'He's very, very ambitious' - Morsy on 'exciting' McKenna and play-off race
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller - stephenw
Ipswich Town skipper Sam Morsy has revealed the scale of new boss Kieran McKenna's burning ambition for the club - and the excitement among his players about the project at Portman Road.
McKenna's taken 19 of a possible 27 points from his first nine games in the Town hotseat - six wins, a draw and two defeats - and has overseen the Blues' rise to within five points of the play-off spots, a target which once seemed fanciful.
And influential captain Morsy, just back from a controversial four-game ban, stressed that his new boss is not just improving individuals, he's lifting the whole club.
He explained: "I see it every day in training, in the games, in the results - we seem to be finding different ways to win games, which is really important.
"I just think gradually we're improving and getting better. The players have to continue to buy in to what he wants - and they are - because when you hear him speak, he's very, very ambitious.
"It's one of those moments really where as players if you don't get on board you'll get left behind.
"Whether that's the captain, the best player, worst player, whatever it is, there's an opportunity to be part of it - and if anyone doesn't want to buy in they're going to be left behind.
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"I think he sees this as a real, real project. You look at the crowds and the away support, the home support - it's absolutely terrific, and I think the fans are starting to see a team they like now.
"We're still some way away, but if we keep getting better and winning games, we'll close that gap."
Morsy added: "It's an exciting project, exciting manager, the staff are really good and the players are working really hard.
"We're improving weekly and this pays off."
Much has been made of McKenna's cerebral approach to the game, and his ability to improve players through his coaching, with Morsy admitting that he and his team-mates are relishing the new man's philosophy.
"I'm really enjoying it," he said. "I feel like I'm definitely improving and learning.
"As a player, one thing everyone shares - and in life really - is where you feel like you're progressing and you can see a path to improving.
"That's a very big motivator and focus, and I'm really enjoying it.
"I get on really well with him personally, he's helping me with my game - and obviously the team is doing really well.
"I think I'm lucky in that mentality is still that of a young player.
"I see lots of areas that I can improve and I'm keen to do that - and he's been at the best, with the best, so he's a perfect person for that.
"He knows I want to improve as well. Once you've got that combination it's a lot easier, as oppose to someone who maybe is just happy with where they're at or what they've done.
"I definitely see improvement in myself, and I think I can keep getting better."
He continued: "Tactically we talk regularly. We do a lot of things in training and have a lot of conversations about how I can get better and things he sees.
"It's really interesting and good to be a part of. You probably don't want someone coming in and saying 'right, just keep doing exactly what you're doing', so it's been good."
Asked if McKenna has told him to get forward more, Morsy explained: "He wants me more advanced to affect the game more - not too dissimilar to how I was last season under Neil Warnock.
"He wants me to do different things and look at different patterns and affect the game in different places.
"It's all very interesting, and very impactful - I'm just trying to take it all on board and do what he wants."
As the captain, it's Morsy's job to be the general on the pitch, turning McKenna's touchline orders into action on the grass.
And the 30-year-old said that he and Town's new leader are working well together in the heat of battle.
"The relationship (between manager and captain) is massively important," he explained.
"I've been lucky in that I've had a good relationship with all my managers - I had a really good relationship with Paul Cook for a number of years, same with Neil Warnock.
"You have to be the link between the players and the manager, but he's very clear in what he wants - then I have to try and see things through his eyes on the pitch.
"It's always an educational one, an informative one, where I try to get across some of the messages that he wants to the team."
With 14 games left, the Blues are in with a shot of being that team who crash the play-off party late, laden with momentum.
They now have two consecutive home games - Burton on Saturday and Cheltenham on Tuesday night - in which to add more weight to their Suffolk snowball as it hurtles towards the top six.
And Morsy is resolute in his belief that the new-look Blues can indeed be involved in the end-of-season play-off deciders.
"Its great to be a part of," he said of the chase for the top six. "It wasn't so long ago that everyone had written our season off.
"It's still on a knife edge. We're still not in the mixer yet, but if we keep consistent and keep getting results, we will close the gap.
"It's a really big week for us, two home games, the home form has been really, really good for a number of months now - so it's a case of just keep going and see where it takes you,
"Keep getting wins, keep slowly chasing people and keep putting the pressure on."
He added: "It absolutely can happen. When we were 12 points off, I said 'the season isn't dead yet' and it's not.
"Just because of the sheer amount of games left - we obviously have to win a lot of games, there's no doubt about that, but Saturday we're back at Portman Road and if we win it will feel like another big win."