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Could Ipswich Town Get SUCCESSIVE Promotions?

3 minute read Published November 20, 2023

Since the beginning of the Premier League era only four teams have been able to get successive promotions from the third to the first tier. Watford, Manchester City, Norwich City and Sheffield United. But maybe we’re about to get a fifth team in that list. Ipswich Town.

Since former Manchester United first team coach Kieran McKenna was appointed manager at the Suffolk club in 2021, they’ve been flying. Since then, no team in the English top four tiers have taken as many points as Ipswich town.

In the Championship this season, the newly promoted team has only lost one game, drawing three and winning twelve. After 16 games played they’re second on goal difference behind favourites Leicester City. The two teams have already gotten an eight point cushion down to Leeds United in third. So how have they achieved this?


Ipswich Town are a very attacking team. Since McKenna’s appointment only Manchester City have scored more goals in the top three tiers. This year they’ve scored 36 goals in the Championship, more than any other team. And while they’re still an attacking team, they’re getting goals in different ways.

In League 1, McKenna played possession based football, where they slowly progressed the ball down the field. Ipswich Town had the highest possession in the league on average. What they excelled at was drawing the opposition out of position deep into their own half to give themselves an opportunity for a fast attack. The fast attacks may not be too surprising when considering who was manager at Manchester United when McKenna was there - Jose Mourinho.

This season they’ve kept the fast attacks but have moved on slightly from their possession based football. On average they have the eighth highest possession in the league at 52%. Compared to around 60% from when McKenna took the reins in League 1 last season. This says a lot about the kind of coach McKenna is. Adaptable.

Seeing as the quality of the teams in the Championship is higher, the strategy that worked so well for them last season wouldn’t work as well. Changing from a possession based style to a fast, counter attacking style of football is a big shift.


But, they’ve had a summer of transfers to assist in this transition? Yes, but the core of the team is the same. Ipswich Town has one of the most consistent squads in the English league system. The same players that made up the core of this team last season are still the players that McKenna rely on in the Championship.

Out of the squad that started in the Championship last game, nine were at the club and started regularly in League 1 last season. Additionally, out of the eleven players that have been given the most minutes this season, all were at the club last season.

Granted, George Hirst only joined permanently from Leicester this summer, he was on loan last season. Omari Hutchinson and Brandon Williams are the twelfth and 13th on the list of players with the most minutes, both on loan from Chelsea and Manchester United, respectively.

In fact, since McKenna took charge, only Arsenal have used fewer players. That’s pretty impressive considering Ipswich Town got promoted and reasonably could upgrade their squad.

Now, to be fair, Ipswich Town did have a takeover by an American investment consortium in 2021 and, while they’re no Todd Boehlys, they did invest a lot for a League 1 club. 

Concluding Thoughts

The team that McKenna has put together has adapted very well to the higher quality of football in the Championship and the winning ways of their 22/23 League 1 campaign continues. Transitioning from a possession based style with fast attacks to a more counter attacking style has worked well for them tactically.

They have increased depth but McKenna likes to use the same players pretty much every game and this might prove to be a problem if a player gets injured and has to be replaced with someone that hasn’t had the chance to get comfortable with the style of play.

Another risk it that with McKenna's successes, a Premier League team changing manager might be tempted to go for McKenna.

What they’ve managed to do is incredible and hopefully the success keeps going and they manage to become only the fifth team since the Premier League era to secure successive promotions.


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