With yesterday’s announcement of the 25 man Crystal Palace squad for the rest of the Premier League season we saw Paddy McCarthy omitted altogether, not that we should expect him to be leaving the club anytime soon.
Still only 31, the internationally capped central defender has been with the club since the summer of 2008, brought in from Charlton Athletic for £650,000, he has made over 150 appearances in red and blue, captaining the side sporadically and playing a pivotal role in the administration threatened season of 2009/10. Often forgiven for his flaws on the field, Paddy’s attitude and stomach for a battle has always led Palace fans to feel a deep-rooted attachment to him, regardless of the multitude of defenders that have passed through the club whilst he has been on the payroll.
After holding down a regular place in the side for the vast majority of his first three years in SE25, a string of long-term injuries have interfered hugely with any hopes he may have had of ever forcing his way back into contention for a starting role, particularly since the promotion winning campaign of 2013. Some could put it down to a lack of first-team opportunities, others simply explaining away his absence as a direct consequence of others being more gifted, but Paddy has remained loyal throughout, seemingly happy to stay in south London forever more.
Many will pour scorn on the importance of “leaders” in the dressing room, but in McCarthy, a number of managers appear to have appreciated the influence he has over the playing staff, providing a consistently measured link between the club’s hierarchy and those making the decisions from the Director’s Lounge. Well known for his happiness to engage with the club’s supporters, Paddy is always looming in the background to help tidy up after a crisis, clearly feeling a responsibility as one of the group’s longest-serving players.
Alongside the likes of Speroni, Jedinak, Delaney and Scott Dann, Paddy helps to maintain a sense of order in an environment which could easily have lost its way on numerous occasions over the years. With changes of management on an annual basis since the new owners arrived in 2010, the importance attached to having strong characters on the training ground cannot be overstated, with McCarthy arguably the most pivotal of all.
Despite having at least three or four years left as a player by normal standards, it would be no surprise to see the former Manchester City academy man graduating to a full-time coaching role sooner rather than later, as he looks to further embed himself in the fabric of a club which he has made his home. You need look no further than his reaction to survival on the final day of the 2009/10 season to see how much Crystal Palace Football Club means to him, putting aside his lack of playing time, it would be a huge shame to see him leave.
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