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John Barnes: Kieran McKenna has done a fantastic job

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Ipswich are now in the Premier League having been led to two back to back promotions under Kieran McKenna. He has earned himself a glowing reputation having been at Spurs and Manchester United as a youth coach before working under the likes of Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a first team coach. We caught up with former England winger John Barnes to discuss the job McKenna has done at United and why he’s pleased to see Ipswich back in the Premier League.

Kieran McKenna was appointed as the manager of Ipswich Town in December 2021, in what was his first managerial role, having previously worked as a coach at Manchester United. What has since followed couldn’t have been foretold. Back to back promotions from League One to the Premier League is unprecedented. Especially when you consider that no club has recorded successive promotions to the Premier League in over a decade. Barnes shares his delight that Ipswich will be back amongst the big boys next season.

“It’s fantastic to see Ipswich back in the Premier League because it’s a fantastic football club. I remember when Sir Bobby Robson was there. They won the UEFA Cup.

“They’ve finished second in the league. They had a fantastic team with players such as Paul Mariner, Kevin Beattie, George Burley, John Wark. I’m glad to see Ipswich back in the Premier League and Kieran McKenna shows just like Brighton have in the Premier League that you don’t need to sign the very best players. Good scouting allows you to pick up good players. Also good coaching helps to improve the players that you already have.”

Having guided Ipswich to back-to-back promotions, his side have earned more than 90 points in each campaign including 96 points this season whilst scoring 193 goals in the process. Whilst fellow promotion rivals Leicester, Leeds and Southampton were benefiting from the Premier League’s parachute payments, Ipswich spent an estimated £4m.

“When you look at how much other Championship clubs spent this season, Ipswich rank 14th from what I’ve read. I believe they’ve only spent roughly £4m which is considerably less than their promotion rivals such as Leicester, Leeds, Southampton etc.

“A lot of clubs have tried to spend their way out of the Championship who haven’t been in the Premier League. So they end up overspending on players that were Premier League quality but may now be passed it. So you’re spending on players that don’t believe they should be at the club because they see themselves as superstars.”

Whilst the work that McKenna, his players and the club have done is admirable a bigger and more daunting task lays ahead. A task that they will be happy to face head on.

Premier League Profitability and Sustainability surely impact Ipswich and their spending habits this summer whilst the likes of Omari Hutchinson and Jeremy Sarmiento who are both loanees will be returning to their respective clubs. Ipswich face an all mighty battle to survive next season but if the last two seasons are anything to go by they will be looking to do more than just survive.

“The big task now will be making that translate to the Premier League and keeping Ipswich in the league.

“Coming from League One to the Premier League shows how a football club can be run. His challenge now will be keeping them up because McKenna has largely kept the same players who came from League One. McKenna has been sensational for Ipswich.”

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