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Burns: New Boss Has Been a Breath of Fresh Air
Sunday, 9th Jan 2022 11:27

Wing-back Wes Burns says new manager Kieran McKenna has been a breath of fresh air since he came into the club just over three weeks ago, leading the Blues to victories in his first two matches including yesterday’s stunning 4-0 hammering of Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium.

McKenna became the first Town boss since Roy Keane in 2009 to win his first two matches in charge at Portman Road, the Blues having comprehensively dismantled the Gills, who are third-bottom and without a win since October.

Burns, who scored Town’s second, says the game is up there with his favourite during his career.

“Very enjoyable,” he said. “I was saying after the game it was probably one of the most enjoyable games I’ve been a part of playing-wise.

“I think you could see from the performance how much all the lads enjoyed it - everyone wanting to get on the ball, everyone playing bravely, everyone playing forward and the quality of the goals was unbelievable.”

Asked how much of that has that come from the manager, the Welshman said: “All of it, to be honest. He’s been a breath of fresh air. Since the boss has come in, everything’s about playing forward, breaking lines, being brave on the ball. I think straight away you could see that today.”

Asked about the Northern Irishman’s pedigree as a coach having worked with the likes of Ronaldo at Manchester United, Burns said: “Obviously he’s been at United but you forget that he’s worked under [Mauricio] Pochettino [at Tottenham] as well, [Jose] Mourinho, arguably the best managers of our time.

“He’s obviously picked up a lot of little things along the way. When he talks to us in training, he gives us little bits of information, everyone stands up and takes notice straight away, everyone’s clued in.

“We don’t train for particularly long, an hour and a half maybe, it’s a lot of short and sharp stuff. It’s not massively long in the sense of a day.

“But for that hour and a half he does demand high intensity and everyone concentrating for that whole time and I think straight away, he’s been in two or three weeks now, and you can see the difference he’s made already.”

Is there one thing he’s said which you feel has made most difference? “I think the main thing he’s got us focused on is when we lose the ball everyone’s immediate reaction straight after losing it.

“I think you could see today when we lost it high up the pitch, everyone’s reaction - there were three, four, five players all trying to win the ball back straight away and I think that’s the main thing that he’s wanted us to work on.”

“He does that just through different drills, different possession drills. When you lose it you have to win it back within a certain amount of time or if you don’t win it back, you’ve got sprints to do, there are forfeits, there are different fun ways of teaching that.”

Town had previously won 4-0 at Portsmouth and 4-1 at Wycombe away from home as well as defeating Doncaster 6-0 at home, so the capability of winning by a large margin has always been there.

“I think there were times earlier on in the season, you look back at the Portsmouth game, the Wycombe game, the Doncaster game, where we come up and score a lot of goals and turn teams over pretty comfortably. It was just the consistency,” Burns reflected.

“Now you’re seeing back-to-back clean sheets, back-to-back wins, we’re scoring goals again, which is go. So it’s about just keeping that run going, keeping the momentum going as well.”

The former Fleetwood man believes the Blues can still get up into the division’s upper reaches with yesterday’s win moving them up a place to 10th, now eight points off the play-offs.

“Definitely,” he insisted. “I think before today we were 10 points off it but we go into each game with the objective of winning, the teams above us aren’t going to win every game between now and the end of the season, so it’s all to play for.”

Burns says Saturday’s display was one which other clubs will have noticed: “We said at half-time, we were 3-0 up after 25, 30 minutes and we had kind of a sloppy last 10 or 15 minutes of the half and so we can’t let teams see that we can be sloppy. We’ve got to make it a 90-minute performance.

“Bolton will look at us now ahead of next week and see that we will fight right to the end, we scored late on, I know it was a penalty, but we were still there creating chances towards the end.

“We can be better in and around the box at times but no doubt with another week’s training in us, we’ll create more chances and we’ll more away.”

Burns agreed that the second half display was every bit as important as the first: “I think we knew that the manager would get stuck right into them at half-time.

“They came out, they put an extra striker on, changed formation, which complimented us again, I think, because they tried to go man-to-man and obviously when you go man-to-man with a team that’s ultimately better and fitter, you’re going to lose. All in all, today was a great performance.”

Burns says he loves playing right wing-back: “I enjoy it, I get so much more of the ball facing the goal, one-v-one with the defender. For me it’s perfect. I don’t have to do too much defending because, as I’ve said before, JD [Janoi Donacien] does it all for me!

“I’m enjoying it, the formation suits me down to the ground and I’m pretty sure the lads would agree that it suits them as well.”

The system employed by McKenna with three centre-halves and also three forwards has suited the players.

“I think with the three at the back it gives us that little bit more solidity,” Burns reflected. “At times we go into a back five but that’s just defending their set plays and when we’re under the cosh a little bit but it’s not too often in the game when we’re a back five.

“I think you could see today that the likes of JD, Fridge [George Edmundson] and Woolfy [Luke Woolfenden] all stepping in through the line because there’s so much space to do so and we’ve worked on it all week, stepping in and creating pockets of play and things like that. And I think the patterns of play that we created today were evident.”

Regarding his goal, his fifth of the season, he added: “I’ll always be in the box to score goals! I get into that area quite a lot, I do practise it quite often in training.

“I don’t really get a chance to shoot from anywhere else so there’s no point in my practising from anywhere else, so as long as I keep getting in those positions, I’ll keep getting chances. It did take a little nick but it’s still my goal!”

Burns was involved in a chance which was created in the opening minute, which ultimately came to nothing but seemed to set the tone for the performance.

“I think we said before the game, we’ve got to start on the front foot,” he recalled. “We’ve got to be aggressive, we’ve got to impose our style of play on the game straight away.

“I know I fell over in the box, it’s not often I fall over in the box, but it kind of set the tone for the game. The away fans claimed a penalty, but I definitely just fell over!”

The 27-year-old said everyone was pleased for Macauley Bonne, who ended a 10-game goalless streak by netting his 12th of the season, and also for James Norwood, who has netted four goals in his last four league matches.

“All the lads are delighted, to be fair, even Nors coming back,” he continued. “I think everyone knows pretty much what went on with Nors, so for him to come back and have the effect that he has had on us and his four goals in four or five games now is perfect.

“Everyone’s happy, everyone’s scoring, glad to see Pens [Matt Penney] get an assist today, he’s had a rough spell as well for the last few weeks, so it was good to see him doing so well.”

Town had four goalscorers against the Gills with plenty of other players also looking to hit the target over the 90 minutes.

“Even the likes of Chappers [Conor Chaplin] and Pigs [Joe Pigott] when they come on as well, they’re hungry to score and impress and do well and do their bit for the team,” he said.

“Obviously Chappers came on today and put the penalty away, Pigs having won it. It’s going to be a team effort from now until the end of the season, especially with the Covid stuff. If a couple of lads are missing, we’ve got lads who can step in and play equally as well, if not better.

“We’ve got strength in depth, the likes of Bersant Celina, Kyle Edwards and Rekeem Harper will be coming back into the squad, there’s going to be competition for places, which is only going to make us better.”

He added: “I think you can see the enjoyment that everyone’s got when they’re playing now. Fridge [George Edmundson] trying to score from 30 yards, Samy [Morsy] shooting at every opportunity he gets. But they’re the little things, we’re creating so many more opportunities to shoot.

“I know a few weeks ago we were getting cheered when we were having one shot on goal in games, so to come back to the point where we’re scoring goals again, having multiple chances on goal, it’s good for us.”

Burns says that the Blues are currently targeting making up ground on the top six before they can set their sights any higher.

“I think for us at the moment trying to catch sixth as quickly as possible,” he said. “If we catch them, it could take us 10, 15 games to do so and then once we do that we then look to fifth, then to fourth, then to third. It goes that way.

“Until we catch sixth, we have to be realistic about every game. For us it’s about going into every game and just wanting to win. If we win every game then we’ll be alright.”

The one-time Bristol City trainee says he’s now looking forward to next week’s trip to 17th-placed Bolton Wanderers.

“When the games were being called off I just wanted to keep playing, keep playing, keep playing,” he said. “Roll on Bolton now.”

Photos: TWTD/Pagepix

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Len_Brennan added 12:01 - Jan 9
One of the most encouraging stories I have ever read on TWTD.

Ryorry added 12:39 - Jan 9
Great piece, wonderful insights - when a manager makes it all seem simple & easy, you know they're a good 'un!

"When he talks to us in training, he gives us little bits of information, everyone stands up and takes notice straight away, everyone's clued in.

“We don't train for particularly long, an hour and a half maybe, it's a lot of short and sharp stuff. It's not massively long in the sense of a day.

“But for that hour and a half he does demand high intensity and everyone concentrating for that whole time .."

Did it ever occur to all the Pauls that as all competitive games are of 90 + 5 or so high intensity minutes, it might be a good idea to use that as a blueprint for training? Obviously not!!

Tractorboy1985 added 12:50 - Jan 9
Nail on the head @Len Brennan 👍

IpswichT62OldBoy added 12:56 - Jan 9
We have got ourselves an absolute gem in K McK.

terryf added 13:20 - Jan 9
First half particularly was the best I've seen this season including the Wycombe away game. Our movement, quick passing and aggression off the ball was a joy to behold and Gillingham couldn't cope with it.

Morsy and Evans were brilliant and linked so well with Aluko and the latter's pass for the third goal was sublime. Burns clearly loves the wing back role and the over the pitch the whole Team looked really comfortable with the new system.

Can anyone remember when was the last time we started with two strikers and finished the last 20 minutes with two strikers...great stuff.

McKenna's clearly got them fired up and enjoying their football too. I know that it's early days but I think that the fans have also bought into his brand of football.

I'm now looking forward to the rest of the season whereas only a few weeks ago, probably like many others, I'd given up on this season.

Linkboy13 added 13:21 - Jan 9
The longer sessions or stamina work will come in pre season along with strength and conditioning ive been there and hated it. It's all about keeping the players sharp and injury free now. Dont know if it's my imagination but we don't seem to be getting so many injuries now.

ArnieM added 13:30 - Jan 9
I wonder who does the most forfeits in training , lol !

Ipswichbusiness added 13:43 - Jan 9
I've bought a couple of tickets for the game v Accrington Stanley. I will be taking my ex. She is a Lancastrian lass who supports Man City, but lives about a mile from Accrington Stanley's ground. I hope that we give them a good stuffing!

ringwoodblue added 14:09 - Jan 9
As they say, if you enjoy what you do, it doesn't feel like work. Football should be enjoyable to play and watch and I feel McKenna (and don't let's forget Pert) has restored this to our team

Furrow added 16:11 - Jan 9
And all of this from a man who has little experience. Instead of the Been that, Done that Brigade
Why haven't we tried it before?
Oh sorry, we did with Sir Alf and Sir Bobby and look where that got us.

Shineyblueknives added 17:00 - Jan 9
The thing that I have found enjoyable to read about is how much more positivity there is at the club at present, I hope it stays and builds even further.
You can see that the players are enjoying themselves on the pitch and I do hope it continues

1psw1ch added 17:33 - Jan 9
love what McKenna has done to this club since he arrived,,, everything has changed and you can feel it,,, there is such a feel good vibe and it all feels so right,,,, Norwood is a new man as well,,, love it

Portwoman added 20:03 - Jan 9
My thoughts, exactly, Ryorry.

Portwoman added 20:03 - Jan 9
My thoughts, exactly, Ryorry.

Radlett_blue added 20:19 - Jan 9
So if McKenna has been a "breath of fresh air", what does that say about Paul Cook?

chepstowblue added 20:48 - Jan 9
Ì do believe that Cook was described as a breath of fresh air when he arrived as well ! Its a heartening start for the new man,but over the last 6yrs or so I've learned to reserve judgement for several months, as praise and hero worship can turn to vitriol in the blink of an eye at this club. Saturday was a good day out, but not to the level that Wycombe was (under Cook). Let's give it a little longer before we claim to believe that it all feels different. Only after another 6-10 games will I start to make a comparison with the previous man. Each to their own though.

MickMillsTash added 22:31 - Jan 9
Burns was good - I think he's key to us
Gillingham are dreadful Lets not get too carried away but if we carry on playing with the same intensity most of the teams in this division are going to struggle to compete against us.
Things change quickly +ve/-ve but these 2 performances feel better and more sustainable than when being top of the table after a few scruffy wins under Lambert

bobble added 07:17 - Jan 10
gillingham that a hobbit village ?

johnwarksshorts added 08:24 - Jan 10
I like WB.

Razor added 10:37 - Jan 10
Was it not us that made Gillingham look dreadful with our powerful action packed performance!?

BobbyBell added 11:55 - Jan 10
The teams movement on Saturday was awesome. Play the pass and move, follow the pass or run the channels, and we dragged their defence around creating huge spaces. So much in the past has been slow, square, backwards, predictable and easing to defend against. Now we are crisp, sharp and eager to get forward. Those who remember Beattie and Hunter charging forward into spaces will have loved seeing Wolfie and Edmundson on the charge. This is exciting football and KM has said he wants them to take chances which is great to hear. Bolton will be a different game but I'm confident that KM will have things up his sleeve to give them a few surprises.

dirtydingusmagee added 12:20 - Jan 10
Radlet perhaps he means Cook had Halitosis , or was a garlic muncher ! Seriously, everyone said the players brought in came because of Cook and past connections, and that Cook leaving could see the players want out, clearly this wasnt the case. I feel this really is the start of a better era at ITFC. COYB

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