Predictions for McKenna's first five games in charge
- Credit: Daniel Hambury/Focus Images Ltd
Kieran McKenna's reign as Ipswich Town manager begins at Portman Road tonight. STUART WATSON looks ahead to the Blues boss' first five games at the helm.
When: Tonight (7.45pm)
Where: Portman Road
Current position: 4th
Current form: DWDWW
Gareth Ainsworth's men had a little bit of a wobble after their 4-1 defeat at the hands of Town back on November 2.
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The Chairboys went out of the FA Cup following a replay defeat to League Two side Hartlepool and exited the Papa John's Trophy by virtue of a 5-0 home thrashing by Burton. There was also a home loss to Portsmouth in the league.
They will, however, arrive in Suffolk on the back of a five-game unbeaten run which includes wins against Bolton, Plymouth and Burton, plus draws against Sheffield Wednesday and AFC Wimbledon.
"We were ready to go against Cambridge and we wanted to play," said Ainsworth, referring to the fact his side's Boxing Day home clash was postponed. "We're in a good place, we've got momentum behind us."
We know what Wycombe are all about - they're direct and physical. This will be a world away from the style and level of games McKenna has been overseeing at Old Trafford over recent years.
Ipswich, meanwhile, could have a surprise factor about them under new management. They'll also have a crowd of more than 25,000 behind them too.
When: Sat, Jan 1 (3pm)
Where: Portman Road
Current position: 19th
Current form: DLLDL
Lincoln was the joyous scene of Ipswich's long-awaited first victory of the campaign back on September 18.
The Imps don't look the same force as they were when finishing fifth in 2020/21.
Michael Appleton's men have won just one of their last eight matches - and that was 1-0 against non-league Bowers & Pitsea in the FA Cup.
Over recent weeks they've drawn against struggling Shrewsbury, Doncaster and Crewe to slip within five points of the drop zone. Last time out, at Cheltenham, they were conceded a 95th minute equaliser at Cheltenham.
"When you are on these types of runs, these things happen, but there was a lot to be admired from the players," said Appleton. "“Hopefully this is the start of a better run."
They lost 3-2 at home to MK Dons on Boxing Day and had to postpone tonight's clash with Rotherham due to Covid.
Prediction: 2-1 Ipswich
When: Sat, Jan 8 (3pm)
Current position: 22nd
Current form: LLLLL
This game was due to take place on Boxing Day, but Gillingham called off because of Covid in the camp. It was hastily re-arranged for the weekend left spare by virtue of the fact AFC Wimbledon have progressed to the third round of the FA Cup.
Steve Evans' men are in a real slump right now. They have won just one of their last 16 (1-0 at home to Doncaster) and lost the last six in succession.
"Everyone knows we are far from right at the minute," said the Gills boss.
“I think the reality for some of them is that they will probably leave in January, they will be made available because they have proven not to be good enough for the level we are trying to aspire to play at.
“We have never been in this type of run as a management team but we are only as good as the troops who play for you.”
The Kent club's next two games are both away - at Charlton and MK Dons.
Prediction: 2-0 Ipswich
When: Sat, Jan 15 (3pm)
Where: University of Bolton Stadium
Current position: 15th
Town will be out to avenge the 5-2 home thrashing suffered at the hands of the Trotters back in September. Bolton have only won four more league games since then - and three of them were against sides currently in the bottom five.
This will be Bolton's first game in front of their home fans in 45 days. They lost at Fleetwood and Accrington earlier this month, saw their Boxing Day home game against Morecambe postponed and are now set to travel to Burton, Rotherham (both league) and Hartlepool (Papa John's Trophy).
Ian Evatt has admitted interest in Accrington striker Dion Charles ahead of the January transfer window.
When: Sat, Jan 22 (3pm)
Where: Portman Road
Current position: 10th
Current form: WLWDW
The Lancashire club continue to punch above their weight in League One.
John Coleman's men are another robust outfit and Ipswich will need to play much better than they did back in October when limply losing 2-1 at the Wham Stadium.
Stanley players may well remember Town skipper Sam Morsy labelling them a 'horrible, disgusting team'.
Speaking after his team's recent 1-0 home win against Bolton, Coleman said: “When you’ve conceded as many as we have the clean sheet is the holy grail.
“Teams were scoring an average of four a game against us before today, so it’s massive for us."
Only three teams have conceded more in the league so far this season.
Prediction: 4-2 Ipswich