Liverpool legend John Barnes is delighted to see Ipswich Town back in the Premier League, praising the club and manager Kieran McKenna for securing automatic promotion from the Championship.

The former attacker, who started his career with a six-year stint at Watford, lifted eight trophies during his time at Anfield, including two league titles. He also spent time at Newcastle United and Charlton Athletic while earning 79 caps for England, scoring 10 goals.

Barnes, a member of the English Football Hall of Fame, has fond memories of watching Ipswich in their prime in the 1980’s, and he believes that Kieran McKenna has shown that teams can still be successful without big transfer budgets.

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

“They 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.

East Anglian Daily Times: Barnes believes that Kieran McKenna has been 'sensational' for the BluesBarnes believes that Kieran McKenna has been 'sensational' for the Blues (Image: Ross Halls)

“Good scouting allows you to pick up good players. Also, good coaching helps to improve the players that you already have.

“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 and Southampton.

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

Of course, the next step will be to challenge in the Premier League. Given that all three promoted sides from last season look set to come straight back down, it’ll certainly be easier said than done.

Barnes is well aware how difficult it’ll be for Ipswich, but he’s adamant that McKenna has been a 'sensational' appointment regardless of what happens next season.

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

“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.

“But whatever happens, McKenna has been sensational for Ipswich.”