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McKenna: Just Manage the Context of the Game Well
Friday, 23rd Feb 2024 16:17

Boss Kieran McKenna has reflected on his side’s performance in Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over bottom side Rotherham United at Portman Road.

Given the teams’ relative positions, Town were expected to sweep away the Millers but in the end had to rely on Omari Hutchinson smashing in a 95th-minute winner to claim all three points, despite having been 3-1 up at half-time.

“We watched the game back and I think there were lots of good things in the first half, to be honest, I think there were lots of good things probably in the first 60 minutes, I thought we were a real attacking threat,” McKenna said.

“Rotherham came man-to-man over the pitch with a really physical team and an experienced team and in that context the game, it's never going to be clean, the game's always going to be broken.

“When you have the ball, they're trying to get physical contact to make challenges straight away. When they have the ball, they're setting up every set play, so there's no flow to the game.

“And when the game's like that, a big thing you have to do that we speak about is you have to show your teeth, you have to show your threat on the top line, you have to show that if you keep jumping and you leave us a lot of space at the back, then we can go through and we can hurt you really quickly, and we can create chances and score goals.

“And we've done that in the first half, we've got three goals, we could have had four or five goals, really. 

“I thought at the start of the second half, we controlled the ball pretty well and again we weren't really under any threat.

“I think for the last 30 minutes, we didn't manage the game, we didn't manage the emotion, we didn't manage the tension and we didn't manage our direct threats well enough.

“So that's something that we've reviewed and looked back on and will hopefully do better in the same scenario in the future. 

“I think there were some good things to the game, certainly, but also some things to improve. I think a big thing for everyone really is to - and I said it before the game and I felt the same things watching it back - just manage the context of the game well.

“We’re now operating at the top end of the Championship, we're expected to win the game. Not so long ago, Rotherham were above us in the pyramid and they've probably got more experience in terms of Championship appearances possibly than us in the team, so it's not going to be an easy game.

“I go there knowing that, but that's still a different dynamic of a game and when you make an early mistake in the game, like we did, and there's tension on the pitch, there's tension in the stands, and the same when we make a mistake to go to 3-2, and then you've got 20 minutes or 30 minutes with a one-goal lead, there's going to be some tension there.

“But it's trying to control the bits of the performance as well as what we can, trying to enjoy the challenges, trying to enjoy each game, not get caught up in anything else, support the players on the pitch as well as we possibly can and stick together and keep trying to produce performances as good as we possibly can, but that's going to be staff, players, crowd, everyone, everyone pulling in and doing that together.”

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MK1 added 16:37 - Feb 23
Rotherham are fighting for safety and were always going to be a difficult side. Thought we had thrown it away, but loved the winning moment. Makes for a better matchday experience, if not for the heart. I will take 12 more of those until the end of the season though.

Edmundo added 18:46 - Feb 23
If we have 12 more of those, enjoy the Premier League, those who make it..! Seriously though, the last 5 minutes of that match could mean the difference between 2nd and 3rd... it will be so close right up to the end.

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