certainly wouldn't like to be known as 'the bollix' who fought with his federation.

Asked about his favourites, McCarthy said, "Obviously, it is difficult to look beyond Brazil, but this time I've a sneaking feeling about Argentina. It has to be seen how Lionel Messi or that centre-forward from Chelsea (Hernan Crespo) or that midfielder from Villarreal (Juan Roman Riquelme) and the rest of them link up… but I think, maybe they could do it this time. I also think Portugal could have a very good tournament."

What about Italy, France or England? "Well, you asked for my favourites, didn't you," the man with a reputation for being blunt said. Sacked by Sunderland, whom he had guided into the Premiership, McCarthy said he is between jobs now.

It's been that way for the former Ireland captain earlier too not surprisingly, he believes that when one door closes, another opens.

First Published: Jun 12, 2006 12:18 IST