It will be his team. His vision. His decisions. And he will begin his campaign from the start this time, so there will be no room for excuses. I have the impression that manager Kieran McKenna is not the kind of boss who resorts to Borisesque deviations from the truth when things start to go a bit pear-shaped. He does not need telling that a good start is imperative if Town’s ambitions to get out of this league are to be realised, and, on paper at least, the fixture list has been relatively kind to him.
We begin against our old adversaries Bolton Wanderers, who did the double on us last time around. It was a horror show under former boss Paul Cook the last time we played them here, and although there were lots of goals, most of them went to the visitors, who defeated us 2-5, which, incidentally, was our biggest defeat of the season! Cook was the third Ipswich Town scouser to manage the Blues after Joe Royle and Paul Jewell, and although he recruited reasonably well and got all the dead-wood out of the building, it took a long time for the squad to gel, and this was his ultimate downfall.
We tend to overlook some of his best results – in between those indifferent ones, and I was there to witness the Town stuffing Doncaster Rovers 6-0 at Portman Road when Lee Evans got his hat-trick and Macauley Bonne waded in with two for himself. On our travels under Cook, we defeated Portsmouth 0-4 at their place and high-flying Wycombe Wanderers by a similar score line away. (1-4) We played good football at times but it was far too sporadic, and nobody knew which Ipswich side would show up on the day. Cook left very suddenly, but he had feared the worst, just as soon as the Town takeover became imminent. The absence of Leam Richardson did not help.
So this time, if anything goes wrong, the finger of blame will point toward Kieran McKenna. He knows that as soon as we go through a lean spell, questions will inevitably be asked. He also knows that nothing less than promotion will do. I genuinely wish him well, and I just hope that along with his coaching and tactical prowess, he can also manage those difficult times, when supporters become restless and players resentful. It will happen. It always does. The only question is, when, and how well will our new boss cope with it? if he can retain his measured approach to external and internal scrutiny, then I feel sure he can succeed. Next season is likely to define him, and I believe he can rise to this challenge with supreme distinction.