Six things Ipswich need to do to stay in the Premier League (2024)

After more than two decades, Ipswich Town are back in the Premier League, confirming their promotion with a 2-0 win over Huddersfield. But what do they need to target to extend their stay in the top flight beyond next season?

Keep McKenna

Kieran McKenna has underlined his loyalty to Ipswich after back-to-back promotions, although that is unlikely to stop bigger clubs circling given his achievements in the last two-and-a-half years.

Crystal Palace looked at him before landing Oliver Glasner, while his style of football and the data-driven side of coaching is suited to Brighton, should there be a change of manager. It would be easy to see McKenna’s name discussed in the boardrooms of the clubs at the top of the Premier League.

“That sort of speculation has been around for the last two years, to be honest,” said McKenna. “I’ve shown loyalty to the club through that and I’m really pleased I’ve stuck with it and achieved what we have.

“And there’s still some big, exciting stuff to come for the football club. I’m enjoying the job and focused on this journey so much.”

Loan players

McKenna is set to ask for his loan players to stay at Portman Road after they helped them reach the top flight. Chelsea midfielder Omari Hutchinson has been a standout success in the Championship and looks ready for the Premier League. He has a season left on his deal at Stamford Bridge so a decision will be made on his long-term future this summer.

Kieffer Moore, on loan from Bournemouth, suits the way McKenna plays, while Jeremy Sarmiento from Brighton is an exciting prospect.

There are hopes that some could become permanent deals in the same way George Hirst turned his loan from Leicester City into a transfer last summer.

“For sure, it is a special group and [we] had success with that last year keeping the group together and bringing in someone like George after he was on loan and the way he escalated,” said McKenna. “We’ll look at all possibilities to build the squad as strong as we can. The players on loan this season have been an absolute credit to themselves and a really big part of the group.”

Shrewd transfers

McKenna has kept largely the same squad together from League One to the Premier League and it will be a huge step up for some of the players. Sweeping changes to a squad rarely leads to success, while not investing in the right players and letting others go was disastrous for Sheffield United a year ago.

Finding one or two players with Premier League experience will be important in a competitive market for those going up from the Championship.


Ipswich players talk about the demands of McKenna in their training, with the foundations of their success built on the training pitches. They will look to match their Premier League opponents for work-rate and then allow their creative players to seize their chances.

“How demanding is he? I’ll tell you one example, we’ve just got promoted and we’re in on Tuesday!” said centre-back Luke Woolfenden.

“But put it this way, we get body-fat tested more than I’ve ever done in the entirety of my career, we run more, we work hard in the gym. Recovery is massive for us and as a group it’s probably the most professional bunch I’ve been around and it’s really helped.

“And like I said, when you work that hard it takes away the nerves and you’re not leaving things to chance.”

Home form

Portman Road created a frenzied atmosphere on Saturday when McKenna’s team sealed automatic promotion. The party will continue next season when clubs turn up in Suffolk, with every match a cup final for fans after a 22-year absence from the Premier League. Making it an intimidating place to travel will be important for survival.

“I know it’s a humongous step up for every department of the football club and will be a massive challenge to be competitive in the Premier League but they are challenges to embrace,” McKenna said.

Share the goals

McKenna has not relied on one striker to get all the goals this season, unlike other clubs such as Leicester (Jamie Vardy, 18 goals), Leeds (Crysencio Summerville, 19 goals) or Southampton (Adam Armstrong, 21 goals). In fact, not a single Ipswich player is in the top 10 list of Championship goal-scorers this season.

“Certainly if someone wants to score 25-plus we’re not going to stop them,” said McKenna. “And the boys have all done terrific to chip in with the goals but, yes, part of our culture is to be a team, as that’s what was going to help us be successful.

“It was to have different ways to score goals and to have different threats in the team. Anyone who has watched us regularly will know part of our strategy is to rotate our forwards throughout the season and through the game. So there aren’t many who play 90 minutes every week.

“But we feel like we have developed our threats and lots of different ways to score goals and that’s been reflected.”

Six things Ipswich need to do to stay in the Premier League (2024)


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