McKenna wants 'positive and aggressive' Town at Forest Green

Kieran McKenna on the opening day of the season at Portman Road

Kieran McKenna takes his Ipswich side to Forest Green this weekend - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Kieran McKenna is hoping for an open game at Forest Green, where he expects his side to be ‘positive and aggressive’ against the newly-promoted side. 

Tomorrow's match is the two teams’ first ever meeting, pitching the 1981 UEFA Cup winners against a club who, at that time, were playing in the ninth-tier of English football. 

Rovers have risen dramatically, though, winning League Two with Rob Edwards at the helm last season, with Ian Burchnall maintaining the club’s footballing principles after taking charge following the former’s move to Watford. 

McKenna is expecting a tough test but wants to see his side get on top of their opponents and come away with three points. 

“I wouldn’t mind one,” McKenna said, when asked if he would like to see an open game at the New Lawn. 

“They are a positive and brave team who look to impose themselves on the game. They did that against Bristol Rovers (2-1 win on opening day) and in the pre-season games I’ve watched, like against Bristol City and other teams from higher leagues. 

“They are positive and I don’t think they will be looking to take a backwards step in their style of play. They’ll be looking to play their game and we will always try and do that, too. 

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“Hopefully it’s a game where the ball is in play a lot, which is big in this league. Hopefully it’s an entertaining game for our away fans. 

“But beyond all of that it’s about us and our performance, going there in a positive and aggressive manner to get three points.” 

McKenna and Burchnall had a similar beginning to their coaching journeys as they worked in the British Universities system; the Town boss at Loughborough and Burchnall at Leeds. 

They’ve taken different paths to League One, with McKenna working his way up to become assistant manager at Manchester United and Burchnall managing in Norway, Sweden and then at Notts County. 

But this weekend the two managers, and their clubs, meet as equals. 

"We were on similar trajectories at that time in our careers,” McKenna said. 

“He’s gone a different route and has picked up good experience, while managing abroad, so he deserves his opportunity in League One. 

“Forest Green have done fantastically as a football club, building the infrastructure there as well as the team on the pitch. 

“They have a really well ingrained style of play, which hasn’t changed too much from last season. I saw quite a bit of them then and I thought they were impressive, with a really attractive style of play. They impose themselves on the ball and play through the pitch. 

“They have lost some key individuals in terms of the management side of things and in the squad but they’ve kept a good sense of continuity despite that. 

“Ian has picked up the baton from last season and they’ve recruited well. They deserved their victory against Bristol Rovers and we know they are a team to respect.”