Mick McCarthy has strongly criticised the decision to give Ireland’s Young Player Of The Year Award to Declan Rice, saying he imagines that the now England international “probably feels slightly embarrassed by it”.
While McCarthy accepts that the West Ham player won the award on merit, he believes that his subsequent defection from the Republic should have seen the award either given to someone else or not handed out at all.
Holding to account the panel of soccer writers who first selected Rice and then stood over the accolade even after he had switched allegiance, the Ireland manager said yesterday.
“Well, you guys insisted that he be given it, so I think that you should all have a look at yourselves or whoever decided that. Because when I was told that he was getting it, I said ‘no way, why would he get it?’
“In saying that, you should give it to someone who deserves it. And because he was a player at the time and, if he was the best player, he deserved it. But what I did say was that you give it to someone who appreciated it. I was told that you guys — whoever it is — insisted that the integrity of the vote was maintained and that’s [why he still] got it. So if anybody has directed [responsibility for] that at the FAI and given them another stick to beat them with, then I would be very disappointed.”
McCarthy believes that, once the player had switched international allegiance to England, his award should have been withdrawn.
“In my view, yes. Give it to someone who would really appreciate it. He is not going to appreciate it, he probably feels slightly embarrassed by it. Why on Earth? Well, we were protecting the integrity of you guys who voted for it. But, apparently, it’s not you guys who get the brickbats afterwards, which is wrong in my view.
“He obviously did deserve it because he won it on merit. But for someone who has left and does not even want to play for us, why on Earth would you consider doing it? Was it to embarrass him? Embarrass the FAI? I don’t see the reason for doing it. It doesn’t look particularly good, I don’t think.”
As another alternative, McCarthy suggested that the award be withdrawn altogether this year.