Ipswich’s 22 Yr Premier League Wait Is Over

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Having had quite a few years that they would rather forget, Ipswich Town fans will be massively celebrating this weekend as the club have finally gained promotion back to the Premier League after a 22 year absence, and the appointment of relative unknown Kieran McKenna as manager has proven to be an inspired choice.

The 37 year old left his position as first team coach of Manchester United to take up the role in 2021, and at the point, Ipswich were sat in 12th place in the League One table. Since taking charge and stabilising them in that first year, he has now led them to back to back promotions, and with Saturday’s comfortable 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town, it confirmed their return to the top flight as Championship runners up, with Leicester City taking the title by a single point.

His success has not been a fluke, and given the praise and plaudits he was showered with when taking the job, he has gone on to prove that support was more than justified. The Portman Road outfit broke the 90 point mark in both of their promotion campaigns, and they have scored 193 in the process, with 92 coming in 2023/24 alone.

Having won 28 of the 46 League One games, former skipper Mick Mills claimed that with a 20% improvement to the team he was confident they could battle for the top six, and with a spend of just £4 million on new signings, McKenna even exceeded those expectations, and they battled for far more.

In fact, they have not been out of the top six for the entire campaign, and for the majority of the season they have been in the automatic promotion spots. Given Leicester City spent a reported £17.5 million on England internationals Harry Winks and Conor Coady, to have lost out on top spot by a single point is a testament to their team spirit and the work that McKenna has done on the training pitch.

McKenna’s name does not yet quite roll off the tongue as naturally as Sir Alf Ramset, George Burley, Mick McCarthy and let us not forget, Sir Bobby Robson, do, but he has a better win percentage so far than any of them, and boasts 57%. Few would expect him to maintain that in 2024/25, but consolidation and survival next season, will more than see his place in their history cemented.

Given McKenna’s success so far, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the challenges posed by the Premier League game, and then, just what next season can bring.

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