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Penney: Exciting Time to Be an Ipswich Player
Thursday, 13th Jan 2022 06:00

Matt Penney believes he is one of several Town players who have upped the level of their performances in the short time that new manager Kieran McKenna has been at the club.

It is less than a month since 35-year-old McKenna took charge of team affairs and the Blues have triumphed in both of the Northern Irishman’s first two games in charge, picking up three points and scoring five goals without conceding any.

Asked if he and his colleagues were now performing closer to their true potential, Penney replied: “Yes, I think when a new manager comes in it’s a fresh start and an opportunity for everybody to impress.

“The boys are enjoying it at the minute, the style of play and the manager’s philosophy, and I think it is showing with the performances getting better and better. I think this is just the beginning really and hopefully there is a lot more to come.”

Penney, who has played most of his football in a back four since arriving from Sheffield Wednesday, has switched under McKenna to operate as left wing-back in what was a 3-4-1-2 system at Gillingham last Saturday, although it was interim boss John McGreal, in the last of his four games in charge, the 1-1 home draw with Sunderland, that first cast him in the role.

The former Sheffield Wednesday player said: “I’ve been given a fresh opportunity and I just wanted to show everybody, and especially the manager, what I can do and how I can be an asset to him and the team. I just want to keep it going now, to keep playing and helping to build the momentum.

“What’s my favourite position? I do enjoy the wing-back role and I think it suits me a bit more than left-back, but wherever the gaffer wants to play me I’m happy to do so and I will always give 100 per cent.”

Penney provided an assist at Gillingham for the third goal in Town’s 4-0 win, the one that ended top scorer Macauley Bonne’s 10-game wait to add to the 11 he scored following his arrival on a season-long loan move from QPR, and his only goal came when he opened the scoring in the 2-1 defeat at Cheltenham in August last year.

On the right side of the pitch, Wes Burns appears to be revelling in the role of right wing-back. He netted the fifth goal of his Town career when he made it 2-0 at Gillingham – and Penney would love to emulate the Welshman’s tally.

He added: “I’m just the same as Wes and if I can help out with an assist or a goal I will do. My main target is to get a few more of both but while I’m also looking to get forward as much as possible I’m also looking to keep the back door shut as often as possible and carry on with the clean sheets we kept in our last two games.

“It’s very encouraging. You know the old saying – if you don’t give goals away it increases your chances of winning the game, or at least taking something from the game, especially if you can take your chances when they come along at the other end, which we have been doing lately.

“The clean sheets are massively important and we’re looking to keep that side of things going at Bolton on Saturday as we look to build on the two wins we’ve had under the new manager. We want to have a real go between now and the end of the season.”

Has Penney had any one-to-one conversations with the new boss? He said: “It’s a big squad but I think we’ve all had little chats with the new manager.

“The thing for every player when a new manager comes in is to try to prove themselves on the pitch and let their actions speak louder than anything else.

“I’ve spoken to him about bits and bobs but the main thing is to deliver when you’re in the team and that’s what I’ve tried to do.

“I’ve been looking to show what I have to offer and show what an asset I can be to him as a member of the starting line-up.

“The gaffer has come in with an outstanding pedigree because he has been working at the very highest level in the game and with some of the best players in the country at Manchester United.

“It’s an exciting time to be an Ipswich player and we’re not just picking his brains, we’re doing the same with the members of his staff who have come into the club as well.

“It’s great to be learning from them every day and I know the rest of the boys feel the same. At the end of the day they are going to make us better players and people.

“He has referred during training to some of the players he worked with at Old Trafford. I spoke to him and his assistant, Martyn Pert, about some of the players they worked alongside at United.

“I was trying to pick their brains about how things are run at Old Trafford and without giving too much away he told us bits and pieces about how the top players go about their business.

“There are things he has said that will allow me to take things from their games to try to improve myself as a player. He’s been really good with things like that.”

Penney also had praise for experienced teammate Sone Aluko, from whose defence-splitting pass he provided the assist for Bonne to score at Gillingham. “Sone’s great and I speak to him a lot,” he added. “I’ve also played against him a few times over the years and I have a good connection with him.

“He knows I love that type of inside to outside run and I think you can see how connections are getting built all over the pitch between the players now.

“Sone has bags of experience and knows the game and what it’s all about. He’s a really, really good professional and I haven’t got a bad word to say about him. Above all, he’s a great player and a great asset to the team – and it’s great to be playing alongside him.

“It’s the same with James Norwood too. He’s come back and scored in each of the last four games. Nors is great and that’s his normal self, bless him. He does what he’s always done and that’s score goals.

“The boys are really excited about what he’s doing right now and we all hope it continues. The more often he sticks the ball in the back of the net, the more it is going to help us to reach our target.”

Photo: TWTD

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thechangingman added 06:19 - Jan 13
Well, for the first time in a VERY long time, I am happy to confirm it's also exciting to be an Ipswich FAN!!!


oldtimer3 added 06:42 - Jan 13
At last, Ipswich Town FC has a happy dressing room again. Onward and upward. Exciting times ahead me thinks!

MagicMoe added 07:50 - Jan 13
2nd paragraph, six points not three!

Suffolkboy added 07:59 - Jan 13
Interview almost oozes excitement and positivity with no sense of pro footballer’s gloss . All continues to bode well — long may this spirit pervade our squad !

chappie added 08:25 - Jan 13
Great interview and nice to hear genuine comments that feel real and not scripted or rehearsed. No gloss as someone said. I like Penney, and it seems all the players are really revelling under KM.

Exciting times for all of us Matt!


RegencyBlue added 09:01 - Jan 13
I like Penney and don’t understand a lot of the criticism he gets from some quarters.

He’s not the best left back we have ever had but he’s not the worst by a long distance.


BlueySwede added 09:12 - Jan 13
Penney has certainly looked better these last few games. How far off is Coulson?

bobble added 11:06 - Jan 13
lets wait for 4-8 game results before we all get new manager drunk.....

Linkboy13 added 11:14 - Jan 13
Yes Penney has looked good since McKenna arrived. He's just that little bit physically stronger than Clements who after a decent first game was poor in the next two, but still has time to develop. Coulson is a player who is going to have injury problems because of his diminitive size and combative nature. Would like to see a defensive left back signed to give us another option. It looks like McKenna favours players with technical ability which might mean Cameron Burgess could be moving on . He had an excellent game away at Wycombe and after coming on replacing the unfortunate Coulson at left back tightened up the defence and in my opinion changed the game when we were struggling at the back.

Cadiar added 11:18 - Jan 13
It does seem there is a new togetherness & confidence in the team, early days but the quality has improved 100% & clean sheets which is so important.

Jugsy added 13:20 - Jan 13
RegencyBlue - i've good friend who's a Sheff Wednesday fan and there weren't any tears in him leaving. Problem seems to be he's been labelled a left-back when the defensive part of his game is lacking, which is fine if he's played in the right position but not as an out and out defender. I was at the Plymouth game and the ball that came in the box for the equaliser should have been handled by him, but instead he focused on trying to shield the opposition player, which was an awful judgement call. He's not a defender but looks to be a solid wing-back and it seems McKenna has found a system that works for Penney, which is great news. Looks like he's got a good few assists up his sleeve.

Monkey_Blue added 14:26 - Jan 13
Penney mentioning not only picking the managers brains but also his coaching team speaks volumes. Shows how poor a decision it was to hire cooks mates rather than people he knew were good coaches. We’ve replaced a relic with a contemporary progressive manager who wants results rather than a scouse drinking crew.

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