'It's so different' - Penney on McKenna's 'exciting' impact at Town

Matt Penney celebrates scoring early at Cheltenham Town.

Matt Penney says he and his Ipswich Town team-mates are 'thriving' under new boss Kieran McKenna - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town defender Matt Penney says he and his team-mates are 'thriving' under new boss Kieran McKenna - and he's making them 'better players and people'.

Town's new manager has presided over two impressive wins in his first two games, seeing off high-flying Wycombe at home before putting struggling Gillingham to the sword on the road last time out.

It's a marked improvement from the increasingly poor displays towards the end of Paul Cook's tenure, with Penney saying that McKenna - assistant coach at Manchester United for the last three and a half years - has to take a lot of the credit.

"I think a lot (is down to him)," he said. "A lot has changed - tactics, formations, roles - so I think a lot of it has come through the new manager.

Kieran McKenna on the touchline at Gillingham.

Kieran McKenna on the touchline at Gillingham. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

"I think the boys like the new system and the way he wants us to play, we've all taken it on board, and thankfully we've seen the reward from that.

"Training's great. It's sharp, intense and there's a real detail to everything we do. The standards are really high and the boys are thriving off it.

"It's so different to what we've been used to, but like I say, it's been great.

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"The boys are really enjoying it. There's a great atmosphere at the training ground and at the stadium now, so it's just about kicking on.

"Thankfully it's showing on the pitch at the weekend."

McKenna comes with a reputation as something of a teacher - the 35-year-old can often be seen in discussions with individual players as he explains their role or what he wants from them.

And Penney says working with - and learning from - a coach of his pedigree, who's rubbed shoulders with and trained some of the world's best players, can only help Town's squad.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna pictured with goalscorer James Norwood after the game.

Penney says he and the rest of the team are learning a lot from McKenna - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

"When you see a manager come in like that, with the pedigree and players he's worked with, it's only exciting for us players," he enthused.

"Just picking his brains - him and his staff - every day is great for me and the boys. It's only going to make us better players - and people.

"I've spoken to his assistant Martyn (Pert) about a few of the boys at United and how things are run there, bits and bobs like that.

"I've started digging into it and finding out about how the top players go about their business and what I can take from their games to improve myself.

"It's been really good."

On the pitch, Penney's been impressing as a left wing-back in the 3-4-3 system McKenna's employed so far, with both he and his fellow players embracing the challenges and opportunities that the new manager has brought.

"When a new manager comes in it's a fresh start for everybody, a new opportunity," he explained.

"The boys are enjoying it at the minute - the style of play, the manager's philosophy - and the performances are getting better and better.

"I think this is just the beginning. There's a lot more to come."

Matt Penney plays the ball forward

Matt Penney says he's enjoying the wing-back role under McKenna - Credit: Ray Lawrence

Of his own play, he added: "Yeah, like I say it's a fresh opportunity and I just wanted to show everybody - especially the manager - what I can do.

"I just want to keep building now, keep this momentum going and keep playing.

"As long as I'm on the pitch, I'll give it my all.

"I do enjoy the wing-back role, I think it suits me a bit more - but wherever the gaffer needs to play me, I'm more than happy to do so.

"If I can help out with an assist or a goal - that's my main target, to get a few more of them.

"Keep the back door shut with the clean sheets and get forward as much as possible."

Conor Chaplin, Cameron Burgess and Rekeem Harper after Bolton Wanderers had scored their fifth.

The 5-2 home defeat to Bolton was one of the season's lowest points - Town can avenge that this Saturday - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Next up is an opportunity for McKenna to make history as the first Town boss to start his reign with three straight wins - and for the Blues to gain a measure of revenge for that 5-2 home humbling inflicted on them by Bolton earlier this season.

"The most important game in football is your next game," Penney stressed.

"Hopefully we can build on these performances and kick on for the rest of the season.

"If we can get a few more wins on the board in these next games, it will put us right up there.

"Bolton is a big game. (The 5-2 defeat) wasn't great.

"We want to right the wrongs from that and go out there give a good account of ourselves."

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