As a player, McCarthy was successful. In fact, he’s arguably South Africa’s most successful player, holding the honour of being the only one in the country to win the UEAF Champions League title. He won it with FC Porto, who were coached by Jose Mourinho at the time, a manager McCarthy has huge respect for.
McCarthy, who holds a UEFA A coaching licence, announced himself early on at Seven Stars as a promising youngster and then caught the eye at senior national team level during the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso.
He may not have won a trophy in his first full season as a coach last term, but he no doubt announced himself as a coach, making an impression with Cape Town City – a club that is reaping the benefits of taking a chance on a man who has so much passion for the game.
Hardly two months into the new season, McCarthy has his first title and it is probably just the beginning of what could be a repeat of what he achieved as a player.
Throughout his time as a player, McCarthy worked with some top coaches, from Mourinho, to Mark Hughes, to Sam Allardyce. He has learnt about man-management, tactics, but there’s also that never-say-die attitude we’ve seen from him since day one.
“The one thing I noticed during his team talk, before the penalties, there was a mixture of all the coaches he has worked with in his career, including Mourinho,” McCarthy’s former Bafana Bafana teammate Matthew Booth says.
“He is able to cherry-pick and take from what he has learnt from all of those coaches and also add from his own knowledge. The players are clearly benefiting.
“He is competitive, he hates to lose and I think that’s what most great players have. They always have that competitive edge, no matter how many trophies you’ve won. Whether you are a coach or a player, that’s what drives you to success. You can see it on the side of the pitch that he never wants to lose.”
Before joining City, McCarthy was linked with the job at Orlando Pirates. Booth feels it would not have been the right place for McCarthy to start.
“As long as he has the club’s backing, then he will be good. He is rather fortunate to have a chairman like John Comitis, who has trusted him. That is something that often hinders our local coaches – not many coaches have that kind of support.
“So I feel he certainly made the right choice to choose his club wisely when starting his career. There was talk of him going to Pirates, I don’t think that would have been the ideal scenario starting. He has done well at City and he is only going to grow from there. The most important thing is that the players want to play for him. They respect him because of what he has achieved in his career.”