Now, with another tricky Absa Premiership fixture looming, against high-riding Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday night (kick-off 8.15pm), the former Bafana Bafana striker is desperate for the real City to turn up.
The Cape side have been largely schizophrenic this season. One week, they’re brilliant, the next they sink to the depths of mediocrity. It’s this Jekyll and Hyde inconsistency McCarthy just hasn’t been able to solve.
But, as a new coach, it’s all part and parcel of his learning curve.
“What can I say?” said McCarthy. “It was a very frustrating evening (against Arrows), especially when you have warned the players that they are up against a team desperate for three points. And if you are not going to get into a contest, then you are going to come off second best.
"We wanted to play too much beautiful football, we refused to get dirty, we never got stuck in and we played with no heart.
“Arrows were fighting for their lives, they wanted it more and they got their reward. We pulled out of tackles, we were second best to everything; too many players weren’t up for the fight and, in the end, we deserved to lose.”
McCarthy insists that, for the players, as professionals, they should always be aware of what their task is. Needless to say, he is demanding a response against Maritzburg.
“It shouldn’t even be about motivation,” he said. “This is the job. We had everything to play for (against Arrows), but just weren’t up for it. We never dealt with their counter-attacks, while we were just too slow in transition. Our final third entry was the worst I’ve seen. When we got to the front, it looked like we didn’t know what we wanted to do. It was a really terrible result for us.”
City remain in sixth position on the Premiership standings, with 34 points, and five games still to play. While they haven’t lost any ground, teams below are starting to catch up and the danger for the Capetonians is they could miss out on a high finish if they continue in this fashion.
“I think, perhaps in future, I shouldn’t even mention that other teams are catching up,” said the City coach. “Because I brought that up and look at the performance? Maybe I should just focus on us, and not focus on the other teams and the league table. I mean we could have finished so much higher. Now, I don’t know.”
Maritzburg United coach Fadlu Davids attended City’s match on Wednesday hoping to get an idea of what to expect from the Cape side tomorrow. But, and this is probably a positive for McCarthy, Davids (a Capetonian, too) wouldn’t have learnt too much from such a diabolical performance.
City certainly can’t play any worse – Davids will be aware of this, while there’s no doubt McCarthy’s men are desperate and determined to put up a better showing.
“Maritzburg are fourth in the league and they deserve to be there, so I don’t think we can say they are punching above their weight,” said McCarthy. “As a team, they have a lot of energy and they have a good coach (Fadlu Davids) who has them well-drilled.”