New Town boss McKenna reveals ‘positive, aggressive, balanced and adaptable’ football philosophy

Kieran McKenna, pictured alongside Ipswich Town CEO Mark Ashton at his first press conference

Kieran McKenna, pictured alongside Ipswich Town CEO Mark Ashton at his first press conference - Credit: Zoom

New Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna has outlined his playing philosophy as he begins his reign at Portman Road. 

But the Northern Irishman has insisted it’s style and principles, rather than formations, which will shape his approach to moving Town up the League One table. 

McKenna began work in Suffolk this morning and will take training for the first time tomorrow morning, with the 35-year-old keen to impart his ‘positive, aggressive and balanced’ approach from day one. 

“I have a really clear idea in my head but I won’t talk in too much detail about formations now because we’re playing Gillingham on Boxing Day and don’t want to give too much away,” McKenna said, when asked about his playing style at his opening press conference. 

“But I do have a clear idea on how I want to the game to be played. 

“I want us to be positive, to dominate games and play in the opposition’s half. I want us to attack in a clearly-structured but both balanced and aggressive way to create chances and score goals. 

“Without the ball I want to be aggressive and win the ball as high up the pitch as we possibly can. 

“I would like to think I’m adaptable enough to adapt where appropriate, to the league and to the players, but I do have a clear idea of how I want the team to play. 

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“We won’t get there overnight but I will be looking to implement some principles and things right from the off. 

“With more time to work with the players and time with the club to bring in players who fit the profile I want, I’m sure we can put a team on the pitch that the Ipswich fans can really get behind.” 

Discussing formations further, the former Manchester United coach said: “In terms of formation, at this stage of the season, it’s about being versatile to the strengths of the players and doing what they are comfortable with and what will suit the squad. 

“I’m a big believer in style and principles being more important than formations and within any formation it can look different whether you’re in or out of possession or whether it’s the first or third phase of the game. 

“I don’t speak to players a lot about 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 and think it’s about them understanding their roles and responsibilities on the pitch, as well as the spaces we want to attack and where to defend. 

“The principles and style we work to are the over-riding thing and then, within that, the formation can be adapted to our players and what suits them, as well as how we want to hurt the opposition.”