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Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna feels ‘outstanding’ Sheffield Wednesday performance was ‘one of the best’ he’s overseen at Portman Road

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna hailed his side’s ‘outstanding performance’ as one of the best since he’s been at the club as the Blues thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 6-0 at Portman Road to return to second in the Sky Bet Championship.

The Blues ran riot against the second-bottom Owls to climb two points above Leeds United, who host Millwall in their weekend game on Sunday, and one behind leaders Leicester, who are in FA Cup action at Chelsea, also on Sunday.

“I thought it was an outstanding performance, I have to say, from pretty much the first minute until the last minute,” McKenna said.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna was delighted with the performance of his side against Sheffield Wednesday Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna was delighted with the performance of his side against Sheffield Wednesday Picture: Barry Goodwin

“In all phases of the game we showed our identity, our style, our culture in the group. I thought it was an outstanding performance.

“What did I enjoy most? Probably the relentlessness of it, to be fair. I think some of the football was outstanding, our pressing against a well set up team was outstanding.

“But probably the way we kept going because at 3-0 sometimes the second half can be flat or the game can fizzle out.

“But we came into today with a real determination to deliver a performance first and foremost, not deliver a scoreline, the points or anything like that, just to finish off the block of games with a performance at home which represented our identity.

“And the players really took that on at half-time, the mindset was pretty much the same; to go out and try and just keep performing, forget the scoreline, perform as well as we can for the 90-plus minutes.

“I think the mentality to keep going in the way that we did right to the end was really, really good.”

Asked whether it was one of the top displays in his time at the club, McKenna said: “Yes, it was one of our best. You can never exactly compare what was the best, but it was definitely one of the best.

“It was one of our best this season and one of the best in the last two-and-a-bit years since I’ve been here.”

Omari Hutchinson was widely regarded as the man of the match having scored two and assisted one.

“Omari was excellent, continued the trajectory and the growth in his performances that he has made right through the season and anyone who has seen him over the season can see the big steps forward that he’s made,” enthused McKenna.

“Of course, he played in a slightly different role today than he’s played most of his minutes in, not the first time he’s played there, but one of the first times he’s started in there and there’s still lots for him to learn in that position from a tactical point of view and even from a technical and a mental point of view as well.

“I thought he really showed his qualities for that position, he showed his one-v-one, his dynamism in there, his contribution to the team strategy out of possession, his pressing, his recovering, his blocking of the middle was fantastic and it was a really good performance.

“Still, and I’m not just saying it as a token gesture, areas to improve. Omari will be the first one probably to be able tell you all the things that he didn’t do well in the game, but I’m sure he’ll be itching to get back on the training ground next week to keep getting better.”

Asked whether he was surprised Wednesday sought to go toe-to-toe against his side, McKenna said: “We saw from the teamsheet that they tried to take an aggressive approach. When the team came in, it wasn’t a surprise, we thought it might be a possibility.

“Of course, they spoke about the fact that they think we finish games stronger than we start and we feel that we start a lot of home games really well.

“They clearly tried to be really aggressive at the start of the game and they’ve tried to be aggressive in all their games.

“Today, I thought we were the better team. I still feel that they’ve made some good improvements and have been performing really well, but I think today was more about the quality of the Ipswich performance, to be honest, and I think lots of teams would have found it very, very difficult to play against us today.”

Is the scoreline a statement to the rest of the division? “Honestly, I don’t care, to be fair. We don’t think about any of the other teams. I think it’s a good statement to ourselves, first and foremost.

“We’re coming out of a really busy run of games, a busy period, this is the first Saturday game in a long time and I’m not sure when the last was that we’ve had a week’s training to prepare for a Saturday game at home.

“We’ve had some tough away trips and we really wanted to go into the international break with a performance to be proud of, that represented ourselves well and I think we did that today, and that’s the best message that we can send to ourselves and send to our supporters as well.”

As well as the fans, there were also numerous Town stars of the past at the game following last night’s Former Players Association’s Hall of Fame Reunion Dinner in which James Scowcroft and Fabian Wilnis were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“That’s nice,” McKenna reflected. “I enjoyed getting to go to the ex-players’ dinner for a little while last night and getting to meet some of them who I’ve met and spoken to a lot over the last couple of years and some, like Fabian Wilnis, who was inducted [into the Hall of Fame] I spoke to and met for the first time.

“I think that’s great. I think the work and the link with the ex-players here is fantastic, it’s really I think pretty unique.

“I don’t think there’s many clubs doing it as strongly and as well as Ipswich are and it’s great for those different generations, so many of them to be in the stadium today and see this team, this group of players, what they’re doing, see the stadium with the atmosphere that it had today. I think that’s something for everyone at the football club to be proud of.”

Meanwhike, McKenna said Wes Burns’s hamstring injury, suffered in the first half, doesn’t look like a minor problem, while revealing that Conor Chaplin has a strain to his side/back.

The player who was meant to be linking up with Wales limped down the tunnel in the 38th minute having won the corner which led to Town’s second goal, while Chaplin was absent from the 20-man squad for the first time in the league this season.

“It doesn’t look great, it’s a hamstring,” McKenna said of Burns. “It doesn’t look like a minor one, I don’t think it feels like a minor one.

“Of course, we’ll scan it over the next few days and assess it, but that’s the undoubted low point of today.

“Everyone’s gutted for Wes down in the dressing room and we just have our fingers crossed that the severity isn’t as bad as it possibly could be.”

Regarding Chaplin, he added: “Conor has a strain in his side/back, so he picked that up very early in the training week, so he wasn’t available for today, so we’ll have to see how he recovers from it.”