No one would argue that Paddy McCarthy is a naturally positive character. He has been with the club through good times and bad, thrown himself into countless last ditch tackles, blocked hundreds of shots on goal and sadly, scored a disturbing number of own goals in his attempts to rescue us from various moments of oblivion, all the while, giving off the impression that he is a true leader of men.
It is with this in mind, that his comments in today’s Croydon Advertiser have made an impression on me. Whilst most fans have now given up any hope of the play-offs and instead, turned their thoughts to potential ins and outs over the summer, Paddy has taken it upon himself to let everyone know that, the squad are hopeful of sneaking in, no matter how unlikely it is:
“It’s a fantastic dressing room to be in at the moment and everybody at the club shares the same ambition – to take the club forward. The gym is always busy and the lads have to be told to leave the training pitch – it’s a great place to be. I know we lost to Derby, but we showed a real fighting spirit after going 3-0 down.
I have played in a lot of matches and to go 3-0 down at a place like Derby, it would have easy to throw in the towel. We have a fantastic spirit, which nearly got us something from the game. We have defended fantastically well as a team this season, but we made three mistakes and they scored three goals. I am sure it is a little blip and we will be working hard on the training ground to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes.
I am immensely proud to lead out the group of lads we have got at the club at the moment week in week out. I look around and see a group of players that want to improve constantly – we want to get in the play-off spots and challenge for promotion. I think if you had said at the start of the season that we would have an outside chance of getting in the play-offs then we would have taken that.
He (Freedman) is a young manager with fantastic ideas, backed up by his management team and coaching staff. He is the ultimate professional and that rubs off on the players and coaches. The club is in a good place at the moment, but what we want is to reach the promotion places and we won’t rest until we do that. That is everybody’s aim at the club.”
It’s no secret that Paddy can, at times be a little bit of a liability on the pitch, but as a captain there isn’t much more you could want out of him attitude wise. It’s clear to see that he feels a very real and deep affection for the club and as easy as it would be to put these words down to cliché, it does feel as though genuine success could well be just around the corner for this squad.
What is almost always present in any side that manages to claw their way out of the Championship is a genuine mixture of skill and grit. No team in my memory has stormed the league using just tricks and flicks, just as none have used blood and thunder as the sole aspect of a successful promotion push. With our team having the likes of Zaha, Williams and Scannell providing the flair and attacking drive, there is evidently a need for players in the mould of Paddy and Mile Jedinak to do the dirty work, allowing the aforementioned trio to operate in their natural roles.
For me, there is no doubt that he has improved dramatically in recent months thanks to his regular partnership with the ever reliable Anthony Gardner, both of whom offer the defence something completely different. Paddy’s full-on approach to defending used to occasionally get out of hand when left to run wild, but Gardner’s regular inclusion in the side has had a calming effect to say the least, minimising the mistakes that randomly occur and bringing out a measured side to the Irishman’s game which has been a pleasant surprise to all supporters.
If we are able to re-sign Gardner for next season, I see no reason why the two of them can’t continue to provide the solid backbone to the side which has been such a recognisable part of our play this season. Let’s just hope the flair players continue to do their bit as well.