Holland: There are some big plans... this club is going places
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town legend Matt Holland says he's got a feeling this coming season is going to be a successful one for the club.
The former Blues skipper is a trustee of the club's Community Trust - which has now been rebranded the 'Ipswich Town Foundation' - and has spent plenty of time with chief executive Mark Ashton and manager Kieran McKenna over recent months.
“Honestly, I have been incredibly impressed by them both," enthused the former Republic of Ireland international.
"Mark’s energy, his work ethic is something else. I don’t think I have come across someone who is as much into it as he is. I say to him ‘take a breather’ sometimes because he is 24/7. He’s at it all the time. He doesn’t leave any stone unturned and will push until he gets what he’s after for this club. That’s exciting.
“I’ve had the pleasure of watching Kieran coach on a few occasions now. He’s calm, methodical, really top class. You can see his attention to detail and his relationship with the players.
“He’s the type of manager I would have loved to have played for. I like his manner and his playing style. He wants to play out from the back and through midfield.
“When he first arrived the emphasis was on defence and that improved straight away. Putting the ball in the back of the net more regularly is now something he’s got to rectify. Freddie Ladapo has signed, he is obviously someone who has scored goals at this level, and I'm sure others will come in.
“It’s great to see that Kieran's bought a house in the town centre and is fully invested in the club.
“The pair of them (Ashton and McKenna) look like they’ve got a really good partnership going on."
Town have finished 11th, ninth and 11th since dropping into League One. Despite this, they have already been installed as the bookies' early favourites to win the third-tier title in 2022/23.
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“I don’t want to sit here and say ‘we’re definitely going to get promoted or win the league’, but I’m positive and excited about where we are at," said Holland.
“I went to more games last season than I have done in a long while because I was excited by the numbers of supporters turning up and the atmosphere at Portman Road.
“My feeling is this will be a really good season.
"I really hope this is the season we are promoted. I don't care how it happens, whether it's automatically or the play-offs, I just want to see us back in the Championship as soon as possible. I want to see us go further than that.
“I think this club is going places. I think we’re in a position now where we are ready to go forwards. The building blocks are in place.
Discussing his ongoing role with the Foundation, he said: “It was a privilege and pleasure to be asked to go on the board of trustees last summer and we have had a number of positive meetings since then.
“Under the new owners, and led by Mark Ashton, it’s clear that community is at the very forefront of the club’s plans.
“I can't say too much, but there are some big plans ahead.
“We all want to get this club to where it should be. We are a Premier League club in all but name really. So we have to make sure that the community stuff is of a Premier League standard.
“It’s got to be about reaching all of the people of Suffolk, not just Ipswich. It can’t just be about football, we want to make a difference through wide-ranging initiatives around things like dementia, health, social inclusion.
"We want that next generation of children in Suffolk to be Ipswich Town supporters. On a recent community visit, Mark Ashton asked the kids at Claydon Primary School how many of them are Ipswich fans and quite a few put their hands up. I’d love it if, further down the line, all of them out their hands up.
"As a player I understood the importance of the club's role in the community and it's great to see the club have got another first team player who feels the same in Conor Chaplin (also a Foundation trustee). He's been brilliant and is really invested in what the club is trying to do off the pitch, as well as on it."
Holland added: "A lot of work has been going on trying to build this club up from the bottom again. The building blocks and foundations are being out in place now that will enable the club, hopefully, to improve and thrive."