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McKenna: It’s Already Pretty Fixed in My Mind What Needs to Be Improved in the Summer
Saturday, 23rd Apr 2022 18:07

Manager Kieran McKenna felt he could add to much more to what he’d said after previous games following the Blues’ 1-1 draw with bottom club Crewe.

Town have drawn eight of their last 14, with five of their last seven away games having ended all-square, most matches the Blues will feel they should have won.

“Probably not too much different that I can add,” McKenna said when asked whether it was essentially the same story for his side. ”It was a lot of the same aspects of the performance.

“I didn’t think it was a great game overall, to be honest. Conditions were difficult, I didn’t think the level of the game was that high.

“But we put ourselves in a good position, 1-0 up, had chances to go and kill the game, didn’t do it and 1-0 is not enough in this league to be completely secure and it’s a really poor goal that we concede.

“Something we were doing well a little while ago was clean sheets, really defending well as a team, to see games out whenever we needed to, and that’s two games now, Wigan on Tuesday night and today.

“The goals that we conceded were not acceptable, won’t be accepted. We need to get back to that as a team.

“We know need to score more goals, that’s clear, that’s something that will be improved but the players that are here, we need to get back to the mindset of clean sheets, defending well and if we’ve got a narrow lead in a game we have to see the game out with more determination and resilience than we’ve seen today.”

McKenna had been keen to end the season on two wins with the travelling support having been impressive throughout the campaign.

“The away fans have definitely been fantastic all year, probably deserved to win to go home happy,” he said.

“We couldn’t have been in a better position really, 1-0 up, they’re throwing bodies forward, leaving loads of space and the onus is on us to have to go and kill the game in that scenario.

“There was a big wind, the last few minutes of the final home game of the season so they’re going to go and put some pressure on our goal at the end of the game and we have to go and see it out.

“The away fans have been fantastic, we can’t ask for any more, we only hope we get the same level of support next year and it’s up to us and the club to be really crystal clear about the things that we need to improve up net year.”

How easy to change the mindset and instil a ruthless streak? “Mindset is part of it, it’s not the only part of it. It’s mindset, it’s coaching, it’s recruitment, it’s everything.

“There’s different work we have to do on the pitch, there’s a lot of work to be done off the pitch and it’s clear for this group at the moment that’s a big step that needs to be made.”

McKenna included youngster Cameron Humphreys and Tawanda Chirewa on the bench - as well as keeper Nick Hayes - but neither made it on to the field.

“No, which was a shame,” McKenna said. “With the position that we had at half-time, you’re hoping that the game would go that way.

“Obviously they’re trusted to play even with a narrow lead but just the type of game that it was probably going to be in that spell of the game when we hadn’t got the second goal, it was always probably going to be a few balls and pressure coming into our box, so it probably wasn’t the right game for them to come and flourish.

“Two talented young players we believe in and think could have a part to play going forward.”

McKenna was pleased with Kane Vincent-Young’s display at right wing-back, the former Colchester man having created Conor Chaplin’s goal.

“Yes, good to see him back on the pitch,” he said. “It’s been a frustrating time for him but Kane came in and gave it his all, a little bit higher up than he’s done previously.

“He carried a little bit of a threat through the game and obviously got a good assist.”

Sone Aluko and Wes Burns missed out with knocks and McKenna says the pair may well not be involved in next week’s final game of the season at home to Charlton.

“Both touch and go, to be honest,” he said. “Wes and Sone both touch and go. They’re not going to be training in the early part of next week. Probably the best case scenario is that they can join the group at the back end of next week. We’ll have to wait and see how the week goes.”

The Northern Irishman says he’d like to end the season on a high when the Addicks visit Portman Road.

“I think so,” he continued. “There’s a responsibility to the supporters to make sure that we do. I thought Tuesday night performance-wise was a high, it was maybe as good as we’ve been for large parts of that game.

“I think everyone who came to that game really enjoyed it, enjoyed the performance and then energy in the game and we need to go and recreate a similar sort of atmosphere next Saturday and then again if we get in those winning positions then we have to do better than we are at the moment.”

Asked whether he’s still learning what he needs to do in the summer on a game by game basis, he added: “I don’t think there’s many different lessons at the moment, we seem to be getting the same lesson repeatedly.

“There are things that we’ve spoken about but sometimes there are so many things you can speak about and there are some other things that you need to do.

“Every game’s an education, obviously this is my first time playing Crewe away from home and you learn about the different teams and things like that, but I think it’s probably already pretty fixed in my mindset in terms of what needs to be improved in the summer.”

Crewe interim-manager Alex Morris felt his side were worthy of taking a point from the game.

“I thought we got exactly what we deserved from the game,” he told his club's official site. “I thought the lads were terrific in all aspects, not so good with the ball until the later aspects of the game but I think our defensively our play was very good.

“There were also some good opportunities to catch them out of shape on the counter-attack in the first half but we didn’t quite get that final pass right. Maybe there was a lack of belief at the top of the end of the pitch.

“Second half it levelled out a bit, there wasn’t a lot happening at both ends of the pitch but we came to life in the last 15 minutes which is really pleasing. That bodes well for the future.

“We switched off for a split second for their goal. We didn’t put enough pressure on high up the pitch and Chaplin ghosted in to score.

“Whilst it changed the complexion of the game, the message stayed the same at half-time. There were still those positives. I thought we were nice and compact and looked to attack in transition.

“I was delighted with the way we finished the game. We were on the front foot and spending more time in their half of the pitch.

“It was a terrific strike to give us a point and I was delighted for Tom. The only thing that was disappointing that we had three corners where we could have forced the issue but we put one out for a goal-kick and two in to the goalkeeper's hands. We gave up those opportunities to win the game.”

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Barty added 18:09 - Apr 23
To be honest there is a lot to be improved on

Radlett_blue added 18:21 - Apr 23
A complete waste of a dead rubber. If there was an opportunity to see which of the kids might be ready, this was it. But he brings on Celina with 20 minutes left FFS!

Monkey_Blue added 18:27 - Apr 23
The margins can be fine and we don’t have a terrible group of players as we didn’t before the takeover. Obviously we don’t need 19 new signings but probably need 3 or 4 new strikers and a partner for Morsy, plus LWB probably needs 2 new arrivals. Norwood should have been dumped before but I can’t believe we’ll keep him, sign Bonne permanently or reject a half decent offer for Pigott.

pennblue added 18:42 - Apr 23
Perhaps a blessing in disguise that McKenna has seen the defence in the past 2 games give away goals, as in the 1st half of the season defence was our weakness. After a few clean sheets, it would be easy for him to assume defence is largely sorted (apart from left back), but given we have also scored pretty much zero from corners all season, he can see that maybe the whole defence needs a good looking at.

Midfield too, Bakinson and Morsy playing together, not sure this works that well overall. Would prefer Morsy being the defensive one and having a more natural attacking player alongside him.

Then we have the whole attacking play to sort out. Lots of work to do, but we take the best of this crop and add in some more quality, we will have a very very strong side next season.


Len_Brennan added 18:56 - Apr 23
"1-0 is not enough in this league to be completely secure"
- It's not enough in any league Kieran.

jas0999 added 19:03 - Apr 23
New strikers and left side options. All loans to go … if we can keep Celina great, but he is a bit of a luxury player. If Evans can’t be relied on, then we may need a replacement. Bakinson is hot and miss.

ArnieM added 19:08 - Apr 23
Well if he’s that certain , like us , he reckons the whole of the attack will need relaxing and part of the midfield and the left side of the pitch . So we agree then. That’s HALF the team .

surgery added 19:08 - Apr 23
And we don’t want any Man U prima donna school playground show off kids on loan. We need a Northern battering ram goal scoring centre forward to get us out of this league, and I for one don’t care how many drink driving convictions he has so long as he scores goals

ArnieM added 19:09 - Apr 23
Ps a bit of continuity in the front three attackers wouldn’t have gone amiss either !!

ArnieM added 19:13 - Apr 23
Pps our current attack is already “ relaxing “ lol … it should have been REPLACED ( obviously) ….

Drifter3012 added 20:15 - Apr 23
Sadly the way we play has become as predictable as the Lambert & Cook days. Other teams know what to expect and seemingly adapt accordingly as in the Lambert & Cook eras. Whereas we seem to stick with a rigid system that just hasn't been working of late. Really hoping McKenna can get in a few players that suit league 1 better than some of the lightweights we have now.

muhrensleftfoot added 20:36 - Apr 23
Stop Burns and you stop Ipswich. When Burns doesn't even feature, then nothing for the opposition to worry about. Lots to do pre season. Left side, up front and central midfield. A plan B would help too

SickParrot added 20:39 - Apr 23
After a significant improvement in both performances and results after KM took over (9 wins, 30 points and just 2 defeats from 14 games) we've failed to get anywhere near to that standard since (just 1 win, 8 points and 2 defeats from 8 games). Promotion was always a long shot given our results before KM was appointed but the way our season has petered out is a real disappointment. The only plus is that KM should now know which players he can trust to maintain a decent standard in most games (Walton, Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Burgess, Morsy, Burns and Aluko only ?), those that are less consistent but who have the ability to be match winners (Celina and Chaplin ?) and those that are at best just back up players (the rest ?). We can only hope that KM and his team identify the players we need and that MA can complete the signings.

Bazza8564 added 20:51 - Apr 23
Really disappointed in that, long journey great atmosphere and we just didnt show. Norwood tried hard but isnt quick enough any more, Chaplin worked hard and the CB and GK looked engaged but so many of the others looked disinterested or were already on the beach. El Miz playing at RWB is an interesting one, cover for Burns next season perhaps?
We miss Wes massively, and frankly there will be 4-5 of the starters today who wont be around next year. Not good enough by far, frankly we deserved more effort than that, dead rubber or not

ringwoodblue added 20:53 - Apr 23
“ Every game’s an education, obviously this is my first time playing Crewe away from home and you learn about the different teams and things like that”

Ok, so we have wait until we play every team once before we can figure out how to beat them? That doesn’t bode well for Forest Green, Exeter, TBC, Posh, Derby or Barnsley next season.

McK learnt sod all about the youngsters today other than how they sit. Ridiculous!

AlanG296 added 21:08 - Apr 23
Only team McKenna's played twice is Gillingham, going by those games, we shouldn't assume the "education" always improves performances.

blueboy1981 added 21:14 - Apr 23
Personally, I think McKenna has been found wanting, in his first Managerial role - a new broom will always sweep cleaner than the old one - for a while …… !!!
He’s a nice guy, came from a big Club - but he will either cut the Ice next season, or not, and join our Merry Go Round of Managers.
Too many of the same repeat problems over the past 6-8 games to be impressed, equally so with the season ‘gone’ - why have we not seen a few more youngsters blooded and given a run out in preference to loans who surely will not be here next season …. !!!
I wish McKenna well - he may well need it to be honest.

cat added 21:26 - Apr 23
Edmondson has been a huge loss but the players and manager standards have slipped. I’m actually in the mindset now of is McK the right man to take us forward. Recent form suggests otherwise but he deserves the chance next season with his team to see what he is about

algarvefan added 22:05 - Apr 23
I have no doubt that McKenna is the right man for the job, I think he is so thorough that he will go on to have a good career with us, setting him up to be a top manager.

I'm glad in a way that we have ended the season like this, this squad is Paul Cooks squad, purchased quickly, with not a great deal of thought and some will not be in McK's plans this summer. People forget it took 20 years of neglect to get us to where we were last season and I wouldn't be surprised if it too another couple of years to gain promotion. This is and should be a long term project for Town. The team performing as the have for the past 6 weeks or so shows what needs to be done. I think we have 5 maybe 6 nailed on players but that's it, the summer transfer market will be vital for us.

Please people keep the faith, but probably not all the players we currently have.

ChrisFelix added 22:14 - Apr 23
Our season fell away after Lee Evans was injured.With Harper already shipped out, Bakinson was always going to fall short as his replacement.
I hope Bonne isn't signed permanently, he got lucky during the early season & as time wore on we saw why QPR allowed him out on loan.It is a shame Piggott was given the same amount of games, & no doubt will move on & score loads of goals elswhere


Lathers added 23:38 - Apr 23
A really disappointing end to the season, but McKenna needs the summer transfer window and a summer with the players to get things sorted. He’s done well with Cook’s hastily assembled group, but as we’ve all seen, only half a dozen of them are nailed on starters. Young manager with lots to learn but I’m backing McKenna to work out how to get us out of L1 next season.

ButchersBrokenNose added 00:16 - Apr 24
I'm convinced that Mr. McKenna is the right man to take us forward, but it occurs to me that he is in the same position now as Cook was at the end of last season. Cook took over Lambert's team and was basically given a pass for the rest of the season, albeit we were disappointed he didn't get us into the play-offs. The difference is: Cook didn't realize that the honeymoon was over when this season started and that he needed to deliver results and quickly; I think Kieran knows that he will have to hit the ground running in August. I hope Gamechanger and Mr. Ashton give him enough time, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are looking for immediate progress on their investment, and if it isn't forthcoming, they'll look for someone who can deliver it.

Cakeman added 07:10 - Apr 24
It was a bad start to the season and almost equally as bad an ending. We had a mix of very good performances coupled with frustrating results in the middle of the season.
Trying to remain positive, Kieran knows what he would like to do and change for next season. Mark Ashton is ready to get after the transfer targets as soon as he is allowed too. We didn’t have that preparation available to us last Summer.
It is vital we get off to a good start from 30th July onwards. The league we are in which standard wise is not as bad as some people remark upon is going to be very tough to get out of. The top half will comprise of teams of similar standard to ours.
One thing that I believe will be different is that our owners will not wait until late November before they make managerial changes if they feel the need too.
Kieran will know what is expected of him and those around him.
I am optimistic with my Blue coloured glasses on that all will end up good. If I do t think positive there is no pint in me going to Portman Road. Let’s have a great 22/23!

tractorboybig added 07:57 - Apr 24
i think all us football lay men are quite aware whats needed, lets hope you are the man thats needed.

PortmanTerrorist added 08:46 - Apr 24
Geez calm down all. Results have not been ideal of late but our Club and now our Team is showing signs of rediscovering its identity. This is NOT KMs team, he has simply shaped what he had and massively improved us without any spend. Let the Club do their thing off the pitch and KM have a pre season before any judgement. I for one see no reason why we cannot make the adjustments and be a force next season. Trust the process! COYB

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