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foormusique.biz: Ipswich Town Boss Kieran McKenna not plotting Premier League bid yet

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Kieran McKenna was hoisted aloft by his players after sealing promotion against Exeter

Boss Kieran McKenna says plotting a bid for Premier League promotion is not on his agenda yet, despite guiding Ipswich back to the Championship.

The Tractor Boys blitzed Exeter 6-0 on Saturday to end their four-season stay in League One, having previously spent 62 straight years in the top two tiers.

“The club is very ambitious, I am and I’m sure the players are too,” said the former Manchester United coach.

“We’ve put everything into this season, so we’ve not thought too far ahead.”

McKenna told BBC Radio Suffolk: “Of course we’ve invested in terms of infrastructure and tried to do things which will help us in the long term, but in terms of on the pitch stuff, we haven’t looked beyond this season because it’s been such an intense and challenging one.

“We’ll enjoy this and celebrate well, [then] in the summer we’ll be looking at every which way we can improve the club to keep building on this momentum that we’ve got.”

Ipswich raced into a 5-0 lead inside 32 minutes against Exeter and McKenna said his squad were inspired by the raucous welcome their team coach received from thousands of fans when it arrived at Portman Road 90 minutes before kick-off.

He said: “The scenes before the game were a massive part of the day and a sign of the spirit and the love of the club in the community.

“It was amazing, way beyond what we were expecting.

“I’ve seen a few of those sort of things, at big Premier League grounds and European games, but I’ve not seen many like that, not just the numbers but the passion on their faces. It was a really special moment.”

Conor Chaplin (left) and Sam Morsy celebrate promotion to the Championship

Conor Chaplin, who opened the scoring and added his 29th goal of the campaign to make it 5-0, added: “The entrance was extra fuel for sure.

“It was incredible, flares, smoke bombs, the amount of fans – we are so grateful for the support.”

Chaplin, who was voted supporters’ player of the year, received his trophy after the game.

He believes “there’s room for one more” as Town prepare to travel to Fleetwood for their final game, needing to better the result of leaders Plymouth – who are at Port Vale – next Sunday to snatch the League One title.

“We need to keep going,” he told BBC Radio Suffolk. “We always want more, this squad and coaching staff, we are never satisfied. We want 100 points and 100 goals and we’ll see where it gets us.

“Saturday was probably the best day at Portman Road for a long time. I am so glad, so relieved to be part of an incredible day.

“I have worked so hard for so many years. It means everything to bring success to this club. I said as soon as I signed [in August 2021] that’s what I wanted to do. I am just so thankful I have been able to do that.

“It’s certainly one of my best days in the game. I am so glad we could make them happy, give them a day to remember and hopefully a night celebrating to remember too.”

‘Clear goal to get back to top’

McKenna was so focused on the process rather than the end result that he did not even bring a change of clothes in case of any champagne-filled post-match celebrations.

The 36-year-old, who saw a promising playing career ended by a hip injury aged just 22, admitted to being emotional after the final whistle.

“It means an awful lot to me,” he added. “It’s been an honour to come here as manager.

“You work very hard in your coaching career to get to positions like this.

“Promotion is nice but for me it’s how we’ve done it, the level of performance, the consistency, the style of play – plenty of people told me we wouldn’t be able to do it in League One. Doing it makes me very proud.”

Ipswich Town fans celebrate promotion to the Championship with a “fantastic atmosphere”

Club legend John Wark – who helped Town to the Premier League in his playing days – said the feel-good factor is back at Ipswich, adding: “It’s been too long.”

McKenna added: “It’s exciting. Promotion is going to give everyone a big boost. This is a club with a fine heritage at the top of English football. It’s been a clear goal to get it back there.

“This wasn’t beyond our expectations – it was our target. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy – we’ve finished 11th twice and ninth.

“It’s been a very difficult task but we need to keep setting the bar really high. We want to climb back up that pyramid.

“Next season will be a big challenge again but one we’re all going to throw ourselves into.

“This was a day the people of Suffolk will always remember. We have to cherish it but there’s no doubt we are going to be looking to create some more good memories in the future.”