Mick McCarthy says he would “go home” if he did not think the Republic of Ireland could beat Denmark to reach the Euro 2020 finals.
The 60-year-old Ireland boss will send his team into battle with a familiar foe at the Aviva Stadium on Monday evening knowing victory will secure a third successive trip to the European Championship.
It will be the sixth time the sides have met in two years and the Republic have won none of the previous five, drawing four and losing one, although McCarthy insists that has to change some time.
He said: “When people tell me that ‘You haven’t beaten somebody for so many times’, well, I always believe it’s about time we did and that’s the mentality that I try to instil into everybody else.
“Just because it hasn’t happened before doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen again. There’s loads of places being flooded in England at the minute – they’ve never been flooded before, but they are because it’s been raining a lot.
“I just think that for us, always there’s a big performance in us that can win a game. If I don’t believe it, I might as well go home – and I’m not going home anytime soon.”
Asked by a Danish journalist if he accepted that Age Hareide’s team is technically better than his, McCarthy – who as a schoolboy watched then Second Division Sunderland stun the mighty Leeds to lift the 1973 FA Cup -puffed out his chest and said: “If I sat here and said I was better than everyone else, you wouldn’t believe me, would you?
“It doesn’t concern me, people’s opinions don’t concern me, because it’s on the day.
“I’ve seen a lot of cup finals. I was a big Leeds fan as a kid. I remember watching them against Sunderland. They were an absolute shoo-in, Sunderland couldn’t win. And guess what? They did.
“All of the games I’ve seen or been involved in subsequently when teams shouldn’t win and the other side has a better team and better players and a better manager and everything is in their favour, and they get slapped – well, that’s what I’m hoping will happen tomorrow.”
McCarthy does not believe for one minute that there is as big a gap between the two teams as there was that day at Wembley but is confident Ireland will give a better account of themselves than they did back in 2017 when, after drawing the first leg of their World Cup play-off 0-0 in Copenhagen, they returned to Dublin with high hopes only to be trounced 5-1.
A man who won 57 caps for his country before guiding them to the World Cup finals in 2002 during his first spell as manager has seen much of what the game can throw at those who earn a living from it, but even he admits to feeling a few nerves on the eve of his latest big game.
He said: “I’ve woken up this morning with the butterflies with the boots on and I’m pleased about that, to be honest with you.
“That nice feeling getting ready for the game and you know that the big game is coming now and this is the last part of the preparation, I enjoy that feeling.
“I hope I am going to have a bigger one in July, bigger games playing in the European Championship. But for now, this is the biggest one.”