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McKenna: Any Team in Any Division in the World Would Be Delighted With Our Start
Saturday, 7th Oct 2023 19:10

Blues boss Kieran McKenna says virtually any club in world football would be happy with Town’s 28 points from their first 11 matches, let alone a team newly promoted to the Championship, but says Town will need to keep working hard to improve and maintain that form.

McKenna’s side go into the second international break of the season second, eight points in front of third-placed Preston, who they beat 4-2 at Portman Road this afternoon.

The Blues manager agreed that his team wasn’t always at the high level they set during Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat of Hull City but that they once again found a way of securing all three points.

“It’s the seventh game in a 21-day period and all of the games have been high-level games, no room to rest in the game and very little time to rest in between,” he reflected.

“Parts of the performance looked like that but on the other hand we scored four goals, could have scored more goals, found ways to score goals.

“An excellent set piece, two excellent set pieces really, if we include the second phase that we executed really well for the third goal.

“A great individual goal and substitutes coming on and pressing the ball well, winning it back and scoring on the break.

“We showed enough good things in the performance to score goals and be good value for the four goals.

“Of course, some mistakes in there, which I think you can partly account to the fact that we weren’t at our freshest. But we found enough in the performance to go and win the game.”

Town once again showed their resilience, appearing unaffected by Preston equalising at 1-1 and then pulling a goal back just after half-time to make it 3-2.

“We speak a lot about just trying to do the right things for 90 minutes,” he said. “Keeping going and if we try and do the right things for 90 minutes, if we stay positive, stay aggressive, as we can be, then it’s going to take a pretty decent team to outscore us.mAnd if that happens on the day, then we can live with that.

“But do the right things for 90 minutes and stick together and keep trying to do what we believe in and in general we did that, we didn’t execute everything, but we executed enough.

“The second goal was a big moment and probably a sign individually of resilience from Brandon [Williams] to take the game and the moment by the scruff of the neck after we’d had a setback and produce a great goal.

“We had other moments like that individually in the game that were a big positive for us.”

Regarding Williams, who is on loan with the Blues from Manchester United for the season, he added: “A good performance, he’s getting stronger game by game. Getting back into good habits as a football player and as a defender on and off the ball.

“He’s getting back towards the levels that I know he’s capable of, but I think more importantly it’s about pushing him past those levels because he’s young and hopefully he’s got some good years in his career and big moments ahead of him. It’s about getting back to doing all the right things.

“He’s been a really good contributor this last month with his performances on both sides of the pitch with the versatility he brings to the squad. I think it’s clear to see the aggression and the positivity in his game on and off the ball that supporters can really get behind and that will endear you to teammates as well.

“We’re happy to have him here, he knows he’s got a lot of work still to do but I think it’s been a few weeks that he’ll take a lot of confidence from to continue working hard next week.”

All five of Town’s subs, Freddie Ladapo, Marcus Harness, Jack Taylor, Omari Hutchinson and scorer Kayden Jackson, all combined for the fourth goal which sealed the victory.

“As I’ve said, it was the seventh game in 21 days and after such a high of Tuesday night, you always want to be at your absolute best but you’re not going to be every week,” he continued.

“We didn’t make too many changes to the team from Tuesday, I feel like there are a lot of players there in good rhythm and confidence from Tuesday.

“But I always felt early substitutions were going to be key in the game on 60 minutes and fresh legs to help us whatever the game state would be.

“In this game state, a goal ahead, defend well, but take a big moment in an attacking sense whenever it came, and in general the substitutes all did that.

“They helped us to defend well, gave us fresh energy, which we definitely needed and combined really well to go and kill the game off.

“And that’s something that was really important to us and something we didn’t do so much early in the season.

“We spoke a lot about that about winning games by one-goal margins, we can be cleaner and execute well on counter-attacks, it wasn’t really a counter-attack, but in those sort of transition-y moments to go and kill the game off and get the two-goal margin, that’s massive.

“Another great one for the squad, great again for the goals to be shared around the whole group and that’s only a positive for us.”

McKenna was asked if he is happy for home games to be such high-scoring affairs with Town’s six Portman Road Championship matches having yielded a total of 30 goals. The five away have brought eight.

Quizzed on whether there’s a ‘we’re going to score one more than you’ approach, McKenna smiled.

“I’m sure from the outside it looks like that’s outlook, but we take a lot of pride in our defending,” he said.

“We’ve had five clean sheets out of 11 games as well, so we take a lot of pride in our defending, we take a lot of pride in how we defend set plays and we didn’t do those two things well for the two goals today.

“We want to score as many goals as we can and we’re going to stay really brave and really aggressive with our play right through the season and try and have goals from all over the pitch and goals in different ways and be a really exciting team to watch.

“But we want to be really defensively good as well and I think in general we have shown that we can be that and we are that at times in this division but there’s probably too many goals and moments in the game today and maybe some of the last home games that we have to address and we have to improve.

“I didn’t think we got opened up at any point today, I didn’t think we had any vulnerabilities on set plays first ball, the zone looked good, the line was good, our organisation was good and we conceded very, very, very few chances.

“We’re delighted to look such an attacking threat at the moment and we want to keep being really brave and positive in our play, but I know the group of players down there don’t enjoy conceding goals either and won’t have enjoyed conceding two goals in a game in which we were rarely threatened. That’s something that I know individually and as a group, they’ll be really hungry to improve.”

Asked about the corner routine which led to the opening goal scored by Conor Chaplin, he said: “You never want to give too many things away on these things. A big credit to the staff for their work on set plays and for their work yesterday on identifying it and working on the routine.

“We put a little variation on it on the type of routine that we worked and we identified something that we could add or do a little bit better in it and we adapted the routine a little bit and it was a massive part of getting the first goal.

“It was a day where we knew the set plays were going to be really important. I know they’ve conceded four goals again but I think defensively they’re a good team.

“Their xG is really low, they don’t give up too many big chances in games and we knew that the set plays were going to be really, really important, especially when they were defending with a deep line of five and trying to be really hard to break down.

“And getting that first goal and the way we were playing in the end caused them to change shape, go to a back four, which really opened the game up for the rest of the game, really.

“We know very well from last season that when we’re facing a deep defence here and we’re dominating games at home that set plays are massive for us, and if we can open the game up with the first goal from a set play, then it gives us a great chance.”

The win sees Town stay second, two points behind leaders Leicester, and eight points ahead of the Lilywhites in third going into the second international break.

Asked whether he could have dreamt of being in this position at this point in the campaign, McKenna said: “I think our points total is an incredible effort from any team in any division, take out [that we’re] a newly-promoted team or anything like that.

“To have 28 points at this stage of the season with this many wins, pretty much any team in the world in any division would be delighted with that start.

“Of course, we’re really happy with that, but beyond that, I’ll keep saying, it’s not something that we speak about too much.

“We didn’t set any totals or any targets, we won’t for the next block, we’ll reflect on where we’re at as a team and try and get better, and keep trying to go on this journey of being a really good team at this level.

“We’ve taken some good steps to it but we think there are steps to go and this break now gives us a chance to pause on that and look to build on the performances going forward into the next block.

“But we know how hard the division is and that is why the players deserve massive credit for the great start because every game’s hard-fought, the games are so different, so challenging and we have to do a lot of things right to go and win the game, and we’re going to have to work really, really hard to improve to keep hopefully performing well and winning.”

McKenna believes now is a good moment to have a break: “I think the challenge would be really, really big without it, to be honest, with how much I see that that playing group are giving day-in, day-out and on the pitch every weekend.

“We have to use these pauses well. Really big for those who aren’t going away and I think even for those who are going away, it’s still a mental freshener, it’s still a change of scenery. As they say, a change is as a good as a rest sometimes, so let’s hope that’s the case.

“I think these pause points that naturally come in the flow of a Championship season for us as a newly-promoted team and the efforts that we’re putting in, I think they’re really important and we’ve got to use it well, as we did in the last break.

“Again it’ll be a mixture of some time off, some time for the staff to look back and reflect and identify the areas that we’ll need to improve in the next block.

“We’ll try and get a friendly match if possible as well so that we can accumulate some more minutes into the squad where we need it and try and come back firing again against Rotherham on a early return on the Friday night.”

The Blues boss had praise for the 29,000-strong Town support, who stayed with the players even after the equaliser went in and when the visitors pulled a goal back in the second half.

“I think that’s massive for us,” he said. “We want this to be a great place to play football. That’s one of the things I set out when I came here and spoke to the group was making this one of the best places to watch football in the country.

“We were in the middle of League One at that point and we’re not there yet, but I think the supporters can see the effort of the players.

“They can see the style of play, they identify with the work that’s going on, they identify with the characters on the pitch, they see the efforts that the players are giving for the football club and I think they’re quite rightly right behind the boys.

“And I know the players, myself and the staff and [CEO] Mark [Ashton] and the board are so appreciative of what they’re giving us at the moment as well because we’re selling the stadium out and they’re travelling in big numbers away from home.

“They’re sticking with us, they’re sticking with our football even when they can see that it takes a lot of bravery and we have to execute really, really well to do what we want to do.

“They really are sticking behind us and that really helps the players on the pitch because it means there’s less tension on the pitch, and it helps the players to really execute well.

“They’ve been great. I think the bond there between the supporters and those on the pitch is something that we’ve worked really hard to get and we want to work really hard to fight to continue.

“I know we’re not going to win every game but if we keep giving our all every game and we keep trying to play our football, then the supporters will stay with this group.”

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MK1 added 19:18 - Oct 7
Just unbelievable. What a manager you are. I am actually falling in love with this guy.

sheepy606 added 19:20 - Oct 7
Get in line MK1 :-)

MK1 added 19:26 - Oct 7
What he, the back room staff, coaches and players are achieving is just unbelievable. Today was a gutsy performance and not an easy win, but we still managed it in style. Absolutely fantastic to come so far so soon.

Mark added 19:36 - Oct 7
To be 8 points ahead of the team in third place in the Championship, with a better goal difference by 14, after 11 games is just unbelieveable. What a fantastic start to the season. Huge credit to McKenna and everyone at the club.

ipswichboi added 19:36 - Oct 7
Amazing performance today yet again from all involved.

He's 100% the man to take us to the next level and I want them all to know how much we appreciate this, seeing the players fighting for literally everything is something we haven't had for so so long.

Most can enjoy a well deserved break now. Would be awesome to see Mass and Burge get a run out against England. No injuries please!

pennblue added 19:36 - Oct 7
I hope when the approaches start coming for Kieran, he can look back at what Robson and Sir Alf achieved at the club and realise this is a great place where he can gain experience as a manager without the level of pressure he might be under at other clubs. The stars are aligning at this club right now and he could do a lot worse than to ride this wave.

muccletonjoe added 19:50 - Oct 7
In seasons gone by , I used to wonder what the players we had then , got up to during the week. Because they played like total strangers.
I don't wonder anymore.
This is what a real manager does. Keeps improving , keeps encouraging, keeps finding new things to add to our approach. He earns his money ten times over and shows what we really had before he came , particularly when we got relegated from this league.

IpswichT62OldBoy added 20:20 - Oct 7
Fans know when players are trying, when there is soul and there in heart in team.
When players care and run their guts out then regardless of the result we see all of that and respect them because they respect us.
Mr McKenna has created this and the whole County of Suffolk is buzzing as a consequence.

shadoof1016 added 20:37 - Oct 7
Just wanted to say I had my doubts about Williams but what I saw today was a guy who would go through a brick wall for you who is improving week by week. A superb goal but that tackle ten minutes from the end epitomised his performance with grit and determination……and then had the sheer audacity to wind the crowd up…….just brilliant…….McK just a brilliant tactician who every week uses his subs to the max. Transparent club going places……so everyone enjoy the ride.

Karlosfandangal added 21:09 - Oct 7
A season ticket for me is not worth it as I can’t make a lot of the home games so now very hard to get a ticket which for me is a shame but for the club to have a full stadium and fans not getting tickets is excellent.

Wonder how long before the look at making Portman Road bigger

gippeswyk added 22:03 - Oct 7
Was reading the PNE forum and lots of compliments about Town including

Warton PNE said:
For what it’s worth, Ipswich are about 20 times better than Leicester.

We’re getting absolutely shagged but they’re cracking to watch
Thought Leicester would be Decent to watch come start of season but Ipswich have been fantastic there a team that's for certain Ipswich more entertaining than Leicester who have come down.

terry_butchers_twin added 22:03 - Oct 7
Do you want entertainment? Come to Portman Road!! EIGHT games and THIRTY SEVEN GOALS!! 24 for and 14 against. Higher scorers at home in the league and tightest defence away….WHAT A TEAM!!!!!!

shakytown added 02:07 - Oct 8
So well grounded. What a manager we have and we can still improve both as a team and by strengthening the squad.

MK1 added 08:05 - Oct 8
Karlosfandangal :- They are already drawing up plans to extend 2 of the exsisting stands and to bring our capacity up to around the 40,000 mark, with a furture capacity of 45,000. Think that will be our limits at Portman Road.

Len_Brennan added 09:33 - Oct 8
We've said it before, but it's worth repeating; the best bit of business the club did during the summer, was tying KMcK down to a new contract.
No contract will stop a manager from going if they really want to, and I'm sure a guy as smart & knowlegable as KMcK has ensured that there is a clause or two in his favour in there, but as best as can be assured at this point, he is going nowhere this season (at least) despite the fact that every Premier League club outside the big 6, and every recently relegated club in the Championship, must have him at the top of their wishlist in the event of a managerial change.
His own pride & the chance to achieve consecutive promotions, with this bunch of players, & the support of the board, also make it almost guaranteed (in my opinion) that he won't be tempted away, this side of the summer anyway.

Nomore4 added 09:51 - Oct 8
Len Brennan. I wish I could agree. But football or life doesn’t run like that.
KMcK will want to reach the top asap. And earn enough to set up his family for generations to come.
I fear it’s only a matter of time before that “Big” club comes calling.

Nigeglos added 11:38 - Oct 8
If Ipswich win at Rotherham, it will equal the best start in the championship by any club since it was created.
Leicester of course could beat it or match it with a draw.

IndianaBlue added 15:03 - Oct 8
Clearly we will not be able to keep this up for the whole of the season, but we have now doubled the combined total of points of our fellow promotion teams of last year.
ITFC. 28. PA+SW *2. 28.
Just shows the quality of our team compared to to normal performance level of promoted teams

On another note, the way that Williams celebrated after his goal, you would never guess he was only on loan. Looked like a local boy scoring for his home town club.

HalesworthBlue7 added 19:18 - Oct 8
Another fantastic performance, we are truly blessed to have Mckenna and just wish his heart will be into seeing his project through when the big boys come calling. Mk1 do you truly know about increasing our capacity, would love to see us grow, any ideas when and where this improvements are going to happen ....?

Bazza8564 added 10:29 - Oct 10
Two years ago we were in a complete mess. To be fair Mike O'Leary and Mark Ashton promised us something special was coming in time and have delivered way beyond whet we had any right to expect.
Capacity crowds, pleas for a bigger stadium and a whole new generation of supporters coming on board.
Ive been following since 1970 and ive seen some good times at this club but nothing like this. And the thing that sets this apart? Fan engagement! We feel part of it in a way we never have before. Ask yourself a question, how many of the board would you have been able to name in 1978, 1981 or 2000? And now we know the 3 boys from the US by name, we revere Mark Ashton like a messiah and McKenna by more.
It's astonishing but the best thing about it is that progress on the pitch has been matched in every department off it.

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