What Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer said about Ipswich town boss Kieran McKenna

Blues manager Kieran McKenna says it’s nice to be mentioned positively by pundits, with former England strikers and Match of the Day regulars Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer naming the Northern Irishman as the best manager outside the Premier League earlier this week, but that kind of attention, positive or negative, doesn’t deflect his focus from the job at hand.

Lineker was asked on The Rest is Football podcast who he believes is the finest young manager outside of the Premier League who could make the step up to the top level.

“I’m going with Kieran McKenna from Ipswich Town,” he explained. “I think he did a fantastic job with them.”

“He’s young, he was a youth coach at Manchester United before moving on to Tottenham.” He’s got something, and they’re soaring high in the league.”

“I would agree with you there,” Shearer said. He’s doing a fantastic job, a very fantastic one.”

McKenna says he wasn’t aware of the comments until they were pointed out to him ahead of today’s press conference.

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna felt side suffered from slow start and bad  luck in loss to Lincoln City

“It’s not one that I’d seen until I saw [director of communications] Marcus [Nash]’s press notes,” he said.

“These things, of course, are nice. It’s better to be spoken about in good terms than in other terms. And as a manager, it can go both ways and it can change very quickly.

“So, for me, it doesn’t really change the focus. I’ve got a really big job to do here day to day, trying to improve these players and improve this team and keep on performing.

“I haven’t got too much time for my focus to drift anything away from that. So, of course, when the team’s doing well, there’s going to be praise. And when the team’s not doing well, there’ll be criticism. I think that’s the nature of the job.”

Do you actively try to block out comments positive or negative? “It’s not that hard, to be honest. We’re at the training ground 12 hours a day, sometimes 14 hours a day, two hours with my kids and an hour with my wife and a few hours’ sleep and that’s it. There isn’t too much time to get distracted by anything going on in the outside world.

“Your time is consumed between being here and having as much high quality time with your family as you can, and everything else in the outside world takes a back seat, especially when you’re in a period like this.”

Quizzed on whether there is anyone he has been particularly influenced by or has sought to emulate, McKenna added: “I’ve said before that you take influences from everyone that you come across. There’s not any one particular person that you copy off, or certainly I don’t because I think then it wouldn’t be as authentic to you and what you believe in.

“I think in my time as a player and coach at Tottenham, there were maybe nine managers plus that I’ve played under or was an academy coach when they were first-team coach.

“Some very good managers at Man United and some very good people. And I’d like to think I’m an avid watcher of football and the different methodologies and playing styles for the last 15 years, at least since I started my coaching journey.

“So there’s such a broad range of influences on you, but ultimately then, when you become a manager, it comes down to your beliefs and how you want your team to play, how you want to develop your culture and your training methodology.

“And I am pretty well-established with what I believe in, having had so many years as a coach previously and then you do what you believe in and try and keep your values. And it’s always good that you get a good response from the players to that.

“And I look to keep going in that way. And also look to keep improving. I think because certainly, as a manager still at a very young age, I’m learning every day.

“It’s not ever about standing still and patting yourself on the back for the work you’re doing at the moment. It’s for everyone here in the building, whether it’s myself or the staff or the players; it’s about getting better.

“And when people are praising you for what you’re doing now, we have to focus on the things that we can do better so we can be better tomorrow. That’s where the focus is.”

McKenna appears to have a very measured outlook on his development as a manager. Is that the case and has that been his outlook since he began his coaching journey when he was forced to retire as a player at 22, taking things in a very stepped manner?

“I think it’s your own personality type as well,” he reflected. “You have to stay true to your own personality type. But I’ve seen how precarious the job can be.

“There are so many ups and downs in football and things can change quickly, people’s perceptions can change quickly.

“I’ve always believed from the outset to just focus on the quality of your work and focus on getting better and being better every day, better training, better relationships with players, better communication, better leadership now and just focus on the process and doing the right things.

“And if you do that over the course of time, then the results of football matches or where your career takes you, that will look after itself in the end.

“My mindset from when I started out as a coach was just to be as good as I could be and keep time and improve every day, and I’m still the same today.

“We could have lost on Tuesday or Saturday and my perspective would have been different, but it wouldn’t have changed my perspective on how we trained and prepared for those games or how we worked towards it.”

“So I just focus on that, and I believe that if you do enough of the right things, it usually follows that you’ll get some good results.”



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