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McKenna: Ipswich is Going to Be a Very Good Place For Young Players to Be Over the Next Few Years
Friday, 25th Mar 2022 15:57

Boss Kieran McKenna believes Town is going to be a very good place for young players over the next few years but stresses the importance of patience.

Departing U23s manager Kieron Dyer cited the lack of a pathway for his youngsters into the first team as among his reasons for resigning from his role earlier in the week.

Quizzed on how he views young players and their importance going forward, McKenna said: “I think the academy has certainly been a very important part of my pathway and my progression to getting here.

“And since I’ve worked in first-team football, certainly our record as a staff at Man United over the last few years, as it has been always at Man United, has been massively towards trusting young players and developing young players.

“That’s something I very much believe in, something that I feel like I have good experience of and a good eye for and a good track record in.

“I think Ipswich is going to be a very good place for young players to be over the next few years, in my opinion, hopefully with the quality of the coaching and development that there’s going to be, the style of play that the first team are going to play that often lends well to young talented players coming into that type of football.

“I think it’s going to be a club that’s hopefully very attractive for young players but as is always the case, it has to be my decision and the staff’s decision on when somebody is ready to make that impact in the first team.

“The timing of that is very important. I think patience in youth development is very, very important for players and for staff. It has to be at the right time, you have to make well-informed decisions about when it’s the moment to stretch and challenge a player and when is the moment to keep working hard behind the scenes.

“I feel like that’s an area that not just myself but also my staff have really good experience in and we’ll look to draw on that experience over the next few years.”

Dyer also said that he feels Cameron Humphreys, 18, is the best midfielder at the club aside from skipper Sam Morsy.

Humphreys, who the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Leeds and Blackburn have all sent representatives to run the rule over this season, hasn’t featured since McKenna took over having made one start and two sub appearances earlier in the campaign.

The likes of Tawanda Chirewa, Elkan Baggott, Albie Armin, Tommy Hughes and Zanda Siziba have also enjoyed impressive seasons for the U23s, who currently top Professional Development League Two South.

“As for the U23s now, there’s a good group of players there that I’ve seen quite a bit of over the last few months but still want to continue to see more of them,” McKenna continued.

“I could name names but I won’t do for now because I think it’s quite a talented batch of players some of whom are 17 years old and 17 years old is very young to make any grand statements about where a player is going to be in a couple of years’ time or where their true level is.

“I think at 17, 18 years old it’s important to work very, very hard on the training pitch, listen to your coaches, develop yourself, be hungry and be ready for opportunities as and when they come.

“I think that’s the most important thing for a player of that age and what our players will be focusing on.

“And from the attitude I’ve seen from the U23 group so far, that’s something that I think they do well and I’ve been very pleased with the interactions I’ve had with that group of players.

“I look forward to seeing more of them, developing more of them and I think the development of high quality young players is going to be a big, big part of the club over the next few years.”

McKenna admits that Dyer’s exit came as a shock: “It was a surprise. I’ve had a good relationship with Kieron in the short time that I’ve been here. I didn’t know him before, but we’ve had some good conversations, he was very welcoming to the club, and he’s a good bouncing board on players in the last couple of months.

“He’s been involved in a few of our training sessions and we’ve been involving him, trying to strengthen that link whenever we can.

“So it did come as a surprise. I’ve had a couple of texts with Kieron over the last couple of days, but I haven’t had too much of an in-depth conversation with him.

“Hopefully, we’ll meet up for a coffee over the next couple of weeks and I can have a chat with him and also just take a little bit more from his experiences at the football club and obviously, he’s a legend of the club as well, so hopefully we’ll continue to stay in touch.

“He obviously has his reasons and I’ll have a conversation with him and understand him that bit more, but from my time at the club, I can only say that we had a positive relationship and obviously wish him the best for the future.”

McKenna says that other than his texts with Dyer he hasn’t caught up with what the former England midfielder has said since his departure.

“I haven’t read that much, to be honest,” he added. “As I said, I had a couple of private texts from Kieron where we haven’t gone into too much, but he said he felt like it was the right time for him to move on.

“I haven’t read too much about what has been said, so I think in respect to him, I’d rather have that conversation with him privately whenever we get a chance.”

Regarding Dyer’s replacement, McKenna says there have been no discussions regarding who might come in with John McGreal having joined the club in a role assisting Dyer late last year.

“There haven’t been too many conversations yet,” he said. “Obviously, it’s only happened this week, so I haven’t had a chance to speak to the club and give my input into that yet.

“Obviously, we’re in a lucky position that we had two very good coaches at that age group with Kieron and John, who has been working with him anyway, and obviously Bryan Klug, who is involved in those age groups as well, so we have good staff there, experienced and highly capable staff within the club.

“Hopefully, the programme will be able to continue seamlessly and keep moving forward in the way that it has been lately.”

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MickMillsTash added 16:14 - Mar 25
Liked Humphries when he played vs Newport. Looked like he could do many of jobs of a midfielder.

Linkboy13 added 16:32 - Mar 25
Keiron Dyer rated Humphreys second best midfield player at the club after Morsy that's better than Celina that's some statement. Mind you he also rated Paul Cook as a manager and doesn't seem to like Keiron McKenna a lot so i take that with a pinch of salt. There are times KD when you don't get your own way you have to keep your toys in the cot.

Europablue added 16:40 - Mar 25
I can't help feeling that the timing is bad from KD. He definitely can feel a bit aggrieved to have been overlooked, but the club is being run so much better now it definitely feels like he would have benefited from seeing how things go for a year or so, especially as the U23s are doing so well and now the clubs is finally starting to be run properly. I am sure that we'll see McKenna bringing the youth players through, but it is a bit of tall ask right now. Having said that, Simpson surely deserves a place on the bench to reward him for his efforts.

pragmatic added 16:41 - Mar 25
In true McKenna style, subject eloquently addressed, whilst Kieron Dyer will have a lot to offer on recovery from his liver transplant, sometimes taking away the immediate emotion & a bit of lateral thinking is required .

SheptonMalletBlue added 16:41 - Mar 25
Calm, level headed and speaks in such a way that you get it. Think we're very fortunate to have him as our manager.

Edmundo added 16:52 - Mar 25
Hard for McK to answer questions about this, but I agree with above: for someone who loves the club, KD has potentially rocked the boat at an important time. I get he is ill, but maybe needed to just walk quietly rather than do the social media darling thing.

yorkieblue62 added 17:55 - Mar 25
Of course there hasn't been much of a pathway to the first team squad since McK took over as he's taken 32 pts from 16 games., though I would have given Simpson a look in view of our striking problems. So very disappointed with Dyer's sulk and think there must be more to it than we know.

blues1 added 18:01 - Mar 25
Linkboy13 . How do u work it out that dyer doesn't like mckenna? Clearly praises him generously in his interview.

therein61 added 19:24 - Mar 25
I think K.D's problem is with John McGreal, shame because i reckon he has the makings of a top coach provided his health holds out but that could be the underlying issue as it must be hard to deal with and this is just an i'm feeling sorry for myself moment and lashing out in the juvenile attitude that he has shown at times in his career on and off the field, i think he will in hindsight regret this move because we don't want to lose people who love our club.

budgieplucker added 21:01 - Mar 25
Just think Keiron Dyer’s frustrations got the better of him at a time when he says he needs to be within 90 minutes of Addenbrookes at all times to respond to that transplant call. Given KD’s health it’s a shame he couldn’t lay low with the help of the club until he came out the other end. Yes I understand his frustration when he believes we have a very talented crop of youngsters ready to push on, but kMck inherited a large squad with many experienced players that will take a couple of windows to iron out a reasonable balanced squad, Plus look at both the WBA “super kids” Harper and Edwards both looking to be very talented young players and how they both struggled to make an impact on some of these dour Tier 3 teams. Think with Baggott and Ndaba (who has done very well at Salford) returning that we will be well stocked with defenders next season. I can see a handful of players leaving or going on long term loans but really we only need a good left back, a Celina return and a couple of new and more consistent strikers plus maybe a Morsy backup to take this league by the complete scruff of the neck next season. I can see Humphreys and Simpson becoming part of that. Hopefully KD will return at some point in the future but with our young current manager KD may need to go and try his hand with a Club like Colchester

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 04:05 - Mar 26
The best part of K McK's interview for me was, "my staff have really good experience ... and we’ll look to draw on that experience over the next few years." If he is planning on being with us for the long term, that's music to my ears.

Essexipswichboy added 10:12 - Mar 27
Mistake on KD part
This job was ticking all the boxes for him....all he had to do was bide his time, unfortunately now I think his chance is gone I can't see Ashton and co putting up with this

I get it's frustrating that this guy is here and younger than him...but I'm sure KM was frustrated that his playing career was ended the way it was. In a couple of years when KD has recovered from his illness ...he will have learned more from a clearly very good coach ...KD would be in prime position for this job, because although I hate to say it KM probably already raising eyebrows

OldFart71 added 17:22 - Mar 27
Just hope KD hasn't shot himself in the foot. It is understandable that he is a bit peeved about players not being given a go, but from McKenna's point of view whilst Town still have an outside chance of a playoff place and are playing well why risk a young player. Had we have been out of any chance then by all means give a few youngsters a run out. Also we do not know what McGreal was promised when he came to the club. It was, if reading between the lines, obvious that any faltering by Paul Cook and he was out. He wasn't Gamechangers choice of manager and as we know Marcus Evans choice of managers were a complete failure. Therefore I suggest McGreal came in and was promised a place once a new manager came in. From KD's point of view this clearly looked like he had been overlooked despite being proclaimed by many players as a good guy and a great coach. But remember although everything seems geared to making things positive and a family club there has to be a certain amount of ruthlessness under the surface as the aim is ultimately a Premier League place and I would imagine not just to do a Norwich yo-yo side, but to be in the Prem for many years.

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