'Hopefully we can finish with a party on the beach!' - McKenna on fixture list
- Credit: ITFC/Matchday Images
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna says everyone's 'eyes should be wide open' as to the challenge that lays ahead.
The League One fixture list was revealed this morning, the Blues starting their 2022/23 campaign with a home game against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, July 30.
Various bookmakers have already installed Town as the early title favourites, despite recent third-tier finishes of 11th, 9th and 11th.
“Look, we want people to be really positive," said McKenna, who is preparing for his first full season in senior management.
"There are so many good things going on around the place and we have to ride the crest of that wave. We’re not looking to dampen anything. The ambitions are high and the group is really positive about the goals for the season.
“With so many players arriving last year, coming together and all getting to know the size of the club, I think there was a bit of learning in there in terms of the difficulty of the league. I think the dressing room now knows it’s going to be a tough season. The level at the top of the league is really high, while the teams at the bottom end of the league see it as their cup final when they play against Ipswich.
“We know it’s going to be about spirit and mentality and fight over 46 games. Players, staff and fans all together – that's what’s going to get us over the line. The history of the club, signing good players, having a nice kit - all that alone is not enough.
“As much as we’re really ambitious and positive, I think everyone now has their eyes wide open this year about what it’s going to take."
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Amidst Paul Cook's major summer rebuild, which continued right up until August transfer deadline day, the Blues failed to win any of their opening eight games in all competitions last year.
Now, with four summer signings already added to good core in time for the start of pre-season, the hope is that a much more settled Town can hit the ground running this time.
“It’s great to start with a home game," said McKenna. "Bolton are a big club and I think we owe them one after that home game against them last year (5-2 home loss). Obviously I wasn’t here then, but I don’t imagine our fans enjoyed that one too much.
“The first three home games are Bolton, MK (Dons) and Barnsley – really good fixtures. Hopefully we get off to a good start and lay down a marker for the season.
“Oxford at home on Boxing Day is another good one. I’m sure we’ll have a big crowd for that.
“Then Fleetwood away to finish, so hopefully we can all have a good party on the beach up there!"
Asked if he sets the team points targets for groups of games, McKenna replied: “Not massively. Last year the narrative for us was ‘average two points per game and you’ll be in the play-offs'. But in the end it needed 83 points to get in them.
“I think you can put a limit on what you’re trying to achieve if you set targets for points.
“For me we have to go for three points every game. We have to try and win every game."